Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Looking for an experience

If I'm reading Brandon O'Brien correctly, the worship wars will never end:
Citing neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music (Dutton Adult 2006), Beck explains, “Hearing familiar, favorite music stimulates the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter involved in pleasure and addiction, providing the same rush as eating chocolate or that winning does for a compulsive gambler.” ....

.... Beck goes on to say, “Dr. Levitin’s research also showed that musical tastes formed in the teen years become part of the brain’s internal wiring, as that is the time when some neural pathways are solidifying and others are being pruned away. That’s why the music adults tend to be nostalgic for is the music from their teenage years.”

Maybe that’s why even if you convince a Christian of a certain age that the theology of “In the Garden” isn’t much better than the theology of “When Jesus Comes Around,” it won’t matter. They’ll still prefer it, not because of what it says but because of how it makes them feel. ....

.... For the sake of dialogue, church members must acknowledge that their musical preferences are just that: preferences. God is not on the side of the organ, nor of the Stratocaster. Drop the pretense of righteous indignation and simply admit, “We like this music better.”

That said, the second point is that while we are talking about preferences here, we are not talking about mere preferences. If I understand the claims above, people have profound biological responses to the music they like. They want to hear certain melodies and instruments in worship instead of others, not because they are selfish or hardheaded but because certain melodies and instruments move them, they produce biological feelings we identify as “worshipful.” And most people won’t be able to explain why. ....

There are issues left unaddressed here, such as whether or not feeling worshipful should be a priority. I suspect that debate is a bit academic, as most churchgoers are looking for an experience. .... [more]
Out of Ur: Bieber Fever and the Worship Wars