The Evolution of Charismatic and Pop Culture Christianity Vs. Punk Rock

An exploration of Order and Charism as expressions of culture and counter culture: A comparison with Pop music and the Punk Rock Movement.

The 1960s was a time of global social revolution, when counter culture became a centre point of popular culture, and tensions which had been building since the 1940s between traditional societal values and a generation who seemed to instinctively revolt against the conservatism that these values enforced, came to a head.

These tensions peaked early in the decade and saw infant movements such as the women’s rights movement, the anti-war movement, the African-American civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and the artistic and literary movements explode into the forefront of public awareness and become world changing – revolutions in their own right. The ideals of each of these revolutions seem to centre on a desire for equality and a peaceful integration of all humans, a utopia[1]. Even the negative aspects being promoted within some these movements – such as the literary revolutionists’ affinity with free love (meaningless sex) and the encouraging of drug use – still embrace these ideals.

In this essay I will be exploring how these movements influenced two conservative institutions that were also revolutionised during this era: the traditional church and pop music. I will also draw parallels between two related counter cultures that spawned from this social climate: the Charismatic Christian movement and the punk rock movement. My objective is to demonstrate that both the modern ordered and charismatic churches are ultimately direct expressions of social culture – either mainstream or counter – and both ultimately follow the same responsive path in spite of being in tension with each other. Finally, I will discuss how these parallels eventually merge, and what the outcome of this convergence might mean for the future direction of the church.

Justice League – Justifying The Comparison.

To draw parallels between these institutions I first need to show how their histories and growth patterns relate to one another. I will do this by showing the timelines of (a) pop music VS the ordered church and (b) the punk movement VS the charismatic movement. This timeline will also highlight the similarity in causality and rapid growth pattern between the latter.

(a) Pop Music and the traditional Church.

For the purpose of my objective, I will not be exploring a complete world history of pop music or the ordered church as both these topics are of too massive a scale to be appreciated properly in this essay. I will instead primarily focus on the 1960s and 1970s and discuss what changes came into fruition for both of these institutions due to the social revolutions occurring at the time, and how these changes helped  sow the seeds for their respective counter cultures in the next decade.

Pop music has origins rooted in the late 1930s (and as far back as the Victorian era when one relaxes the definition to encompass the entire concept of ‘popular music’)[2] and, like the traditional church, largely remained bound to its roots and core structures (values and traditions) until the social revolution of the 1960s. During this time however, the influence of the surrounding social revolutions saw the inception of drastic changes to the foundations and ideals of both.

While pop music saw a shift away from the traditional content of politically correct love songs, written by professionals and performed by purposefully employed signers and classically trained musicians, to a new wave of rock ’n’ roll inspired pop musicians who wrote and performed their own compositions, the lyrical content of which began to reflect the revolutions and current events of the time with bands such as The Beatles (often considered a revolution in their own right), Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan openly expressing anti-war, pro-drug use, pro-free love and pro-peace driven sentiments in a majority of their lyrics during this era. This shift in pop music permanently redefined the genre in both a literal and conceptual sense and for a time, pop music could be viewed as less a product of  and more a movement in itself.

Likewise, the church underwent significant, similar changes during this time[3]. The ideals of peaceful integration being rallied for by the feminist, anti-gay and African American civil rights were making their way into congregations around the globe and saw many churches allowing women more authoritative involvement in the church, a relaxing of the exclusion of homosexuals and an integration of African American churches with all white churches.  Most notable are the changes introduced into the Catholic Church by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, which aimed to engage the Church more closely with the present world and saw many long-upheld traditions either modified[4] (such as a relaxing of the rules and regulations of both lifestyle and dress requirements for those in the priesthood) or completely updated (such as encouraging all people to read the bible, which had previously been an activity assigned to clergy, or at best, the faithful).

Continue reading “The Evolution of Charismatic and Pop Culture Christianity Vs. Punk Rock”