Analog Faith

A Post by Chuck Frost

I remember going to the record store almost every Tuesday when I was young to sort through the new releases.  I recall one particular album that I knew was forthcoming, so I trekked weekly into the shop to ask the clerk: “Is it in yet?”  When it finally arrived, I called my friends over and we ‘dropped the needle’ and listened together. 

Those days are pretty much gone.  If you have a Smartphone, you have all your music in your pocket.  People walking down the street, earbuds on, is a common sight.  Outside of concert attendance, music listening has become more private.

Modern music formats are also heavily compressed.  The music piped through your phone and earbuds has a different sound than it does on a vinyl record.  One artist, reflecting on his new album, said this:

“When it comes right down to it, I feel like the earbud generation is missing out a bit…. It’s a little bit soul-crushing to imagine, with the amount of work that went into the frequency spectrum of this record, that it would all be squished into tiny little laptop speakers or earbuds.”

vintage-vinyl-record-player-wallpaperAnother difference between analog (vinyl/tape) and digital formats (CD/mp3) are the imperfections in the sound waves.  Audiophiles will tell you that it’s those imperfections in the analog recording that help make it sound more real, more alive. I think this in part explains the recent resurgence of vinyl records.  People are looking for authenticity.

I believe there’s an insight here relevant to the Christian life.  It is tempting to compress our faith to the point that it becomes a mere private practice or personal matter – just ‘me and Jesus’.  We might go to Mass but leave it there.

Faith, however, is communal, full-bodied, and meant to be shared.  We gather not for our own private Mass experience, but to worship the Lord together and share in the joy of being brothers and sisters, with all our imperfections.   And from there, we are called to go forth and emit the full spectrum of faith to a listening world.

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