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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Dan Schatz An Open Letter to Michelle Shocked (151* d) RE: An Open Letter to Michelle Shocked 21 Mar 13

Don't ever change, Spaw. :)

Morris-ey, what I believe and what Michelle Shocked believes are very different things. I am a Unitarian Universalist whose theology is a mixture of Humanism and process theology with influences from Taoism. Michelle is a member of a very conservative Christian church. But I work in the realm of religion, and I have been a hospital chaplain in central Virginia - so I've worked with people from every possible faith, including ones far more like hers than like mine. I've seen grounded and ungrounded people from all of them. What I can't reconcile is her apparent state of mind with someone who is spiritually and emotionally grounded - whatever the faith.


All of this brings up a question about performance. We've talked about it a little, but in pretty basic ways - whether performers should bring their political beliefs into their work, etc. But a deeper question is how we approach performance in general. We may challenge our audiences at times, but we still need to try to engage them, or we're just talking to ourselves. That means thinking about what we want to say and and how we want to say it. Utah Phillips is a great example - he always sounded like he was talking off the top of his head, but in fact he was carefully rehearsed. (He said someone had told him it was more important to be likeable than good - so he made sure he was likeable. Fortunately he was also good.) Others have a different approach, but still make sure to engage. Pete Seeger once changed the heart of a man who had come to a concert armed and prepared to kill him. He was able to do this because he engaged his audience.

It seems to me that we run into trouble when we lose sight of performance as relationship and just start talking to ourselves.

I feel very lucky to have seen Michelle Shocked live early in her career, when she seemed just happy to have her music out and to sing some amazing songs. And I'm glad to hear her say she doesn't really believe all those terrible things, if only because it means I don't have to feel icky when I get out those old records and listen to them again.


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