Yesterday, the Canadian rock band Arcade Fire won the Grammy for Album of the Year. They were by far the least-known band in the category and I imagine their album “The Suburbs” sold fewer copies than any other nominee. They beat Eminem, Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum and Katy Perry. But they won because they’re important. At least I think that’s why they won. (they may have won because Katy and Lady A. split the sugary vote and Eminem and Lady G. split the edgy vote, but that doesn’t help me make my point.)
I say “The Suburbs” is in an important album, and that the Arcade Fire is an important band because they represent a much larger movement: small and meaningful is better than popular and unsatisfying. Our world has gotten abstract, pre-packaged, institutional and basically meaningless. After winning the final award of the night, Arcade Fire took the stage and sang “Ready to Start,” the first single off the now Grammy-award-winning album. Some lyrics:
All the kids have always known
That the emperor wears no clothes
But they bow down to him anyway
It’s better than being alone
I would rather be wrong
Than live in the shadows of your song
My mind is open wide
And now I’m ready to start
People are rejecting the “inauthentic” world in all kinds of ways and it’s starting to show up in popular culture. This is why “The Hurt Locker” beat “Avatar” for best picture last year. This is why small, local-owned coffee shops where the owner knows the regulars can stay open less than a mile from a Starbucks. And everyone is a part of this movement, whether they know it or not. The people posting things like “who the heck is Arcade Fire?” all day today are a part of it too. They express their individuality and reject certain corporations or institutions even if their iPod contains only top 40 hits. Some people refuse to shop at Wal-Mart or McDonalds. Some people recycle with near religious fervor. And some people refuse to participate in organized religion because it just looks too much like every other institution.
This is why I care about this stuff. (actually, I care about Arcade Fire because I love their music) But this is why I think other people should care. The world is changing. By the time the Grammys notice, it’s probably already changed. And it affects the way we do church. Church has to be real. It has to be meaningful. Churches who look and act like corporations and institutions will never reach these people. You might be thinking this is where I tell you how to do that, but…this is a blog. If I had the answers, this would be a bestselling book by now.
What do you think?