Worship Service “Highs” Explained

0045667cdac4530c891d3feae1adc011After 20+ years in church and many, many, MANY years of participating in incredibly intense and emotionally charged worship services, I’ve learned that this kind of musical experience is not unique to Christianity, or even religion in general. I experience the same rush of emotions, the same euphoria that I felt back when I was in church: peace and inspiration and deep thought provoking responses, the desire to dance around happily, to just fall on the floor and cry, or to run out and fight a righteous battle of some kind. Except now it’s to other kinds of music with no worship or prayer involved.

Music moves us, drives us, and causes us to experience things that we can’t always explain unless we happen to be psychologists who have literally written books on how it works, or we’re one of those people who like reading those books (raises hand). In a church worship service, the addition of other people experiencing the same thing is very similar to what we feel at an intense rock concert where everyone is singing along. Many people coming together to focus on the same experience creates a sort of group high.

This isn’t a commentary about whether or not god exists, we all have our own beliefs on that count and it’s a different issue altogether. This is just my own commentary on the phenomenon of the musical “high” that churches often claim as supernatural, based on my own experience and what I’ve learned about in science and psychology. I think that much of what is thought of as “God’s presence” in a worship service is nothing more than our natural responses to being in such a charged musical atmosphere. This is probably why some religious sects don’t allow music, because they recognize the power of music in driving emotional responses that aren’t necessarily supernatural. But when you’re raised to associate these feelings with “God’s presence”, it becomes confirmation bias. If God is real or not is another issue- but the whole musical experience thing is something that all humans, religious or not, can access. You could say God made music that way. I’d disagree with you, but at least it’s a more logical interpretation of how we feel in worship services.

So enjoy your music, however you like it. View it as divine or not, it’s up to you. These are just the thoughts that go through my head as I drink root beer and listen to awesome music that I never listened to when I was a Christian. 🙂

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