music with spiritual underpinnings

By August 3, 2005General

In my role as “pastor of the open mic,” I’ve been able to experience a number of really good artists. Because it’s often in a small environment, it tends to be acoustic-driven (which I like) and more personal (which I like as well). The artists tend to get there early and stick around after they play. Since they are much like church planters — trying to gain as many contacts as possible — I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many of them.

While it’s not true of all artists, there is a growing undertone of spirituality among younger artists in San Diego. It’s music with a message, and not the old worn-out “down with the machine” type of stuff. It’s about life, making choices, exploring mysteries, and wrestling with doubt. It’s sometimes subtle and sometimes not.

As a person of faith who believes in engaging culture rather than withdrawing from it, I find this to be encouraging. Art has a way of surfacing questions and conversations … questions and conversations that the church needs to be a part of if it is to speak to this generation. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves answering questions nobody is asking.

So what do we make of this resurgence in spiritual matters? On the one hand, we could easily dismiss it as too fuzzy and ill-defined. We could feel threatened because it’s not always from a Christian perspective. Or, and this is my preference, we can be confident in the power and veracity of our message and wade into the waters … starting with what we have in common.

A few artists

Michael Tiernan
Will Edwards
Jason Turtle
Annie Bethancourt

I’m not saying these artists classify themselves as “Christian artists,” but their music has spiritual underpinnings that are worth listening to.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • tiernantunes says:

    Ken,
    You got it right, my friend. I see it too in so many of the artists I see – it really jumps out at me. I’ve always seen music as a way to express spritual experiences in a way that isn’t possible in other forms of expression. Even in the darkest and most dreary songs by artists or bands that might offend some or turn others off, I’ve always perceived beauty in them, even if it is only the honesty in shown in their struggling or search- it’s all very revealing of our human longing to be complete and to be somehow redeemed.

    And yes, you are the “pastor of the open mic” – that’s so cool! Thanks for really listening to what’s going on in the culture around you. I think your approach to the spiritual through the arts is spot on. Thanks!
    Michael Tiernan