ROCK APOSTLES A RELIGIOUS STUDIES INVESTIGATION OF CHRISTIAN POPULAR MUSIC KINGA POVEDÁK PhD theses Consultant: Prof. Dr. Barna Gábor Dsc. SZTE BTK Doctoral School of History, Modern History Programme

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ROCK APOSTLES A RELIGIOUS STUDIES INVESTIGATION OF CHRISTIAN POPULAR MUSIC KINGA POVEDÁK PhD theses Consultant: Prof. Dr. Barna Gábor Dsc. SZTE BTK Doctoral School of History, Modern History Programme SZEGED 2016 AIMS The study deals with a phenomenon that has been little researched in Hungary: it analyses Christian popular music. Its main aim is to map and define the phenomenon of Christian popular music and its variants that appear among different historical, political and religious circumstances; to explore the motivations behind the emergence of Christian popular music, the mechanism of the reaction of religious music born in response to cultural changes, and the effects on society of Christian popular music. Summing up, to show Christian popular music as a response to social changes and the responses on the part of society to Christian popular music. It was the intention of my doctoral dissertation to focus on the overarching cultural processes, to describe and interpret the reactions and counter-reactions, using the tools of cultural studies. TERMINOLOGY My study began from an exceptional situation regarding terminology. The terminology describing the phenomenon studied is confused and imprecise in both the Hungarian and English languages. In general usage the Hungarian concept of Christian poular music can be used to mean guitar songs, or praise music, beat masses, at other times it appears in the form of church disco, Christian rock, sacred beat, religious beat, Jenő songs, or Yellow Book songs. The terms found in English, used in parallel, interchangeably and inconsistently include Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), Praise&Worship Music, Christian Rock and Christian Popular Music but these in no way correspond to the guitar songs based on folk-beat music and intended mainly for liturgical use that have emerged in Hungary since the 1960s and are still in use. Despite all their shortcomings, I regard the Hungarian expression Christian popular music [keresztény könnyűzene], and the English term Christian Popular Music to be the closest equivalents. It is a problem that often performers who openly embrace their Christian faith but never refer to it in their songs, are also classified in the category of Christian popular music. In other cases the opposite may occur: when a song sung by a popular secular performer contains such direct Christian references that it would not be out of place in a praise concert, but neither the performers, nor the listeners, nor the Christian popular musicians regard it as belonging in that category. Another problem is caused by the fact that Christian popular music cannot be classified unequivocally solely in the field of religious music as it is precisely its symbiosis with the profane that gives it a distinctive character. In adopts different forms in the various periods, or often at the same time differing from one geographical region to another. It is shaped by the culture of the given period, the political and religious circumstances, the religious market, all factors that separately or together increase the diversity and so add to the terminological confusion. Both internationally and in Hungary Christian popular music has become a phenomenon almost too rich and complex to grasp. Among the many subgenres it is difficult to define exactly what it is that they have in common; do we really even find the same phenomenon behind pieces in the new style that are sometimes similar and at others very different? Because none of the 1 attempts at a definition presented here was able to cover the whole of Christian popular music well and comprehensively, I was obliged to create a definition that takes into account several aspects. In my opinion, when looking at Christian popular music it is worth examining simultaneously the existence of basically three aspects. These are: the function of the music, the personal faith of the performer, and the content of the songs. We can speak of a Christian popular music composition if we can more or less find a connection with Christianity in all three aspects. The definition I propose is the following: the term Christian popular music applies to compositions of popular music with a content linked to Christian teachings and ideals, performed by Christian musicians with liturgical, praise or evangelising intention. RESEARCH HISTORY Because of the transdisciplinary nature of the dissertation, I had to build on the research precedents not only of a single discipline but of practically all of the social sciences that have dealt with Christian popular music or its precedents. Accordingly, I have drawn on the works of authors approaching the field from the angle of popular music studies, music theology, theology, liturgical studies, history of music, church history, social history, and ethnomusicology. However, the basic frame of interpretation applied in my dissertation has been drawn from religious studies. I approach Christian music not through theology or church history but by focusing on the lived religious reality of the individuals and communities receiving it. Independently of periods or political systems, each chapter on the characteristics of the years of socialism, the unfolding debates, the various functions of religious music, the characteristics of its spread, or contemporary trends can be interpreted basically within the frames of vernacular religion. However transdisciplinary the research chapter may be, it must be stressed that Christian popular music can be regarded as having been hardly researched at all, either internationally or in Hungary. METHODOLOGY My dissertation focuses on several periods simultaneously, and I had to choose different methods to analyse the different periods. An investigation of the years of socialism would have been inconceivable without the use of archival sources. It is worth noting in connection with the sources to be found here that no observations were directed specifically at Christian music, in all cases music came to the attention of the authorities through investigation material on persons under surveillance (a parish priest, choir member, member of the spirituality movement). I supplemented my research in the archives with the reminiscences of informants from Szeged (oral history), as well as with a press history analysis in the hope of obtaining a fuller picture. Similarly, contemporary processes were studied by conducting interviews (group and individual in-depth interviews), and with interviews by questionnaire. These were supplemented with field research with a multi-level perspective. 