Slain by the music

Praise music's triumphant spread
The images abound in stock video footage accompanying stories on evangelicals, the religious right, megachurches and the culture wars—the obligatory shots of middle-class worshipers, usually white, in corporate-looking auditoriums or sanctuaries, swaying to the electrified music of “praise bands,” their eyes closed, their enraptured faces tilted heavenward, a hand (or hands) raised to the sky. Although the journalistic patter accompanying such footage is often akin in tone to that found in documentaries about Amazonian tribal rituals, the images highlight an ever-growing reality of the past three decades: the spread of Pentecostal and charismatic worship styles and music into ecclesiastical settings that were once resistant—if not downright hostile—to the up-tempo, emotional music of the Pentecostal ethos.

 

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