Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Recently, I finished Shane Hipps' "The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture." As a work of prescription, it is mostly deeply flawed. However, as a work of analysis, it is extremely helpful. One section I particularly enjoyed:
"Electronic media culture has a natural bias toward efficiency, entertainment and consumption. These three values have become the new holy trinity in our culture - to challenge any one of them is an act of heresy. Taking cues from these biases, worship in the modern church is often equated almost exclusively with joy and celebration. Worship often serves as a kind of pep rally...We have a strong legacy of denying our suffering in favor of celebration...over time it leads to an inauthentic and unhealthy spiritual life.
Authencitiy and integrity in worship will mean employing the pattern of the psalms, which express both lament and praise. Each element completes the other. Without lament, praise is little more than shallow sentimentality and a denial of life's struggles and sin. Without praise, lament is a denial of hope and grace, both of which are central to our faith and to God's promises. To value one over the other is like suggesting that breathing in is more important than breathing out.
This is not only an issue of authenticity and integrity. It cuts to the heart of hospitality and pastoral sensitivity. For those coming to a worship service immersed in the depth of pain and suffering, celebratory praise takes on a mocking tone that excludes those who are suffering. They are unable to join honestly in these choruses. By incorporating expressions of sorrow, pain and grief into our worship, the hurting are ushered into God's presence with honesty. At the same time, the rest of the congregation is reminded of the suffering community gathered in their midst. Here they are invited to weep with those who are weeping."
-Shane Hipps. The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture. pg 160-161 [emphasis added]