and it wasn’t even a “Christian” concert.

Written by Mandy Thompson

She’s just a girl with a guitar. And, in a perfect world, Mandy would spend her days writing songs and soaking up the sun. But, life is life. And, while not perfect, her life is good. She serves as Director of Congregational Services at The Chapel, in Brunswick GA. If you asked her about her position, she’d say her main course involves developing worship experiences, with a side of creative design and social media for dessert. Tasty!

February 7, 2012

The Civil Wars

A few years ago, I led worship on a retreat for a room full of seminary wives and students. Even though we were from all over the world, we had Jesus in common. We also had a need for rest and refreshment.

My Northern Irish friend shipped her mom across the pond as our keynote speaker. She was wise, funny, caring, and also a Well-Known-Pastor’s Wife.

In all her talks, the one that I’ve never been able to get away from was her permission to enjoy non-Christian art. This five-minute divergence from her main message marked one of the most pivotal moments in my journey as an artist. What changed me? Since God is creative, and He made us in His image, then all creativity stems from Him and all creative people are acting out the Imago Dei in their lives. She showed us that creativity is a direct reflection of The Creator, not just its creator. She also shared how she enjoys a variety of art, even the kind that doesn’t come out of the Church.

Gasp.

Could we really find glory and God in non-Christian Art?

Once I let her words slide down into my soul, they changed my perspective on Art (Let’s capitalize it, since it’s sacred). They also changed my perspective on my own Art. (See? Capitalized again.)

And she was right. Art has a way of revealing the Creator like nothing else.

Last week I sat on the third row of a concert hall, with The Civil Wars just a few yards away. I’ve admired this band since their “Sorry, our Eddie’s Attic demo is the only music we have to offer right now” days.

I could see sweat beads on John Paul’s face and the dimples on Joy’s. And when I felt the tears well-up during the bridge of their first song, I thought, “Oh no. This isn’t church. This shouldn’t move me so much.”

And then those beautiful Irish words came flooding over me and I told myself that God created them and they were about to show off for Him and I gave way to the moment. I gave way to Art. I gave way to the Imago Dei in them. And I listened close to their song about prayer. And I let it be my own prayer as well.

It was beyond me. It was larger-than-life. It was transcendant.

Am I the only one who’s experienced this? I mean, I’ve heard about people having a “religious experience” at a U2 concert, but have any of you had a similar experience? I would love to know!

19 Comments

  1. Nikole Hahn

    There are many talented, non-Christian genre music that is sweetly moving. The words don’t always have to be in it that stamp it “Christian.” Like Daughtry’s music or Nicklebach’s music, I wonder if they know the Lord because their music has in some cases had a good message. It was quite moving. 

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Yes Nikole. You know, I secretly believe that all music comes from Heaven, since the angels sing and I’m guessing they didn’t learn it from us. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Justin Rich

    I felt that way watching Bon Iver on an SNL replay last night. It felt like a spiritual experience in spite of the fact that they’re not a “Christian band” (or Christians, from what I can tell). Not everything is sinful, but not everything in beneficial. I contest that The Civil Wars are beneficial. (Also, Joy was a CCM artist prior to her joining with John Paul.)

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I was about to whisper that Joy was in CCM before! 🙂 Thanks Justin. Gonna go look up some Bon Iver again.

      Reply
  3. Nancy Franson

    Abraham Kuyper wrote, “There is not one square inch over the whole domain of human existence
    over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not say, ‘Mine!’ ” All truth, all beauty ultimately derives from the infinitely creative God. Whether or not an artist considers him/herself a Christian artist, or whether we perceive him/her as one isn’t, ultimately, as important as recognizing that anything they do which is good, lovely, noble., etc. bears witness to something of God’s character. Good post.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Wow. What a quote, Nancy. Thank you for sharing that!

      Reply
  4. Mandy Steward

    you know, but i felt the need to say it here. i have had similar experiences. in fact, i have them all the time. thanks for writing about yours.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Thanks for helping me feel normal, Mandy. Or at least, not alone. 🙂

      Reply
  5. rupzip

    The way I feel is that truth is truth — and it comes out in a variety of ways. And yes, God even speaks through the secular. “The rocks will cry out!”

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      And, in today’s modern version, it might read : The rockstars will cry out! 😉 

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    You should check out the book “Original Blessing.”. I forget the name of the author but he talks about a lot of the same stuff. Really powerful stuff

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Wow. That sounds good. Thanks for mentioning the book.

      Reply
  7. DWHarper

    Music is where the physical world meets the spiritual world…

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      oh heck yes. I love that!

      Reply
  8. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    Just a few weeks ago I wrote something and when I was done, I realized I’d made no overt references to God, to Christ, nor to my faith. Other than the writing I do as part of my day job, this was a recent-history first for me.

    It startled me to realize I’d done so. It startled me more to realize I was just fine with it. I’m going to be clinging to the quote Nancy shared.

    Reply
    • mandythompson

      Thank you for sharing this experience, Sheila. This also reminded me that the entire book of Esther makes no mention of God. But he is very much assumed to be a part of the story. I, as one who has a hard time “seeing” him, find much comfort in that fact.

      Reply
      • Sheila Seiler Lagrand

        Esther’s cool that way, hmm?

        Funny…seeing Him isn’t my faith challenge. Ever seen my blog? All about seeing Him everywhere.

        Now. Surrendering to Him? Really TRUSTING Him? those things challenge me, I’m afraid. 

        Reply

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and it wasn’t even a “Christian” concert.

by Mandy Thompson time to read: 2 min
19