November 28, 2023 Editor

Worshiping at the church of Taylor Swift

Great Pointer to Something Grander: The goodness of a Taylor Swift show points to our need for a deeper goodness.

by Amy Julia Becker

November 21, 2023

image above: Lisett Kruusimäe

WN: I love this line!:

Our souls crave the assurance that we will not be measured by our rights and wrongs but instead will be received in love by a God of grace.



As soon as we arrived at the show, Peter and I were both struck by the sense of being in a house of worship. The rituals, the chants, the ecstatic moments, the shared experience, even the reciprocal relationships established through friendship bracelets—it all underscored a sense of awe and transcendence alongside intimacy. People are notably kind to one another at a Taylor Swift show. At Gillette Stadium, even the security guards were smiling widely and dancing in the aisles. Because our oldest daughter has Down syndrome, we were able to stand throughout the show in a section specifically set aside for people with disabilities. It felt holy to stand among other disabled people, watching sign language interpreters and dancing alongside a woman in a wheelchair. The title of Jessica Winter’s recent piece for The New Yorker sums it up well: “Bearing Witness with My Daughter at the Church of Taylor Swift.”

And yet I also suspect that even this billionaire, multi-Grammy-winning superstar herself cannot satisfy my children’s deepest longings. As sincere as she might be, Taylor Swift is also a pop star. By definition, her job is to keep our longings on the surface and satisfy them there.

And there’s a part of me that wonders whether the church of Taylor Swift could be a waystation for my kids’ generation. Swift’s concerts offer a place where we can tap into deep human longings for both transcendence and intimacy, for celebration of our glorious selves and absolution of our worst parts, for belonging to one another across all sorts of divides.

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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