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Worship across the Racial DivideReligious Music and the Multiracial Congregation$
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Gerardo Marti

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195392975

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392975.001.0001

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The Naïve Experience of Worship in Multiracial Churches

The Naïve Experience of Worship in Multiracial Churches

(p.77) 4 The Naïve Experience of Worship in Multiracial Churches
Worship across the Racial Divide

Gerardo Marti

Oxford University Press

Interviews reveal that individual worship experiences fail to be distinguished by race. Worship for church members is a “task,” something which they learn to accomplish in a fairly efficient manner (within a few minutes), and the use of music to focus is highly intentional. In learning to worship, members simply accept the music of their church as it is. Worship is delicate work as members consistently fight against distraction. While “distractions” are difficult and almost impossible to ignore, “worries” are within the individual who just needs to “let go.” The process of “letting go” is a process of releasing inhibitions and allowing a fuller emoting of the self in public. Through worship, members from all racial-ethnic groups pursue an intensely private spiritual experience in a very public setting. While every person learns to worship individually, they can only accomplish worship corporately. Worship is therefore an inherently social phenomenon. What initially appears to be a very individualistic behavior turns out to be highly structured. Rather than seeing music as a racially specific mechanism, music is a more nuanced phenomena that socially structures the individual experiences of individuals in church services regardless of racial or ethnic heritage.

Keywords:   worship, experience, music, race, ethnicity, process, socialization, self, emotion, social structure

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