*Please note that the extract below is just that, an extract, and does not fully reflect the journey of the argument or the context into which this is written. The book is dealing with a personal reflection on the experience of desolation focusing on Psalm 22, in light of the writers own experience of bi-polar disorder and the Christian belief that God the Son suffered on the Cross. The extract below is there to get us thinking and engage in conversation, but to understand the writers intention fully you need to buy the book! The chapter this is from is reflecting on Israel's worship and experience of darkness and then reflecting on the Church's worship and experience of darkness. I do not want to mis-represent the theology and argument of the book, but rather use this snippet to get people thinking!*
'The leading of worship is a theological task, requiring significant theological reflection...worship is reduced to the singing of one song after another, often for no better reason than the personal preferences of the musician leading the worship; there is little sense of direction, progression, or journey. Moreover, the leading of worship is an extraordinarily totalitarian process...a worship leader tells me to stand or to sit and leaves me little option but to participate in whatever is being sung regardless of my personal circumstances or mental and spiritual disposition...This style of worship focuses almost exclusively on praise, adoration, and thanksgiving, usually at quite up-beat tempo, with clapping and other expressions of unqualified exuberance. Nor is this unremitting cheerfulness mitigated by more thoughtful reflective and inclusive prayers - more often than not, interjected prayers sustain the mood of joyfulness and gratitude, sometimes (frankly) in disturbingly superficial manner, offered...entirely unprepared, highly repetitive and liberally interspersed with the vocalised punctuation marks of 'Lord', 'just', 'really', and 'great'...The presence of children prompts the very worst from this style of worship with trivializing songs that provide sufficient cause for any thoughtful child, approaching adulthood, to jettison Christianity along with Father Christmas and Fairy Godmothers....Moreover, the totalitarian manner of this form of worship renders it difficult to opt out, to observe, to sit and to pray quietly while the performance proceeds. For the person...wrestling with any form of clinical depression, for the person tortured by the breaking up of relationships, for the recently bereaved, for those who have just been told of terminal illness (their own or that of a loved one), all this is unrelieved torture.
...Any liturgy of worship that excludes lament, therefore, is not just carelessly exclusive, it is encouraging dishonesty and unreality - and if the psalms and the Scriptures generally tell me anything they tell me that God looks for honesty rather than pretence; the Scriptures offer me no encouragement whatsoever to take refuge in fantasy. Here, I suspect, is the more profound reason for some apparently lively and flourishing churches having 'big back doors': that which initially was attractive and contemporary proves ultimately superficial and non-sustaining.
...My purpose is not to encourage a self-indulgent wallowing in negativity but rather to make space for realism and honesty.
...There is no resurrection without the Cross; there is no Christian discipleship other than under its shadow; there is no Christian ministry without participating in the sufferings of Christ...those who seek a theology of glory are seeking God in other place and form than that in which supremely he has revealed himself. The Cross of Christ stands at the heart of the Christian gospel and at the heart of Christian discipleship.'
'Why Have You Forsaken Me?' John Colwell pp 69-75