Bump & Grind for Jesus by Gary R. Weaver

Bump & Grind for Jesus

Gary R. Weaver on Redeeming the Culture

So here I am, amidst a “standing room only” crowd in a large, darkened hall, the only light issuing from spotlights trained on the empty stage. The act is announced, and a dozen or more twentyish women in snug-fitting denim and knit fabric take the stage. They have only a few seconds to form a line before the loud rock soundtrack envelopes the room with its pounding drums, pulsating bass, and largely inscrutable vocals.

On musical cue, the performers begin strutting about the stage, jumping, twisting, bending, and waving, mostly in coordinated fashion. Soon they turn their backs to the audience, bend slightly so as to force their backsides to protrude toward us, and proceed to swivel and shimmy their buttocks quite sensually, in the fashion of Elvis (for you oldsters) or hip-hop “booty” dancing (for you youngsters). Then it’s on to similar hip swiveling seen from the front, along with slowly gyrating legs, heads thrown back, arms outstretched, and so on.

The audience sometimes expresses its appreciation—typically with applause, occasionally with a catcall or a hoot. You get the picture, so I needn’t go on, but there is one more important detail: The soundtrack’s inscrutability occasionally breaks for a reasonably clear shout of “Praise God,” whereupon the dancers all point a finger to the ceiling and put a smile on their faces.

You see, I’m not at a Las Vegas show, MTV taping, or worse, but attending chapel at a respected Christian college, and the standing-room-only crowd constitutes most of the student body. Bump and grind for Jesus!

A First Reaction

My first reaction in situations like this is to think frantically: “Where are the grownups?” But the grownups—specifically, a college staff person who looked to be in his forties—not only introduced the student dance group but enthusiastically pressed the crowd for a “rousing hand of applause” upon the conclusion of the group’s routine. The crowd (large, but largely and, I was told, typically devoid of faculty) responded as requested, especially the male students, I thought—the women were somewhat more subdued in their appreciation.

The ceremonies then moved on to the Bible passage for the day, which itself was followed by applause. (Is Bible reading now perceived as entertainment?) Then came the message based on the reading. It was offered by someone from outside the United States—I’d have loved to know his reaction to the “opening act,” an act that probably didn’t prepare the crowd to receive his rather sober message.

I found the whole setting more than incongruous. My son, who is in his late teens and was traveling with me on this occasion, had a simpler description: “It was gross.”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to what usually is called liturgical dance, I as often as not “don’t get it.” On those rare occasions when a bit of liturgical dance occurs in my Lutheran church, perhaps in the context of a special service or program, I try hard to grasp it, though my effort sometimes fails. But I’m willing to grant that it might be my fault and that I shouldn’t criticize or complain without first learning the kinetic language of the dance (which is to say something akin to what I say to people who complain that they are befuddled by the Catholic Liturgy).

But there’s a bit of a difference, I think, between liturgical dance done by my rather conventional Lutherans (e.g., Mary, in flowing robes, dancing out the joy spoken in the Magnificat) and this Christian college chapel. In the latter, the kinetic language seems pretty clear, and it’s mostly the language of MTV, Las Vegas, or maybe even an “exotic dancer” bar in a seedy part of town.

• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!

personal subscriptions

Purchase Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

RENEW your print/online

Online Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

RENEW your online subscription

gift subscriptions

GIVE Print &
Online Subscription

Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!

RENEW your gift subscription

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

kindle subscription

OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)

Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.

more on culture from the online archives

31.6—November/December 2018

Virtue Gone Mad

Victimhood Culture Scapegoats Its Very Source by Michael P. Foley

19.4—May 2006

Liberalism as Religion

The Culture War Is Between Religious Believers on Both Sides by Howard P. Kainz

34.1—January/February 2021

Fighting for Love

What the World Needs Now It Hardly Knows by Anthony Esolen

more from the online archives

26.5—Sept/Oct 2013

More than Schooling

The Perils of Pragmatism in Christian Attitudes Toward the Liberal Arts by Robin Phillips

31.4—July/August 2018

Mission or Submission?

The Difficulty of Apologetics for Dead Souls in the Real World by R. J. Snell

32.4—July/August 2019

The Two Faces of Modern Misandry

2018 Conference Talk by S. M. Hutchens

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone