How Popular Music Shapes Our Souls
series: Engaging Culture
Where to Purchase
Part 1: Music and Religion
1. Music in Context: Contemporary Discussion about Religion and Popular Culture
2. Explorations in Affective Space: The Magisteria-Ibiza Spectrum
3. Acknowledging a Theological Interest: Popular Music from Sin to Sacramentality
Part 2: Living by Pop Music
4. Pop Music in the Marketplace
5. Pop Music and the Body
6. The Tingle Factor: Popular Music and Transcendence Today
7. Pop Music, Ritual, and Worship
8. What's on Your iPod? Classics, Canons, and the Question of What Matters
Part 3: Pop Music and Theology
9. The Discipline of Listening: How (and Why) What We're Doing with Music Matters Ultimately
10. Three Steps to Heaven? On Negotiating Meaning between Popular Music and Christian Theology
11. Embodied Social Rituals: Revisiting Theology through Popular Music
A Programmatic Postscript: Practical Consequences for Church, Academy, and Daily Living
"Personal Jesus is one of the best theological treatments of pop culture I have ever read. Marsh and Roberts offer a many-layered, comprehensive model for how we can more thoughtfully understand and engage pop music. Weaving together an impressive array of scholarship on the subject and a wide variety of music--everyone from Springsteen to Lady Gaga--Personal Jesus is a book that will help pastors, students, scholars, and everyday music fans better understand how and why pop music matters in the Christian life."
Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity
"Marsh and Roberts prepare the way for a new style of making theological sense of popular culture. The continued decline of the influence of religious traditions makes this kind of theological study even more imperative. In this situation, Marsh and Roberts show us why studying the lived experience of popular music is an imperative if we want to find out where religion cohabitates with ordinary stuff, more or less openly, today: in the spaces of meaning communicated by music in everyday life."
Tom Beaudoin, Fordham University; author of Virtual Faith (from the foreword)
"Theologians and self-avowed music lovers Marsh and Roberts posit that popular music is 'a significant frame for holding whatever people come to call religious or spiritual,' and as such should be an integral part of any relevant theological discussion. What follows is a well-reasoned examination of how music affects people and how people engage that music within a theological framework. Both authors are familiar with analyzing various aspects of pop culture from a critical theological perspective, and it shows in their sure-footed approach to subjects, like finding transcendence in popular music and the ritualization of listening to music. . . . This is primarily an academic volume, but Marsh and Roberts do such an admirable job of presenting a unique view into popular music that a wide array of music lovers will find something here to consider."
"Personal Jesus continues the [Engaging Culture] series trend of being both academic and accessible. . . . Marsh and Roberts' greatest achievement in this work is to construct a theological framework for listening to and responding to popular music that operates at a deeper level than any I have previously encountered. . . . They ask how and why listening to popular music might function in our lives as a religion-like practice. This approach opens up various possibilities for deeper exploration. . . . It is evident that Marsh and Roberts are committed and careful listeners of popular music across a spectrum of genres and time periods, a fact which only strengthens their arguments throughout the book. Just as impressive is the authors' engagement with a diverse collective of scholars and theories from a variety of fields. . . . Personal Jesus is a welcome addition to any conversation about religion and culture generally, and an invaluable piece of any conversation between theology and popular music."
Englewood Review of Books
"To remain relevant, the church must read the signs of the times and read them well. Understanding the role of popular music in people's lives is an important part of that mission. So Clive Marsh and Vaughan S. Roberts have done us a great service in writing Personal Jesus. . . . In their thoroughly researched work, Marsh and Roberts argue that popular music must be listened to and assessed through a theological lens, as it offers us an important arena for human understanding. . . . The strength of this book is that it facilitates a discussion that is important to evangelization. . . . [The authors offer] an invitation to consider the power and draw of popular music as a way of better understanding a people's deep longing for transcendence, and their final chapter is filled with some excellent concrete suggestions on how to make that happen. . . . A fine study."
Damian J. Ference,
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