Ecstatic Experience in Pentecostalism and Popular Music
Ultimately, the argument put forward in the book is that ecstatic experience takes place in both religious and secular settings and is best understood by both theistic and non-theistic approaches, working together. The ecstatic experience common to both contexts is theorised as ‘proto-religious phenomena’ – the kernel from which religion may develop.
Many of us have felt music’s power to lift us out of ourselves. In 2012, some friends and I attended a gig by the English folk rock band Mumford & Sons at the Belvoir Amphitheatre, about an hour outside of my home city of Perth. It had been a long drive, and the usually glorious Perth weather had started to turn bleak and drizzly. My friends and I were totally unprepared, and found ourselves having to purchase ill-fitting ponchos as a precaution, should the threateningly dark sky suddenly schism and deluge us. To make matters worse, the band themselves were having a bad day – someone had stolen some of their equipment, so some of them were using borrowed instruments and amplification.
Not the ingredients for a great gig. And yet, inexplicably, I realised a few songs in that I was no longer aware of the temperature, or how soaked my jacket and shirt were getting, or even the fact that I had run out of beer. Once again, at a time when I had least expected, the experience that one of the respondents in this book calls ‘that feeling of exaltation’ had happened again. My friends, the crowd and the band were swept up in a shared experience of ecstasy – a word which literally means ‘to stand outside oneself.’ Barriers were down, weather conditions no longer mattered – we were all together carried away by the sound into an inchoate pleasurescape. As quickly as it began, sadly it was...
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