After stumbling over an article in a Baptist publication debating whether or not the Church needs to concern itself with people viewing music as a religious experience I found myself having the same, albeit internal, debate. Thankfully, Huffington Post had worked it out in 2011. Author, Michael Graziano shares his insights in Why is Music Religious Experience? “Many of the moral generalizations that have been applied to religion apply just as well to music. Music is a cultural phenomenon. It intensifies emotions. It helps cement communities. It can range from the terroristic to the sublime.” In closing, Graziano shares a sentiment not unlike my own, “My brain is treating the music like a universe of complexity and investing that universe with its own deity, for whom I feel some measure of awe and reverence. My relationship to the music is, in the most fundamental sense, the same as a religious relationship to the real world.”
Raised by former-Catholic’s my experience with church, well institutionalized religion was lacking for many years – basically until I went through confirmation at the United Church of Christ nondenominational church a block away from my house. In the final few months of the Confirmation process we had to write about our interpretation/relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit individually. In my writing about the Holy Spirit, I wrote about music, something I to this day see as the tangible mark that something bigger than us is out there giving out gifts. So why is music a religious experience (for some)? To me, its another form of creation – a gift given to those who create it by something or someone beyond this world.