mad in pursuit journal


Jiving for the Lord

There's been a lot of buzz recently about the "wisdom of crowds" but you only have to look at the public servants we've elected to know that the theory doesn't always apply. I'm one of those people who can be totally alone in a crowd, but it doesn't mean I haven't occasionally felt a surge of joy from a group.

Ellen wrote me about the Catholic Youth Conference she attended. Crowds of youth singing together has to be a moving experience. Is it the Holy Spirit? Or is it one another, hands touching, shoulders bumping, focusing our thoughts as one, getting all our vibes on the same frequency?

The most passionate spiritual groups like to get their folks together for a good sing, sustained chanting or some drumbeats and foot-stomping around the fire. The spirits are called down. A run-of-the mill Christian might feel good if she just hum-mumbles along with the choir on a couple of hymns. Charismatic movement members might feel moved to testify. Or speak in tongues.

On the other hand, Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll are said to be able to invoke the same Holy! Holy! Holy! Not that I would know anything first-hand about that. We saw a movie called "Better Living Through Circuitry" (1999) about the Rave Movement, where kids would gather in huge mobs for electronic music and light shows. From the New York Times review :

An enthusiastic exploration of today's rave culture and the beat-driven electronic music that fuels it, the movie is packed with upbeat pronouncements by flush-faced techno-wizards and partygoers extolling the transformational power of these all-night dance parties. Usually held in nontraditional party spaces (abandoned warehouses and outdoor desert settings are favorite sites), these events, programmed by visionary disc jockeys and lighting designers, synergize electronic music, psychedelic décor and drugs (usually Ecstasy) to send partygoers into a communal ecstatic state. Some rave parties are attended by thousands who may drive hundreds of miles to surrender to the beat.

The humanist in me believes these kids are grooving on their combined energy, but who knows, maybe the Holy Spirit doesn't care whether you call it a prayer service or a rave but simply loves a party.


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