Secular Worship Services, Part One: The Grammys
The longer I live the more convinced I become that all of life is worship. The only thing that changes is the object or subject of our affection. With such a view in mind, you begin to see liturgies emerge in common cultural forms. Liturgy is just a fancy theological term for a customary worship service. This post is the first of a series of posts examining several common secular worship services in America. Later posts will examine the Superbowl, the Oscars, Disney, and college football.
I caught the lion share of the 2014 Grammy’s after the fact, hence the tardiness of this post. I’ve never been super big on all the hype, pomp, and patting on the back – not to mention the huge amounts of filler, commercials, and non-musical content. What was particularly interesting was the sharp focus of the Grammy liturgy. The whole show was bizarre, raunchy, and exactly what you would expect as a liturgy of the secular decline of the West. Pop culture in particular has embodied the descent of Western civilization back into a season of sensate culture. The liturgy roughly follows something of Western Christian worship service:
LL Cool J rehashes more or less the same speech he gave last year about how music unites humanity.
Call to Worship
Beyonce – Drunk in Love. Visuals are inappropriate for print here. Suffice to say that it is an ode to drunken fornication. Beyonce’s visuals matched the raunch of the lyrical content. More of the same Cold War sexual arms race for Western attention.
Worship in Song
Katy Perry – Dark Horse. This performance was equal parts Illuminati (cue the conspiracy theorists) and witchcraft. It featured more of the same attempts to distance herself from her evangelical upbringing by summoning disparate and cliche ridden neo-pagan mixed metaphors.
Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Madonna – Same Love. The sermon came from Queen Latifah. The concert hall is visually transformed into something like a cathedral and a kind of wedding ceremony ensues. We are invited to take part in the sacrament of the 33 heterosexual and homosexual couples as they exchange their wedding vows. You can watch it here:
Nine Inch Nails – Copy of a. This final performance was drenched with irony from Trent Reznor. The lyrics heavily resound with a scathing critique of our sensate culture and reverberate with echoes of Ecclesiastes:
I am just a copy of a copy of a copy
Everything I say has come before
Assembled into something into something into something I am never certain anymore
I am just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow
Always trying to catch up with myself
I am just an echo of an echo of an echo
Listening to someone’s cry for help
There is nothing new under the sun…
Check back for the next in the series.