Thursday, June 09, 2005
Kirchentag 2 - Robbie Williams Worship
Picture the scene, a darkened church lit by candles and the pastor at the front looking cool in his open-necked black shirt, white jacket and stripy trousers. We arrived a bit late, during the recitation of a Psalm. Then, with the flick of a power-point button, Robbie was in the building – or at least a large projected picture of Robbie was on the screen. The next hour is something of a blur in my memory of laughing and singing along to Robbie. After five minutes I thought the English contingent would be thrown out - we were certainly eyed with some suspicion by a steward. We heard a very serious meditation on Robbie’s spiritual yearnings, which was a mixture of taking Robbie far too seriously and research from the gossip columns. We had a reading of the lyrics of ‘Angels’ (in German translation) as if it were from the Bible. And we had Robbie – Robbie on video and Robbie played by the house band (in black shirts and orange ties - a cross between Franz Ferdinand and Kraftwork). We sang, we waved our arms, we had fun. And in the middle of this we said the creed, the Lords Prayer and finished with the Kirchentag hymn and a blessing. It was all very odd.
The house band play Angels.
Much of the meditation was on Robbie as a Christ-figure. This seemed to have two sources - an image from one of Robbie's live performances when he appears in cruciform pose; and the fact that Robbie's charity work reveals him as someone who helps other people. Where do you begin to argue with this? It seems evidence of a very thin Christology (Jesus just wanted to help others) and comes dangerously close to idolatry. Actually, I think we probably crossed the line.
This isn't, I hope, a cultural thing. I've seen Brits do this at Greenbelt - take Radiohead or U2 or whoever dead seriously; I've even seen Canadians write essays on this and call it masters degrees in theology! All suffer from an inability to take the songs as songs - and not just a written text with an irrelevant musical accompaniment. A Lent book we studied in the parish one year did this with the Manic Street Preachers. We were given the lyrics of a song and told that this was a deep and meaningful meditation. Most of the group had a very different impression once I played the track - pure punk noise - and I think we realised that the music was integral to whatever 'meaning' there was to it.
But then, it's just possible that I'm missing the point. After all, surely 'Let me entertain you' is a reference to Hebrews 13:2!
Phil has some excellent posts on this: so good he blogged twice!