2 In the course of my research, taking into account the transformation of the validity of the concept of field (Marcus and Hannerz), I followed the position that moving beyond positivist, descriptive ethnography the field is no longer restricted simply to a social group or religious community. In my case this was especially justified because my dissertation does not aim to be either a case study, an in-depth exploration or a positivist description, but instead to grasp Christian popular music on multiple planes in order to interpret and show the functions it has served in different periods (in both individual and collective identity, as well as in religious modernisation), and its characteristics. I applied mainly the method of Marcus s multi-site ethnography and Hannerz s multi-local fieldwork, that expands and restructures the field in the sense of classical anthropology, and as a result my field also changed and became more varied. I was not tied to a church choir, a spirituality movement or a particular concert series, instead I traced the complex manifestation forms of the phenomenon examined in a broader context, following the research possibilities given by Marcus. (1. follow people, 2. follow the thing, 3. follow the metaphor, 4. follow the story, 5. follow the life of a particular individual, and 6. follow the conflict). In doing so I did not spend continuous longer periods in the different fields but applied Wulff s yo-yo fieldwork method to achieve a fuller result. CATHOLICISM AND MODERNISATION The frame of interpretation of the phenomenon is in practice the connection between religion and modernisation. It provides a good example of how the community demands appearing as a consequence of modernisation give rise to similar response reactions in the different cultures and how, in many cases, these arise entirely independently of each other and are manifested in essentially identical forms. Naturally, the effect of the intention of transformation, innovation, modernisation was felt in differing ways in the various parts of the former bipolar world. While in the democratic societies the reforms took place openly, and as a consequence they could be implemented in practice almost at once, behind the Iron Curtain, among others in Hungary, learning about them depended on the one hand on the intention of the state authorities, and on the other hand also on the intentions of the church leadership cooperating with the state. For this reason the spirit of the reforms could be asserted only to a limited extent, filtered through state (and church) censorship, and with considerable delay, and their implementation took even longer. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, after the reforms of the II Vatican Council, the church appears as the interpreter of the signs of the times, as a companion traveller of modernity, and in a way as its partner. The Council gave greater importance to the laity, and at the same time modernised the forms of the religious cult. The church s elite found their way back to the lost emotional values, and as Hellemans also noted, the institution tried to bring itself closer to modern times, it no longer condemned modernity but under the aegis of the key word aggiornamento strove to adapt Catholicism to modernity, but this was far from straightforward and problem-free. Although in the spirit of aggiornamento the Council tried to bridge the gap and move closer to its own age, the suddenly introduced reforms 3 had an ambivalent effect. Rather than a simple solution, the transformation did more to cause an internal crisis. A trend enclosing itself in traditionalism and increasingly out of touch with the age existed and continues to exist side by side and in confrontation with another trend increasingly adapting to the circumstances of the age. The tensions between these two trends are often greater than in comparison with a trend outside Catholicism. THE EMERGENCE OF CHRISTIAN POPULAR MUSIC On the musical plane the roots reach back to the spirituals that arose in the late 18 th century among the Afro-American population, that developed into gospel by the end of the 19 th century. At the beginning of the following century this gave rise to popular secular musical genres such as jazz, blues, and then from the middle of the century rock and roll. Later, as these returned to religious frames, they contributed to shaping Christian popular music. The diagram showing the dynamics of the process indicates that syncretism, a merging with secular genres and styles, has been present throughout the development of Christian popular music and its precedents. Afro-American folk music Spirituals Gospel Jazz Blues Rock and roll Christian Popular music Today, three main forms of Christian popular music can be distinguished: 1. fashionable music conveying a Christian message, created for entertainment purposes and performed at concerts and praise concerts (CCM); 2. popular songs created for praise and also appearing in liturgical use, and 3. liturgical songs performed mainly with acoustic instruments (in Hungary the guitar, in the US piano and guitar) that are mainly used at religious services, mass and in private devotions. 4 Christian Popular Music Pol-beat trend: - Duval - Folk Mass Movement - Sillye Charismatic Praise music: - Pentecostal Charismatic - Catholic Charismatic CCM: - Jesus Movement - Christian Rock, Christian Rap, Christian Metal etc. WARS OVER MUSIC. THE EVALUATION OF CHRISTIAN POPULAR MUSIC The appearance and rapid spread of the new style of music naturally did not go unnoticed. Some of the reactions and evaluations welcomed the innovation and opening, but most opinions in the press and the literature took a negative view. This kind of protracted war that seems to be waning a little at present but rumbles on beneath the surface with occasional public outbursts is impossible to interpret in itself without taking into account its wider connections to modernisation and the II Vatican Council. In practice the same concerns were raised when the new music style suddenly appeared and in connection with the general interpretation of the Council s reforms: 1. it breaks up of traditional forms; 2. it comes from below and is therefore unregulated, the rapidly spreading initiatives are not necessarily in harmony with doctrine; 3. because it is too open to secular culture it is absorbed into it and becomes secularised; 4. it leads to increased emphasis on emotions rather than on faith. On the surface it would appear that the demand for religious renewal would automatically lead to support for Christian popular music, for the revival movements arising at the level of micro communities, even more, pointing beyond this to the existence of a kind of correlation at generational level, revealing a fracture line between the older generations (rejectors) versus younger generations (supporters). However, far more complex attitudes and conclusions can be found at the deeper levels of the phenomenon, in numerous cases contradicting the superficial picture. The phenomenon of the debates is further nuanced by the fact that no generalisations can be made about them on a geographical basis. Like the many kinds of modernity, the evaluation of Christian popular music can also change on the basis of cultures and political systems. It was different behind the Iron Curtain and different in the plural democracies, and within the latter it was different in the United States compared to, say, France. 