NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

The rock mass

Andreas Häger, Åbo Akademi University

This paper discusses the relation between media and rituals in the context of a religious ritual in a very narrow and traditional sense: the mass. I am interested in the influence of modern media on this traditional religious ritual. More precisely, I would like to discuss the use of popular music in a mass setting.

The use of popular music within Christianity is not restricted to praise and worship music in the Pentecostal context or the "Contemporary Christian Music" industry. There has (at least in a Nordic Lutheran context, which is the context of this paper) for some time been a tendency to use popular music in the traditional mass. It is not only a question of bringing in electric guitars or some popular songs, but setting the whole of the mass to some form of popular music. Examples from Finland and Sweden include masses using hip hop or techno, music from some particular popular artist or group (such as U2, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, etc.), or new music especially written for a mass setting.

The aim of my paper is to present some examples of these popular music masses, and to attempt a discussion of the significance of this strong influence of contemporary media and popular culture on a traditional religious ritual; to look at how the relation between religion and popular culture is negotiated in a very concrete way in such a setting.