items of interest

Some very interesting articles over the last few days, impossible to really absorb them all, but thought I’d pass them on for the interest of others:

* An amazing editorial over at CT regarding the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy – they don’t get everything right, but make this amazing admission:

The lesson is that our attempts to find and exploit a point of cultural contact inevitably end in bankruptcy.

This does not deny the need to talk about the gospel in language and thought forms that a culture understands. In fact, we cannot avoid doing this—we are culturally and linguistically bound, ultimately unable to get out of our own skin and see the world in any other way. But we must repress every fearful thought that suggests that making the gospel relevant and meaningful rests on our shoulders.

* On the subject of music, several articles out about a new study published at McGill University (Montreal) – when a musical piece builds tension, then resolves it, the brain releases dopamine, the ‘pleasure juice’ that is also stimulated by things like food, drugs, and sex.

Some quotes from the Gazette article:

…the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine is released when people listen to their favourite music, be it rock, jazz or classical.

"Because it [music] gives us pleasure, we can use it to our advantage to modulate our state of mind."

The music that generated dopamine release depended on the listeners’ tastes and preferences.

"All types of music activated the same part of the brain," Zatorre says. "It doesn’t matter if it’s punk, classical, tango or even bagpipes."

Very interesting stuff. I sent the links to Scott Aniol. I wonder what he’ll make of all that.

* Don’t miss the audio files and most of the notes for the Preserving the Truth Conference. I’m reading Mike Riley right now. Very interesting.

* And last, for Bibleworks users, a recent announcement tells us of a partnership between WORDsearch and BW. You can now buy some pretty interesting titles to add on to BW. This could be a welcome gift for someone. (No idea who that could be…)



  1. David Barnhart says:

    Those music studies just confirm/put numbers to what I have thought for a long time.

    I remember hearing Frank Garlock in services when I was young describing “musical highs” that came from rock music, but I was really confused by the fact that when I listened to music that was considered good by him, I experienced pretty much the same thing as he described. To this day, classical music of various types (anywhere from medieval to early 20th centuring, excluding the truly “modern” stuff) remains my favorite type and gives me the most … “satisfaction” of any type of music, though I can experience that same deep pleasure with other types occasionally (“I Sing the Mighty Power of God” and other of the grand hymns come to mind when done well with everyone singing together and good instrumentation).

    I appreciate you posting those articles, though I don’t think they’ve made the whole music landscape any easier to understand or evaluate! :)

    • Hi Dave

      I have a book in my library called Music, the Brain and Ecstasy. I forget the author’s name — Brian something, I think. It is out of print the last time I checked, but it addresses some similar ideas, albeit perhaps without the scientific proof.

      I was thinking about these articles as I went to bed last night, wondering what they mean for our debate. What is interesting to me is that all sorts of genre’s can create the same effect. But I am guessing that in general not all genre’s have the same effect on all individuals. For example, one of the commenters on one of the articles was calling for more Led Zeppelin. I can’t imagine personally deriving any pleasure from Led Zeppelin. I suppose if one made a habit of listening to it enough, one might come to appreciate it more, however.

      So I am thinking that these responses are not necessarily exclusively related to the music itself but to what we love about the music. It is a matter of cultivated taste, where one learns to love a certain piece, or a certain way a certain piece is performed, etc.

      And I suppose the study also points out to us that we still don’t know much about the brain…

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. David Barnhart says:

    I agree. I think that’s one of the reasons for the difference between types of music that are seen as appropriate worship music by different people — since they are usually judging by if the music “feels” worshipful, it stands to reason that what causes certain feelings for one can easily be different for someone else. It probably comes down to cultivated taste, as you put it, association, experience, etc.

    That will contribute to making an objective standard very difficult, unless you are willing to judge by what is seen on the score, rather than having to hear it first to make the judgment, as listening would completely skew the results in favor of experience and cultivated taste.