This month’s edition of Multnomah Magazine* has an interesting article on worship. Written by Benjamin Tertin, it is a rather thought-provoking examination on the connection between current trends in worship and entertainment. The crux of the article is based on a historical teaching (as exposed in Dr. Jon Robertson’s class): Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. As glossed by the author, “how we worship is how we believe.” I love any article which finds its central point in Dr. Robertson’s class.
Reading the article took me back to my freshman year at Multnomah, to the all school retreat. We went to Wildhorse Canyon (now going by another name) in central Oregon. The very first night of the retreat, we were lead in worship by an excellent band. However, there was one particular song which made me quite uncomfortable. That song was “My Glorious,” written by Delirious. I’m not a particular fan of the content of the song, and neither am I a fan of the presentation by Delirious or the band that night at the retreat. Simply stated, I felt like the song was manipulative. That is probably unfair and overstated, but it was (and remains) my personal observation. The entire presentation of the song, music, lyrics, vocal style, etc. seemed aimed to produce a massive emotional response. I didn’t like it. It didn’t feel right. I perceived that most other people there had no problem with it. This was uncharted territory for me, since relative to my own church experiences, my home church was pretty rock-n-roll (especially compared to my grandparents’ Christian church worship). In retrospect, that experience probably contributed to the fact that I never quite felt at home among the Multnomah student body. The other contributing factor was of course that I lived off campus (as a senior I once had a sophomore ask me if I was new).
All this is to say that I think Tertin makes a good point: sometimes I think worship can come too close to amusement. We have to discern the difference.
* It seems as though only the most recent edition is available online.