Just caught an hasidic reggae artist at Stubb’s. His name was Matisyahu. Made me think about the orchard between Christian culture and Jewish culture, and how people find God there. This guy, who was as tall as a celtic king, was clothed in full black traditional hasidic regalia, with hat and yamulka. A tall lurching singer, rapper and break beat spoken word artist who spoke of the rebuilding of the third temple as reggae rhythms soaked into the barbeque stained walls of Stubbs barbeque.
What moved me most was I could see his true self poking through as He sang of God, while wearing this somewhat self conscious persona of traditional Judaism. The form felt deconstructive and even playful with tradition, while he felt deadly serious about what he carried. I kept thinking about all of us who have journeyed through religion to God, and the frames through which we encountered him. So many catholic friends, and charismatics and southern baptist…having to find the same God, often in spite of our cultural traditions.
It also made me think a lot about the space between Christians and Jews, as about 70% of the audience was Jewish and 20% Christian, and the rest too drunk to tell.
At one point He sang spoke a traditional Jewish prayer. Many of the Jewish families present formed a cirlcle and closed eyes on prayer. You felt Jerusalem present, and an unseen smile from The Almighty at having church and jew alike enraptured in moment of common gazing.
I also thought about where we all touch somewhere in the realm of spirituality and art–somewhere on the soul’s path to touch and be transformed by God. I thought also, about where God is allowed to move–places where someone offers a truly open hearted journey towards Him. And of course, I thought about the jews and the church, and what songs they will sing when they are in the proper relation to one another!
Good show, and good questions raised in that mesquite fragranced upper room of Stubb’s barbeque, where Jews and Christians gathered in the same sounds for a few hours, and contemplated God.