October 19, 2010
John Lennon once declared that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus and
now one academic at the University of Huddersfield says he agrees.
Dr Rupert Till claims in his new book 'Pop Cult' that pop music and
the personality cults surrounding some of the biggest stars in the
industry have in some ways taken over from Christianity as the new religion.
He claims that the inability of the church to adapt to today's
culture has left it "out of date and irrelevant" and that young
people especially are looking elsewhere "to find a sense of
belonging, meaning and transcendence".
He describes modern society as one which prefers nightclubbing to
sitting on pews and worshipping Prince and Madonna to worshipping God.
And even though the Beatles first charted in the sixties, Till says
there are probably still more people listening to their records today
than are reading the Bible.
"John Lennon was right. The Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and they
still are," he claims.
He is scathing towards some music cults however, particularly the
Scandinavian extreme metal scene which has seen some fans commit
murder and arson.
He also criticises the heavy drug and alcohol abuse which led to the
premature deaths or mental deterioration of musicians like Jimi
Hendrix, Elvis, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, and members of Pink
Floyd, The Who and Led Zeppelin.
He reserves his strongest criticism, however, for the church and its
history of opposition to popular music.
"The church's attitude has been ridiculous over the years, telling us
that listening to blues, rock'n'roll, or the Rolling Stones will turn
us into some kind of evil beasts," he says.
"No one believes it anymore. Religion no longer has the authority to
tell us what to do. Overall music is an immensely positive force, to
quote from the book, to understand music is to understand life itself."