Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Church with Girl Talk

For the first time in 6 years, my wife and I went to a concert this weekend.  I felt like I was 22 again; it was amazing.  I don't know what it is, but I feel like turning 30 triggered a second adolescence for me.  Or maybe I'm just experiencing my mid-life crisis a bit early.  Let's analyze.  In the last year I have: quit my job, started a new job in a completely unrelated field, started smoking, decided to run in a race, thought about selling everything I own and starting over in a new country, and completely questioned everything I have ever believed in.  Throw in sex with a blonde teenager and you have American Beauty Part Deux.

So anyway, we went to a concert the other day. 

One of the several bands playing at what was actually a music festival was Girl Talk, whose brilliant mixes we have come to find great enjoyment in.  Being the first time I had seen this musician, he was much different than I pictured him to be.  But that's far from my point.  

Before I decided to lose my inhibition and dance like there was no tomorrow, I was simply observing what was happening in the audience at this show.  As the music played, people were dancing around, clapping, raising their hands in the air, and closing their eyes with big smiles on their faces.  The scene looked remarkably familiar to what I had seen in church so many times in my life.  Only in church I felt like I was the one on stage (sometimes because I actually was) and often was more preoccupied with what other people thought of what I was doing than sheer enjoyment of the moment.  Was I raising my hands in the air because I actually wanted to show some sort of reverence to or celebration of God?  Or was I doing it simply because I wanted other people to think I was really spiritual?  Often it was the latter because I didn't really understand what the point of raising your hands in the air was anyway.  What does that mean?  I kinda always just thought it was something you did, never made much sense to me.  

After observing the dancing crowd for awhile, I decided I was going to join in.  And let me tell you, it was blissful.  I decided to throw all my inhibitions out the window.  Everyone around me disappeared, it was just me and the music.  I danced my heart out, literally.  According to my wife, elbows were flying and I looked like I was having fun.  I'm not sure exactly what that means about how I looked to those around me but I was having a damn good time and didn't care.  I jumped around, I threw my hands in the air, I got drenched in sweat, and felt some sort of transcendence that I had never before experienced.  I was worshipping.  

My friend Derek the pastor (I really like calling him that but think it annoys him sometimes) talked one time about a concert he went to and how it was the most worshipful experience he had.  He asked why we couldn't have that in church.  At the time, I was wondering the same thing.  Now I'm wondering if maybe the church is happening all over the place and we're just missing it.  Weird that I felt closer to some sort of divine experience, call it God, at a Girl Talk show than I ever have in church.  I always thought my church feelings were real but I realize now they were manufactured.  

Maybe we should invite Girl Talk to our next service.  But people might walk out when he calls them motherfuckers.  

I remember speaking one time about division in the church and how people automatically unite when when they come together for a common goal or purpose; like when I hugged 7 strangers a few years ago after the U.S. scored the tying goal in a World Cup qualifying match against Costa Rica.  We celebrated and worshipped because we wanted the same thing.  We came together in that moment of joy.  After the recent shootings at a movie theater in Colorado, I've been thinking about the only two times when people really seem to set their differences aside and come together in common unity: in tragedy and in bliss.  When tragedy strikes, scourging political discourse stops and messages of peace are broadcast.  When bliss happens, like when a country wins the world cup or a big Olympic event, people come together to celebrate.  But we spend so much of our time in the middle, fighting over insignificant ignorance.  

I don't know anything about the people who were dancing around me the other night.  But I felt close with all of them because we were sharing something holy.  True and blissful enjoyment of the present.  

Maybe concerts for world peace aren't such a ridiculous idea after all.  

1 comment:

Derek (the Pastor) said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Colter.

First, I wish I could have seen your moves on video, elbows and all. Perhaps I will have to wait to see that in person when you actually invite me to go to a concert with you (passive aggressive sarcasm intended!).

You have tapped into something huge here.

Part of it is the Church recognizing that worship exists outside of the hour on Sundays. The other is examining why such fervor for God is not exhibited like it would be during a World cup.

The statement you make about bliss and tragedy is profound. What we need to continually make ourselves aware of is we are constantly living in both. It is only when we name something with "bliss" or "tragedy" that we are reminded of it and enter into how we ought to be feeling the rest of the time. Or perhaps that is what these "worship experiences" do. They remind us of the beauty and ugliness that we are so quick to overlook and allow us to experience them with the intensity that they deserve.

But, similar to your initial hesitation to join in to the dancing, we all recognize that such a participation in the tragic bliss of life requires risk and a self-loss or sacrifice.