Can we co-exist downtown and in the church

I’ve never listened to singer Patty Griffin but the title of her latest album, Downtown Church, grabbed my attention, being part of an inner city church myself.

Bernard Zuel opens his Saturday SMH review of the album with words that give us great insight into the intersection of faith and culture. Zuel, as far as I know, is not a person of religious persuasion, making his words all the more instructive:

“…this is not an album for Sunday morning coming down but for coming up. It’s a gospel record for the not-necessarily religious by a woman in the prime of her songwriting and singing life who grew up Catholic but understands that faith (held and lost) and redemption (sought but not always found) aren’t just matters of pews and pulpits.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Bernard. One day I hope you’ll discover for yourself that Christians aren’t (all) plastic and religious but can be real and honest and broken and hurting and alive and full of faith all at the same time.

He concluded his review, commenting on some of the tracks on the album, with further, almost prophetic, insight:

“…that special ache Griffin specialises in: neither outright sadness nor comfortably accommodated acceptance. That they fit seamlessly within this quasi-religious setting explains why Griffin can co-exist in downtown and the church – and make you feel like you could too.”

Better find me a Patty Griffin album. Oh, and by the way, Bernard, I might be able to introduce you to a ‘downtown’ church you may enjoy. PH

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