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Pop Music and Theological Invention
Popular music artists are intentionally unoriginal. Pop producers find their inspiration by sampling across traditions and genres; remix artists compose a pastiche of the latest hits. These "mashup" artists stretch the boundaries of creativity by freely intermingling old sounds and melodies with the newest technologies. Using this phenomenon in contemporary music-making as a metaphor, John McClure encourages the invention of new theological ideas by creating a mashup of the traditional and the novel. What emerges are engaging ways of communicating that thrive at the intersection of religion and popular culture yet keep alive the deepest of theological truths.
1 The Songwriter: Invention In and Out of a Theological Tradition
2 Multitrack Composition and Loop Browsing: Style and Theological Invention
3 Sampling, Remixing, and Mashup: Inventing the Theologically Possible
4 The Grain of the Voice: Inventing the Soundscape of Religious Desire
5 Fan Cultures: Getting Theological Inventions into the DJ's Crate
6 Lyrics: Inventing Theology in Response to Popular Music
Appendix I: The Multitrack Sermon - A Homiletical Case Study
Appendix II: Mashup and Theological Invention - An Academic Case Study
Index of Songwriters, Composers, Musicians, and Bands
Index of Names
Index of Topics
"This book is unlike any other in the field of popular culture and theology. With all the the wisdom, experience and insight of a practicing musician and theologian, McClure takes theology to the school of rock and finds many practical insights for how theologians can appreciate the skills of creative invention refined by successful creators of popular music. This stimulating, learned, and original book shows how much theologians need to learn about how to appreciate and shape desires from the very practices of the desire-shapers theologians often combat."
—Tom Beaudoin, Associate Professor of Theology, Fordham University
"…there is much to admire in McClure’s careful juxtaposing of the latest music production techniques with the development of culturally relevant theology."
— Steve Knowles, University of Chester, Modern Believing (55:4)
"Who knew that musical loops, remixes, and sampling could offer such suitable metaphors for reimagining religious pedagogy? McClure stands apart, suggesting new possibilities for everyone anxious to communicate meaningfully to those ever-changing and regionally distinct audiences shaped so profoundly by popular culture."
—Michael J. Gilmour, author of Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post 1960s Popular Music and The Gospel According to Bob Dylan: The Old, Old Story for Modern Times
"Mashup Religion charts new territory in debates about the nature of theology. Using popular music making as a jumping off point, it sets out a vision for creative, imaginative and rhythmic theologizing. McClure’s is a refreshing and inspiring approach to communicating faith that is not directed at but learned from popular culture."
—Pete Ward, Senior Lecturer in Youth Ministry and Theological Education, Department of Education and Professional Studies, School of Social Science and Public Policy, King’s College, London
John S. McClure is the Charles G. Finney Professor of Preaching and Worship at Vanderbilt Divinity School and editor of the journal Homiletic. His previous books include Other-wise Preaching: A Postmodern Ethic for Homiletics and Claiming Theology in the Pulpit. He lives in Nashville, TN.