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Into the Mystic: Secular Music as a Quest for More

This session will explore how popular music is used by fans and musicians to work out their personal and communal spiritual quests. Focusing on rock and hip hop, this panel features practicing musicians and scholars who share an interest and expertise in these questions. In its origins, rock and roll learned from and rebelled against church teachings, music, and morality. Since then, popular music's negotiation with religious authority, and its ability to foster spiritual exploration, has been one of its most reliable motifs. This now takes place in global rock and roll and hip hop scenes that resource, refigure, and reject not only Christianity but many religions and also different forms of secularity. What are some essential characteristics of rock and roll as a place for spiritual quests today? For those of us for whom music is a way of life, as musicians or fans, what do these quests suggest about how we think about our own lives?

Additional Supporting Materials

Questions Answered

  1. How have religious attitudes about rock music evolved?
  2. How can rock music be a catalyst for mystical/spiritual experiences?
  3. What are common slogans that contain references or shout-outs to god used in Hip Hop to create a "flow" -- to make your head bop, to put your hands in the air, and "feel it"?
  4. With smoke blazin' from the blunt and the mic, "gods on the mic" transform lyrical battles into spaces of alternative realities - what do these realities look like and how are they created through religious aesthetics and rhetoric?
  5. What does recent research in both theology and cultural studies show about how fans use popular music as part of their spiritual lives?

Speakers

Organizer

Tom Beaudoin Fordham University


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