Seeing this post at AKMA’s reminded me that I hadn’t posted my thoughts on the U2charist… We–the whole family–attended one a week or two ago at a diocesan event. M in particular wanted to study it in that it relates to a particular liturgical interest of hers. Here are a few things I/we found:
- Neither one of us got to attend the whole service. Why? Lil’ H was being cranky… She wanted to wander around as she’s working on the whole walking thing. It was also in the late afternoon–naptime. This could just be a personal thing but we were not the only ones in the narthex with small children. Think about it demographically–the people you want to attract to a thing like this are of the age to have children–small ones. Furthermore, having kids is one of the reasons people of our demographic return to church. It’s doubly important, therefore, to attend to the issue of small children in worship with this service. Childcare is not necessarily the answer, either. If “inclusivity” is one of the hallmarks of the event (which is what I took away), what’s the just rationale for excluding a certain slice of the baptized?
- The U2 music was only in place of congregational hymnody–no liturgical elements were replaced/displaced by it. Thus, it was a normal Rite 2 Low Mass, but with other congregational music. I found that interesting.
- I liked singing along to the songs. You could definitely tell from a quick glance around who knew the U2 catalogue and who didn’t. What I discovered, though, was that during various songs I wasn’t thinking about their lyrics but about the situations, people, and places with which I associate with them. These were very powerful memories–but not necessarily ones conducive to prayerful attentiveness.
- I was glad that it wasn’t a Sunday morning service–because it wasn’t a typical Sunday morning experience that would nourish and nurture over the long haul. M said she thought it would be a good thing maybe quarterly for a peace/social justice/world hunger kind of event. I agreed. But–they used the propers of the week. Why? To my mind, it looks and feels like a votive mass. I seem to remember seeing in some book (Occasional Services? Priest’s Handbook?) propers for a votive mass for Peace/Social Justice. (it stuck in my memory because I had to shout down the Old Oligarch [the archetypal crusty conservative] embedded in my soul that wanted to reject such things out of hand as unnecessarily partisan.) If it seems like and is appropriate as a votive mass, do it that way!
- On the way home asked Lil’ G what she thought. In terms of music, she has been raised with traditional church music and knows the basic chants; she also sings along to The Cure and AFI. So, trying not to bias the question, I asked her if she liked the music we normally hear in church, the music we heard today at the U2charist, or both. She thought about it for a minute, and said both.
So to summarize, I found it an interesting experience. I liked the parts of it that I participated in, but it’s not something I would either seek out or go to on a regular basis. I think its true liturgical home is as a votive mass to draw attention to a particular issue on an occasional basis (and in saying this I imagine this may well have been its original intent.) Musically, pop music is problematic to my mind because of its secular location and all the mental/memory baggage that goes along with it. Furthermore, I wouldn’t call this a pop music mass either because it only appeared at spots for hymnody; none of the liturgical chants were replaced (or even appeared…).