Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Upside-Down Guitar Speaks

This post will be short because I’m going to let some talented musicians do the talking, not me. 

I went to a concert by Mike Mangione and The Union at a Christian coffeehouse in Green Bay, and quickly fell in love with their soulful lyrics and blend of folk, rock and symphonic sound. Part of the mystery for me was watching these talented musicians tune in to one another and bring out the best in each other, while creating a unique and distinctive sound.

I would deem these artists Christian humanists, as they seek not to disengage from modern culture to seek after the divine but rather to create art that engages the culture and modernity at large by drawing from the common depths of human experience and discovering grace at work there. You won’t find politicized messages or gilded-edge Bible verses, but their music has a tragic sense of a soul at stake. In its texture and lyrics, one feels a longing for more than human mediocrity and a cry for redemption. 

The concert reinforced a lot of what I’ve been mulling over lately, how Flannery O’Connor says the bedrock for drama is in original sin and good stories hinge on the point of conversion. Also, in the book I am reading by Gregory Wolfe, Beauty Will Save the World, he suggests imagination through the art form is needed to redeem our time, and that writers and artists of faith today need not shout the truth but whisper - for the truth will speak for itself.  A church father once said, “Wherever there is truth, it is the Lord’s.” 

In the first video below, Mike Mangione talks about his faith being the lens for his songwriting. He talks about the reality of his days and concerts being numbered, which grounds him in the present, and he reveals his writing models, Bruce Springsteen and Flannery O'Connor.

Thanks, Mike Mangione and The Union for being an inspiration! Cheers!

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