Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the soundscapes of everyday life

I went to see Across the Universe today. It’s not a great movie. It has some decidedly wierd bits and it struggles to decide whether it should be driven by the songs or by the plot.

But it is a fascinating movie to watch in terms of missional church and cultural change research. It takes near 30 Beatles songs and places them in the context of the lives and loves of young adults facing the 60s, growing up in the aftermath of World War 2, facing Vietnam and race riots. In so doing, the songs become a soundscape of their lives and their context. The movie suggests an entire generation shaped by Hey Jude and Strawberry Fields. In other words, a pop cultural worldview rather than an intellectual worldview.

Such a possibility is what made Tom Beaudoin’s Virtual Faith, so fascinating, for he proposed a generation formed by pop culture. It is a similar trajectory to that proposed by Michel de Certeau in his The Practice of Everyday Life who argued that in order to understand cultural change, we must live at the level of everyday life, listening to the microtransformations being made by ordinary people. It is a project given tangible shape in Sardar’s The A to Z of Postmodern Times, in which he suggests a grammar for our decade based on reading lifestyle magazines. What these books do academically, the movie Across the Universe does visually and musically.

In my missional coaching classes I talk about micro-climates, meso-climates and macro-climates. That we need to listen to the micro-stories of our streets, the meso-stories of our suburb and city, and the macro-stories of our globalised world. What Across the Universe does so well is combine these three so well; the micro-stories of Jude, the meso-stories of Liverpool life, the macro-stories of Vietnam.

A few months ago, Al Roxburgh watched Atonement movie and asked what it means to form leaders in a culture losing memory. He quoted Goethe, “He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living hand to mouth.”

Across the Universe raises another possibility; that “She who cannot draw on three decades of popular culture is living hand to mouth.” I left the cinema humming Hey Jude.

Hey, Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

Practically, we need to, in response to the incarnation, let our pop cultural world get under our skin. To sit with the everyday narratives, whether micro-, meso- or macro-. To refuse to pay it cool, as a starting point for our missiology.

Posted by steve at 06:30 PM

1 Comment

  1. …or maybe we should just let it be

    Comment by Merv — May 1, 2008 @ 8:01 am

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