Quote of the day

Brian Eno on the allure of gospel singing:

I belong to a gospel choir. They know I am an atheist but they are very tolerant. Ultimately, the message of gospel music is that everything’s going to be all right. If you listen to millions of gospel records – and I have – and try to distil what they all have in common it’s a sense that somehow we can triumph. There could be many thousands of things. But the message… well , there are two messages… one is a kind of optimism for the future rather than a pessimism. Gospel music is never pessimistic, it’s never ‘oh my god, its all going down the tubes’, like the blues often is. Gospel music is always about the possibility of transcendence, of things getting better. It’s also about the loss of ego, that you will win through or get over things by losing yourself, becoming part of something better. Both those messages are completely universal and are nothing to do with religion or a particular religion. They’re to do with basic human attitudes and you can have that attitude and therefore sing gospel even if you are not religious.

The whole thing is worth a read, if for nothing else than the chance to stumble on the phrase “mutant gospel.”

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  1. Janet B wrote:

    Hmmm….well then, I guess the whole message of “Sinner Saved By Grace” would sail right over him.

  2. Samuel wrote:

    What is beyond me is why they let an open Atheist in a gospel choir. It must be a different choir than mine, because we have some standards.

  3. DD wrote:

    #2 - I’d wager to say that there may be some unsaved folks in your choir. At least this guy is open about his questioning. Opening the door to this guy gives an opportunity to break down those walls and hopefully see him on our side. Having “standards” is putting up walls to keep “those people” out. Just my $.02, your mileage may vary.

  4. NG wrote:

    Eno is an amazing multi-talented person. Wikipedia entry gives a good overview of his accomplishments especially musical ones.

  5. NG wrote:

    This section from the article on acoustics in churches is as interesting to me as the one Avery lists:

    “”If you think of the mid- to late-50s when all of this started to happen for me, the experience of listening to sound was so different from now. Stereo didn’t exist. If you listened to music outside of church, apart from live music, which was very rare, it was through tiny speakers. It was a nice experience but a very small experience. So to go into a church, which is a specially designed and echoey space, and it has an organ, and my grandfather built the organ in the church where we went, suddenly to hear music and singing was amazing. It was like hearing someone’s album on a tiny transistor radio and then you go and see them in a 60,000-seater. It’s huge by comparison. That had a lot to do with my feeling about sound and space, which became a big theme for me. How does space make a difference to sound, what’s the difference between hearing something in this room and then another room. Can you imagine other rooms where you can hear music? It also made a difference to how I feel about the communality of music in that the music I liked the most, singing in church, was done by a group of people who were not skilled – they were just a group of people, I knew them in the rest of the week as the coal man and the baker.”

  6. WB wrote:

    #2 & #3. Standards? Our church has no standards. We let and invite all sinners in the door.

    Our choir, orchestra and worship pastor are there on a Sunday morning to help lead the congregation in meaningful worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I would hope that all leaders on the platform are born-again believers and not just there because God has blessed them with musical talent. If a self-professing atheist wanted to join our choir, I believer our response would be, first come to a saving faith in Christ, confessing your sins and accepting his righteousness for eternal life. Have a seat in a pew and pray God would open your eyes to the truth of his gospel.
    After that, we’ll talk.

  7. Lovelife wrote:

    #6: Well said. Exactly what I was thinking.

  8. Michael McIlwain wrote:

    I have Gavin Bryars “Jesus Blood Has Never Failed Me Yet” that was released in the 1990s. However, Brian Eno’s record company released a condensed version of this song on an album in the 1970s. Does anyone know where I can get a copy of that album?

  9. wackythinker wrote:

    I guess I just don’t understand why someone, who is a self-proclaimed atheist, would want to spend his free time singing what he claims is a lie. Aren’t them other opportunities for using your talent and love for music? Isn’t there community theatre, or karaoke bars, or SOME thing that would fit better in your belief system?

    I’ve heard it said that there really are no atheists. Only people who WISH there were no God, so they could live like the devil. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ve heard it somewhere. And it kinda makes sense to me.

  10. Bryce wrote:

    It’s because, quite possibly, much of the material sung by the choir is not incompatible with his own aberrant theology, or lack thereof. Or, it could be due to one or more seared consciences.

  11. Tjeerd wrote:

    I had a old university friend Jacobus, who was really into Brian Eno.
    I recall hanging out in his downtown Toronto warehouse studio apt. drinking green tea, while reading the likes of Russell Kirk, Henry Hazlett, Hans Sennholz, and Leo Strauss. All with the smooth, somewhat irregular sound of Brian Eno.

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