5 Right up until recently, the literature in English dealing with the debates had two fundamental characteristics: on the one hand participants in the debate as practising believers made no attempt to hide their position as such, treating the topic practically as a question of faith. Even the seemingly most objective writings occupied a position on one side or the other depending on personal involvement. On the other hand, as a consequence we find arguments and not interpretations, always with the aim of persuasion. A general trend that can be observed is that while debates among evangelical congregations are basically grouped around questions of theology and music theology, within the Roman Catholic Church they began from a far more profane, aesthetic basis. Criticisms coming from the Catholic side mainly appeared from the direction of high culture, were based on the values of high culture and it was mainly the critics who spoke up. The church officials who expressed an opinion gave the impression of an institution isolating itself from the world and the secular, one that opposes the profane culture of its own age to the religious sphere, regarding the two as incompatible. Miller collected the following criticisms from the literature. 1. Christian popular music is harmful to the health, 2. it causes moral corruption, 3. it is too secular, 4. it is on a low standard aesthetically, 5. the motivations are questionable, the power of money lies in the background. Many people have expressed the criticism that the emerging Christian popular music industry has gone too far in embracing the materialism of the consumer society that is contrary to Christian teachings. In the opinion of Ratzinger, the church s search for a new language must not be limited to the church subordinating itself to modern culture that is constantly occupied with seeking itself amidst doubts. Christian popular music cannot be used merely for the purpose of pastoral success. CHRISTIAN POPULAR MUSIC IN HUNGARY The appearance of Christian popular music in Hungary cannot be examined merely as the result of a musical process, it must be placed in a much wider context through which it becomes possible to analyse the circumstances that gave rise to the phenomenon that has a variety of motivational sources. The analysis must take into account the political and religious circumstances of the Kádár era, the changes in the church policy of the one-party state regime; changes in the policy of the Catholic church; the measures taken by the II Vatican Council that opened up a whole range of possibilities in religious culture, and how they took root in Hungary; the broader cultural context that led to the religious reforms; the differing values of generations that grew up after the Second World War; rock and roll that began to spread in the 1960s, as music, a way of life and a movement shaping the culture; and the attitudes and preferences of the period known as postmodern. All these factors together created circumstances in Hungary in the 1960s where Hungarian Christian popular music seemed to have emerged overnight. The attitude of the Kádár regime s policy on religion towards Christian popualr music can be seen on files now preserved in the State Security Archive which show that from the 1960s up to the second half of the 1980s the state kept under surveillance youth communities, the spirituality movements that appeared and their gatherings. The main focus was on the central, organising 6 individuals, especially on ministers of religion who reached out to young people. The gradual relaxation that occurred in policy over that period of roughly two decades can be clearly observed from the files. While at first the aim was to prevent the formation of such communities and to intimidate organising individuals, after a while, from the early 1970s the emphasis shifted to only continuous control. The reason for the regime s antipathy was, on the one hand, that the parish choirs and orchestras grouping young people provided space for a new kind of religious experience and the demand for renewal that accompanied it, and for the use of music to counteract the tendencies to secularisation that were already appearing at that time. On the other hand it saw as a risk factor the fact that the new forms in harmony with the changing demands of postmodern society took a different attitude to the institution, as an object of respect above all else, thereby endangering the rather shaky relationship between state and church and their cooperation fraught with tensions. However, these tendencies did not always stop at the borders of religion, they also carried a secondary political meaning. In the great majority of cases this was not a critique of the existing system, or opposition to it, or perhaps an alternative, anti-communist model based on a Christian social system; they were far more depoliticised than that, and generally did not openly express opposition to the regime, but rather the existing regime projected its own fears on to them. The suspicions of the one-party regime had the result that up to the 1980s Christian popular music, although in itself basically apolitical, came to be regarded as a doubly alternative movement. The one-party regime looked on it with suspicion but at the same time it also represented a kind of alternative culture within the church. Many priests especially the peace priests harboured an aversion to it because they saw in its community-forming power a factor endangering the relationship between state and church, while others rejected the musical genre itself. As a result, during the years of socialism Christian popular music that basically functioned as a new religious language, was regarded as a revival movement coming from below, and also symbolised an alte
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