I'm kicking off the Spring Term with a new class--Theology and Pop Music. Madonna once said that "pop music is an absolute reflection of the world we live in." It may not be an absolute reflection, but it has been one of the signature characteristics of youth culture, and has helped to reshape our world in ways we probably could never have imagined. Unlike film, which I think tends to reflect society, music has a shaping quality, an immediacy, that allows for the conveying of new thoughts and ideas--it is also not a discursive language, but an emotional, and largely symbolic one (i.e. the meaning of the song is found as much in the bass, guitar and drums as in the lyrics), so it translates across borders and boundaries in novel ways. I taught a class similar to this four or five years ago, which seems like a lifetime ago--it will be interesting to revisit the territory. Lots of older artists have declared rock's revolutionary spirit dead (Neil Young being the most recent voice in that regard), there is little doubt in my mind that music doesn't matter perhaps the way it did a couple of decades ago, but it still has a tremendous power and vitality as far as I am concerned. Part of the issue is that it has become so ubiquitous, music is everywhere, a soundtrack to our consumer lifestyles and thus has been de-privileged--so we find ourselves in the midst of a redefinition of music's purpose and meaning in society, and, at the same time, the delivery systems and technologies that framed music a certain way are giving way to new forms and systems, which always changes meaning and content. I'll report back as the class unfolds.