22 January 2020

(Yet) More on Music (and a bit on film)

By Clive Marsh


So the deadline is almost upon us. 31 Jan – when the bells may or may not toll at 11pm (midnight in Brussels).

It’s the deadline for your offering your comments on, corrections and additions to, the Vice-President’s playlist, as used throughout the Methodist Conference in Birmingham last year.

I’ve had a number of contributions – some lengthy! That’s great. It means I’m expanding my own familiarity with a wide range of music. It means I’ll be able to compile a much fuller list of eclectic tastes, but also a more varied resource list of what a range of people think can be drawn upon ‘for spiritual purposes’.

Whether it means ‘can be used in worship’, or ‘to set the tone for a Christian/religious event’, or ‘to help in times of need/for private prayer’ or ‘to lift the spirits’, the music list will be valuable to compile and explore.

These were the sort of criteria that drove my own selection for the Conference. The final list was, in effect, a distillation of 40 years’ worth of engagement with and enjoyment of music in many forms into a playlist of pieces of music in and through which, in my own and others’ experience, ‘God can be found’.

God can be encountered in and through the music – almost regardless of what the composers or performers may have intended (for not all the chosen music was explicitly religious in content).

Of course, how it’s known or believed whether God is ‘in the music’ is often where debates begin. But that’s the beauty of all the arts and popular culture: who says? how do you know? do you ever know?

God’s wrapped up in the debates too. I write this fresh from a conversation hosted in a film theatre in Wolverhampton (thanks to the Light House venue for providing the gallery space for the event, and to the District Chair for making it happen!) about the new film JoJo Rabbit. Over 30 people showed up – not all card-carrying Methodists. Discussions about popular culture and the arts in public places…this is where new, fresh kinds of conversations about faith are happening, can happen and must happen. (God is in the room…)

It might be some time before I get round to compiling the full music list from your contributions, but I will try and do that (and comment on it – how could I not?) before June. In the meantime, you’ve still got time to offer your own thoughts and additions. Flick back to the original blog contribution  …and then get writing! Let me know what should have been included.


You might also want to become a subscriber to The Friday Fix, a blogpost that would arrive in your in-box each Friday morning from the East Central team of the Learning Network (see www.thefridayfix.home.blog). You’d get a song/piece of music to link up with online, plus some reflections from a faith perspective.

Music-lovers everywhere…linking faith and music (from both ends): it’s what we do.


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