A Bach cover may not be how you’d expect to hear Christian artist Michael Gungor open a show, but at the concert and conversation held Nov. 9, it seemed a perfectly appropriate fit for the intimate discussion about faith, doubt and taking risks with his music that followed.
“The thing that I sense in Bach is just the transcendence .… It’s such a beautiful example of what music can do for the human heart. It’s very directly tied to worship for me,” Gungor said.
The event was part of C3, an initiative started by Associate Professor and Music Department Chair Dr. Mark Aaron Humphrey to promote discussion about the connection between faith and culture.
“The whole intent is to create conversation using interesting people as catalysts,” he said.
After Gungor played a couple of songs, he and Humphrey sat down to do just that, talking about everything from the questioning of fundamental beliefs, to what’s next for Gungor’s music.
Through taking some risks with the Beautiful Things and Ghosts upon the Earth Gungor learned to let go of the traditional view of what it means to glorify God through music.
“Whoever I am as an artist, as a creator, as a musician, maybe there’s something of God in that,” he said. “I can follow that to wherever it goes as an act of worship, even if that doesn’t fit into any kind of genre.”
Though Gungor said he is still searching for what his future work will look like, he is drawing motivation from books he’s reading and the beauty of nature surrounding his Colorado home.
“Everything that comes in is inspiration,” he said. “It all goes into the stew.”
For Humphrey, one of the important aspects of the C3 conversations is to help hold a mirror up to the Christian community.
“We rely on people to show us what we look like from the outside,” he said.
During the discussion, Gungor spoke about the importance of pointing out issues in the Christian culture with righteous indignation instead of jaded cynicism.
“The natural, easy way, with no love, is to laugh and make fun of it. The harder thing is to speak truth to it in love,” he said.
Freshman biology major Victoria Fahy, who attended the event said she enjoyed listening to Gungor’s perspective issues.”My favorite part was hearing his point of view on things. He pointed out things about the Trinity and not being in a box, things I’d never thought about,” she said. “I was able to broaden my horizon.”
One area where Fahy‘s views expanded was the meaning of worship.
“It challenged me to look at worship differently, not only as just something that we sing every Sunday, but really analyze and consider the words that we’re singing and looking at it in a different way,” she said. “It’s more of a conversation between you and God and less of just words that you’re saying to him.”
As more artists join in conversations on campus through C3, Humphrey wants the program to grow into a clearing house for discussion with respected artists.
He said, “I’m hoping it’s the start of something that’s a meaningful part of the UMHB community.”