Eurovision and the Triumph of the Bland

One thing stood out for me as I watched this year’s Eurovision.

How bland it was.

It was my own fault for not watching the semi-finals I suppose. All the 'interesting' groups had been eliminated by a process of voting and judging - apart perhaps fromMoldova and Georgia, both authentic bands, who despite scoring well, earned the scorn of Graham Norton. Yes the same Graham Norton who made his career out of the interesting and offbeat!

Perhaps culture swings through cycles of bland and spicy? Three years ago the high street clothes stores had a definite rock & roll vibe yet in this age of austerity there seems a lack of glamour to the big chains. Even Lady Gaga in outfits diverse and glorious lacks a musical edge to echo her fashion sense.

Which leads me to ask:

Should Church be bland?

As a child the Church of England certainly seemed bland.

Whitewashed walls and grey vicars fared poorly against the colourful celebrations of other world religions studied in RE. Dirge like hymns and soft rock anthems lacked bite compared to my teenage record collection. It was only in my 20’s that I began to realise that worship in earth could and even should reflect that in Heaven as described in Revelation.

Times have changed, modern RE resources do communicate some of the colour and diversity of Christian worship worldwide. Fresh Expressions and Alt.Worship step outside the tired inherited artistic structures. There may even be signs of an Anglo-Catholic resurgence, a tradition that in the past has revelled in the eccentric and diverse.

But is this attractive?

Years ago Matins was the preferred act of worship with familiar hymns and chants week by week. Today for many successful churches it is a different familiarity; of chord progressions, words and worship choruses. The Charismatic ‘body ministry’ of 70’s and 80’s seems to have faded, perhaps as an over-reaction to suspiciously self-hypnosis like manifestations of the ‘Toronto blessing’ in the early 90’s. For the un-churched the ritual actions of even a middling parish are far further from their comfort zone than the worship band led sister church next door.

Jesus was certainly not bland.The Gospels depict Christ offending people with the richness and fullness of the faith he offered, the invitation to eat his body and drink his blood being the final blow to bland faith. But within the spiritual Eurovision that surrounds us, those of us who follow that command may find ourselves scoring less than Moldova.

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