- Paperback: 184 pages
- Publisher: Liturgical Press (February 5, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814633544
- ISBN-13: 978-0814633540
- Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.5 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,287,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rock-A My Soul: An Invitation to Rock Your Religion Paperback – February 5, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
A tension between the worldly and the spiritual has existed in rock ™n™ roll since its foundations in African-American spirituals, gospel, and blues music. But for Catholic drummer (and PW reviewer) Nantais, the very music often feared by religious folk has served as both balm and outlet to help him understand God. In this short, first-person musing, Nantais argues that œtheology can be done through music, encouraging Christians to see rock ™n™ roll as a œmode of theological expression. Setting aside contemporary Christian music (which he says is not the only way to marry rock and religion), he argues that mainstream rock has many virtues: community building and transcendent elements, meditative qualities, expression of emotion. Nantais admits to some less edifying aspects of rock (e.g., segregated crowds at rock music venues, ties to consumerism). He also chooses not to address a major sticking point for some—offensive lyrics—and so may not be able to convince every reader of rock™s merits. Despite that, his enthusiasm for mix tapes and chord progressions is infectious. Christians will learn to find God in a rock concert, and lovers of all things drum and guitar will find spiritual validation. (Feb.)
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Associate Professor of Theology
Author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
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In fact, that's what Chapter 3 is all about, and it's perhaps the best chapter in the entire book.
Nantais's enthusiasm for rock music is evident throughout the book, and maybe no more so when he encourages the reader to.. "experiment with ways of praying" with rock music." I'm still not sure how that happens, but you have to love his enthusiasm.
A summary statement of the book can be found early in the introduction where the author writes, "Rock and roll music is part of God's creation, a gift that can help people praise, reverence, and serve God."
Amen to that.
A good read, and well worth the time for anyone who's been influenced by rock music along the way.
So, Nantais is (what one would call in political jargon) a "Liberal" Catholic. Or, perhaps, better to say: a "Spiritual, But Not Religious" Catholic. Or, perhaps, "Post-Catholic" fits him better?
He certainly loves Theology (as his musings in the book show) as well as "Rock n' Roll" (as his performance as a Drummer in a band shows). But, I get the sense, that Nantais is none too comfortable with integrating: Jesus . . . or, the Bible . . . or, Catholicism . . . into his avocation as a performer. Nantais' basic point and thesis is this: He defends the proposition that by listening to rock songs and going to rock concerts one can be brought closer to God . . . or, the "Spiritual" . . . or, the "What-Have-You." He doesn't seem too particular. He also doesn't seem to want to quibble too much about the lyrics which rock performers compose or how those performers comport themselves in their daily life and influence their admirers. It is the "Rock" that matters and the spiritual experience which one can derive from the "Rock's" performance . . . and, he DOES NOT mean by "Rock" either God or Christ. There is a reason the book invites its readers to "rock your soul" and not the other way around, i. e. to spiritualize Rock n' Roll as an expression of worship, praise, glory, etc. for God.
Before buying this book, one should definitely read Nantais' article for America magazine: "What Would Jesus Listen To?," America, 5/21/07, pgs. 22-4. Illuminating. Nantais is clearly uncomfortable with "Christian Rock" and with Christians who use Rock to evangelize, proselytize, whatever through their music. He doesn't have a problem with Christians in rock bands (for example, Switchfoot); but, he does have all kinds of discomfort with "Christian" rock bands: Y'know, bands that sing explicitly about salvation in Christ . . . or, about social issues that matter to them (e. g., abortion, poverty, injustice, etc.). Not that Nantais has a problem with bands singing about social issues (see Bruce Springsteen below). But, one gets the sense that those types of bands ask too much of Nantais: They seem to intend MORE in their performance than just giving him a nice spiritual "fuzzy." That is a bridge (no pun intended) too far for him! So, David is not too "into" Stryper -- although, Stryper is hardly "ueber-evangelistic" in their music -- but, Dave does love King's X (which makes perfect sense within his Liberal paradigm, since KX's lead singer "came out" as an homosexually-oriented man a few years ago). No, despite the apparent purpose of his book, Nantais not so hung up on narrow theological issues like "Is Jesus the way to salvation?" or " Is homosexuality a legitimate lifestyle for the Christian?" Or, "Is this song filthy/perverted/rude/uncharitable/blasphemous/etc."
Nantais seems to have a great liking for Bruce Springsteen. While he acknowledges "The Boss'" social message, it is rather Springsteen's performance qualities that duly impress Nantais. (Oddly enough, I have the opposite reaction: While I can value Springsteen's focus on social issues -- whether I agree or not with his opinions is another matter -- I think, his performance capabilities are abysmal. The E Street Band, however is great.) And, that for me is the gaping back hole in all of Nantais' argumentation: It's all about performance -- not the words or content. Springsteen puts on a great show. So do Switchfoot . . . and, Radiohead . . . and, (pre-sellout) Metallica . . . Forget about the message! . . . which -- while he still might agree with it -- doesn't seem to matter to him. Rather, it's the EXPERIENCE that going to a Rock concert creates.
In practicality, Nantais' argument amounts to nothing more than a call for someone to enjoy the "spiritual" experience of lighting some candles, dimming the lights, and sitting there while listening to some Dave Matthews Band music. There's nothing particularly Catholic, Christian, or spiritual about any of this.