Sunday, August 07, 2011

Spirituality and Paul Kelly: A concert reflection

“An Unforgettable Night of Paul Kelly Songs as you have never heard them before” was the billing for the concert. Australian composer, Paul Grabowsky, had taken various Paul Kelly guitar ballads and reworked, rewoven, remixed them. The result was a fresh and vital take, that served to showcase not only the songwriting gifts of Paul Kelly, but those of the Australian Art Orchestra, singers Vika and Linda Bull and The Choir with No Name.

The concert blurb described how the set list originated.

“Weather? Seasons? Women’s names? Drinking? I’d recently written a song called God Told Me To, the last verse a direct lift from Revelations, which put me in mind of other songs I’d written using Biblical language.”

And so the concert was about God. Strange really, to sit in a 21st century concert hall, listening to some of Australia’s finest musical talent sing. About God. Song after song introduced by explaining the connection to Biblical characters or texts. A live “Bible and culture” tutorial (It’s a topic we teach in our B.Min degree).

Here was the playlist.
48 Angels
Be careful what you pray for
The gift that keeps on giving
Surely God is a lover
Love is the law
My way is to you
Glory be to God
Jump to Love
Passed Over
Meet Me in the Middle of the Air
God’s Hotel
Gathering Storm

It is interesting to place this play list alongside another Paul Kelly playlist. I teach a B.Min class called Reading Cultures and we spend an hour on the music of Paul Kelly. We invite a local Uniting Church minister, Sean Gilbert, to play some songs and reflection on the significance of Paul Kelly.

The play list is so very different. It can include songs like
From Little Things Big things Grow
How To Make Gravy
When I First Met Your Ma
If I Could Start Today Again
Dumb Things
Deeper Water

The shape of spirituality is very different. It is about justice, about listening to indigenous voices, about facing our mistakes, about ritual and seasons, about growth through life, about absence and mistakes, about the seasons of life. It expects to find God not only in Biblical lyrics, but in all the places of our life, in all aspects of being human.

Which for me is a far more grounded, far more wholistic, far more interesting approach to spirituality. It expects God to be a whole lot bigger, big enough to be part of our life as well as big enough to speak through a book. I wonder if it is perhaps a bit more intrusive, God jumping out of church and asking to shape our lives 24/7.

Paul Kelly, Meet me in the middle of the air and Ascension Day worship here.
Paul Kelly, Sound Relief Bushfire appeal and the spirituality of public lament here.
Paul Kelly and the Parables of Matthew 13 here.

Posted by steve at 01:52 PM

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