Monday, March 08, 2010

Keltic Ken @ the Super Bowl, St Pete's Lifehouse, and the New Boss of Emerging Church

Keltic Ken's great post, after The Who performed at the Super Bowl, worked for me on
several levels:

-reminded me of how The Who, and one of those Super Bowl songs, had escorted me on a time-travel trip just weeks before.

-got me thinking how far ahead of his time Pete Townshend was with the whole famous/infamous "Lifehouse" project............and what a prophetic picture of wikichurch it was.

On the latter lesson:

Lifehouse, as any Whooligans know, never happened.

Or eventually did, in various forms, depending on who you ask.

Or will happen, if you listen to Pete in random recent interviews.
("So, I still have this crazy urge to make the fiction real.")

Heck, there is even a great band named in honor (see "Lifehouse skit, and cigarettes on sale at Berean Christian Store") of the failed success, successful failure...whatever it was/is/will be.

Read all about Lifehouse at this Wikipedia link.
And this article.
Or hear from Pete Townshend himself:

For twenty-nine years I have been entangled in this thing called lifehouse. I blamed the frustration it caused me on its innate simplicity and my innate verbosity; one cancelled out the other. The story contained ideas that were once regarded as overly ambitious. I felt like a jungle explorer who had stumbled upon an Inca temple of solid gold and become impeded by roots and vines in a knot of undergrowth, only yards from civilisation. One day I would emerge crying aloud that I'd discovered something marvellous, but would be patted on the head and indulged in my triumphant ranting. The playscript is the result of this awkward, though not particularly heroic, journey. I have come to the end of a creative adventure in which I struggled as much to overcome my own impatience as obstacles in my path.


What is the story for? Why should it be heard? This play is essentially about the necessity for human beings to congregate regularly in order to share their emotions, and their responses to the spiritual challenges of art, great and small.

-link, read more

Unfortunately, some of the best commentary on Lifehouse are Townsend's article, and John Atkins' article, in the booklet accompanying the "Who's Next (Deluxe Edition) CD" are nowhere online. Until this excerpt, right now:

Lifehouse was to be a sprawling concept work of multiple dimensions: big-budget feature film, theatre event, double album, song cycle, concert performance piece, and general purpose statement about youth, modern society, spiritual harmony, and the future of rock and incorporated such elements as science fiction, electronics and mysticism and what we know now as 'virtual reality.'
-John Atkinsstr

Sounds like church as it could be/should be (:

As crazy as it it was, Lifehouse was based in a version of God via sound theory and string theory (click those phrases as "labels" beneath this post..and note Len Sweet, "the universe at base, is music");
it predicted the internet (before Al Gore did);
it got the importance of genre-mixing;
it cast a vision for radical audience (congregation) participation.

It suggests that God shows up, and we show up and we get our music tuned right!

No wonder Atkins wryly concludes,"If not exactly doomed to failure from the outset by its unwieldy complexities, the viabilty of Lifehouse was certainly open to question."

"Pete wanted to create," Atkins remembers," active, ongoing, tangible, participatory event."

Is that church, or what?

The plan, inasmuch as there was such a thing, was for The Who to take over the theatre with a regular audience, develop the new material onstage and allow the communal activity to influence the songs and performances. Individuals would emerge from the audience and find a role
I have not read a better description of what happens, and what emerges, on a typical Sunday gathering of our flock! (:

Anyway, thanks to Keltic Ken for stirring this up.

Ken even gets how prophetic the title line from "Won't Get Fooled Again' ( intended as part of the Lifehouse event), is a prophetic reminder and to, and watchword for the emerging church.

"Won't Get Fooled Again". A very appropriate song to close the performance, since that tune has been referenced in recent days to describe the bubbling discontent in American society with politics, obscene greed, etc.
"...and I'll get on my knees and pray, we don't get fooled again"---an interesting prophetic statement that seems to carry more weight in 2010 than when we first heard it in 1971.
-Keltic Ken
Amen, I have prayed that line for years...

Also in that song, check out (and pray up) the line ( 7:58 in the clip) "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
It works both as a psalm of lament (a new wineskin pastor who still acts in the power of the old changes nothing") and as a rhematic reminder of Who (Jesus, the Big Boss) is the same yesterday, today and forever..

And is the very Life and Lifeblood of any lifehouse we dare attempt to build or live in.

'Come to the LIFEHOUSE, your song is here'.
And music buff as you are, Ken, did you know about the other Who song to include the "teenage wasteland" line? The song called "Teenage Wasteland?"
If so, you win a huge prize!

Here it is:

Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living
I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
And I don't need to be forgiven

My kids ain't gonna break my heart
My greed ain't gonna spoil their part
This life just has to be a new one
I'm gonna tan underneath the new sun

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland

Don't have the latest suit
The long grass is my fruit
I am really ordinary man
The family is free to do just as they please
And we all sleep together in the caravan

Hey you! Don't walk on the turnips!
My Lord...when will they ever learn it?
Look there! Nations of traveling children
Nowhere to go to escape the chill wind

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland

My kids ain't gonna break my heart
And my greed ain't gonna spoil their part
This land just has to be a new one
I'm gonna tan underneath the new one

Sally take my hand
Travel south cross land
Put out the fire
And don't look past my shoulder
The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
And let's get home
Before we get older

Teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland
It's only teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland
It's only teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland
It's only teenage wasteland

They're all wasted!

Hear also one Lifehouse version of the song most folk think IS called "Teenage Wasteland":


Two classic Godhaunted songs you never heard

1 comment:

  1. i feel like i should append a PS of sorts should go without saying that i know Pete's spirituality was and is not "christian"...and i am not saying the prophetic parts of Lifehouse are perfect..just saying (as always here) that there are Godhaunted signs
    in the culture re; what God wants church to be like


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!