Today starts a new series here on the site: Rituals for Resistance. If we take seriously the idea that churches are to be base communities for resistance then our rituals as communities should strengthen us for the work of resisting the dominant narratives of the United States. I want to think through some of the things a lot of church communities already do and reframe them as tools for resistance.
I love to sing. While I don’t do it as often (or as well) as I did before my voice changed from transition, I still love it. I love to sing while doing dishes, while in the shower, or the rare occasions when I get to drive a car. It’s wonderful to sing alone, but something really special happens when you sing in a community. When it’s a song that everyone knows and you can get your heads out of the music, when you can sing with volume, when people start to harmonize and bring in new sounds, that’s when music is at its most powerful.
I want my community to be a singing community. Singing gives strength for the journey. It expresses things that can’t be said in other ways. It allows you to express deep emotion.
We need better church music. We need singable church music. We need new protest songs. We need songs that can be learned easily and sung with gusto, songs that can be improvised on and harmonized. Songs that can be sung with full bands or with voices alone. Songs that can be sung during vigils and marches.
We need songs that speak to our current struggles, songs that challenge us. We need songs that expand our vision of God and the world.
Our current church music isn’t cutting it. So many of the old hymns are beautiful but have triumphalist language, blood metaphors, masculine language for God, and are very, very hard to sing. So many new worship songs are trite and cheesy. They emphasize personal piety but ignore communal responsibility. Our protest songs haven’t been updated since the 60′s. Where is our new music? Where are the songs we can sing together?
We need more songs like this:
and like this:
We need to be singing communities. We need to lift our voices and sing together. Because something happens when we sing together: we become one. We learn how to breathe together and to listen to one another. We learn how to rely on one another. And this is what a ritual of resistance does; it teaches us how to be in community with one another. So let us sing!