Page 3 – Mashup Religion
Finally, Chapter Six discusses lyrical substance as theology by laying bare two schools of thought and their resultant children: 1) Ultimate Concern and 2) The Holy (which breaks down into Ontology/Belief and Morality). Like any good story or song, these two overarching systems possess the following components: 1) Human Condition (Problem); 2) Reason for Human Condition (Villian); 3) Thing Most Desired (Desired Endpoint/Goal); 4) Belief (Protagonist); 5) Help (Helpers/Hero); and 6) God (Arbiter/Rewarder/Giver). McClure then investigates five different schools of theological songwriting thought with accompanying musicians working in the medium: Patriotic Theology (John Mellencamp and Toby Keith); Prophetic Theology (Johnny Cash, with a nod to U2); Theologies of Love (Erotic is Madonna, while Empathetic is Julie Miller and Sinead O’Connor); Theologies of Negation (Legendary Shack Shakers and Eminem); and Therapeutic Theologies of Recovery (popular Christian Praise & Worship Music).
Admittedly, I was dismayed at first by McClure’s lack of cogent examples in how he would want someone to employ his techniques in a practical manner. The ideas are superb, as they directly speak to any preacher of any age seeking to interact in any real fashion with our postmodern world (a world that values art, spirituality, and truth in all its forms, as opposed to a systematic exposition of beliefs from a specific religion), but there aren’t as many concrete illustrations as the reader might like. Nevertheless, Appendix One serves as a very helpful and specific walkthrough, as it starts with the text of Matthew 14:13-21 and then displays how to integrate the various tracks and styles of his “Theological Loop Browser” into creating a sermon, complete with providing room to work in a video, song, or testimonial.
Ultimately, Mashup Religion never implores that preacher or theologian subverts his/her ideology for the sake of ministering the Gospel. What McClure seeks to teach us is that, since the Gospel is multi-faceted, it would behoove us to view our sermon and the creation of that sermon from a variety of perspectives and angles so that we can bring out the best in our theology. While the mashup tactic is certainly “postmodern” in orientation, McClure never appeals to one school of theology over another as better suited for his methodology. The strength of his approach in Mashup Religion is that, since nearly all preachers regardless of ideology utilize the four prongs of Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience (whether they admit it or not), the mashing up of genres, tracks, and perspectives can be an effective way to write sermons and think about your theology.