Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Secular Worship Services, Part One: The Grammys

with 3 comments

Stained Glass Macklemore Ryan Lewis Madonna at Grammys 2014

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:

Welcome

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.

Katy Perry Burning at Stake at Grammys 2014

Sermon/Homily/Sacrament

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:

Benediction

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.

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Written by Michael Graham

January 29, 2014 at 4:41 pm

3 Responses

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  1. thanks Mike! “All of life is worship” – David F. Wallace…
    And since I’m in an Anglican church and came from a PCA with liturgy….leitorgia is a “public working, or a public service towards its gods.” Generalizing the definition makes it obvious that much of society is engaged in creating rituals of worship around their chosen gods. Self, sex, power, money, diversion, sport….

    keep writing man!

    Daniel Garcia

    January 30, 2014 at 9:24 pm

  2. […] post is the second in a series of post on Secular Worship Services, the first analyzed The Grammys.  Up next, we will take a look at The Superbowl with respect to the commercials. […]

  3. […] or unconscious (shopping, sports, entertainment) liturgies of a culture – more on that here, and […]


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