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Step 1 - Watch the video

Experiment with the Bible as an 8-track playlist. Music connects with our emotions and comes from the cultures we live and breathe. What if we could tell a story from the Bible using only the everyday songs we enjoy?

Step 2 - Instructions

This is experiment is really simple...

1. Choose a Bible story. Then to try and retell that story by creating a playlist of between 4 - 8 tracks.

2. For more fun, find some other people to take part. Could be your friends, or a group you're part of.

3. Jump on the Community Tab and share your playlist. And tell us how this affected your experience of the Bible.

Step 3 - Tips & Tricks

- Noah survives the destruction of humankind (Genesis 6 - 9)
- Abraham is told to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22)
- Moses kills an Egyptian slavedriver (Exodus 2)
- The spies meet Rahab the prostitute (Joshua 2)
- David has an affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 - 12)
- Nebuchadnezzar destroys the city of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24 - 25)
- The story Jesus tells about the son who runs away (Luke 15)
- Jesus causes havoc in the Temple (Matthew 21)
- Jesus is sentenced to death and executed (John 18 - 19)
- Paul gets shipwrecked and lands on a Mediterranean island (Acts 27)
Think about how the story makes you feel and what themes it makes you think about. There are no right answers here - the purpose is just to explore. If the story makes you feel pumped then put together a playlist you would run to. If it breaks your heart then pull together the tracks that tug at you. Just use the songs you usually listen to, and be as creative as you like.
This might be e a new idea and feel a bit overwhelming. So far, we've found the simplest way to begin is to find one track that fits a story. Play it to yourself and see how it makes you feel, what other parts of the story it makes you think about. The other tracks usually come more easily after that .
You don't need to use 'Christian' artists, if that's not your normal music library. Part of the intrigue with this experiment is whether it can help us find a more meaningful faith through the experience of our everyday culture. Choosing a song for a playlist doesn't mean you're endorsing it; it just means it helps express something about the story. Navigating those tensions isn't straightforward, but it is real.
You'll find that what's meaningful to one person is a diabolical choice to someone else! So let people disagree - though try and keep it respectful. It's in the creating of the playlist that each individual discovers some new meaning. But then in the sharing you generally find something else as well as other people respond. Helping people to own their playlist and not to be embarrassed by it can be a challenge. This is where it's important to validate each person's contribution - everyone has a story to tell!
When you have shared your results on the experiment, why not share your playlist. Drop by via the community page and upload your playlist to share with the rest of the Alchemy community. While there, have a listen to other playlists and interact around the stories. We've found this is when the most interesting stuff happens!

Start the experiment

The whole point of The Alchemy Project is to experiment with new approaches to engaging people with the Bible. So we don’t know before we start whether the experiments are going to work well or not. We expect that some bits will be good and others not so good – and that’s where we need you to share your learning! That way, other people from all across the world can benefit from the trailblazing work you’ve been doing.

So once you’ve done the experiment head back here to give your feedback. Thanks so much for taking part. This is a really exciting opportunity to learn together and to really find new ways to reshape our practice of Bible engagement with people.

12 people joined Average Feedback

Playlists

Top Community Feedback

Ben Whitnall

One of the things that I think is smart about this approach – namely, that we are at home with expressing strong, emotional, self-expressive and differing opinions about music. Those are all things that (in my opinion) we *should* feel comfortable with when it comes to the Bible as well, and that would enhance our exploration of it, particularly in groups.

I've been to a lot of group Bible studies and similar in my time and you hardly ever get that. It's almost impossible to get to from the all-too-common 'comprehension test' type approaches. I'm sure we can all nod along and agree that Jesus seems to approve of Mary's actions in Mark 14.6. But that doesn't let me in on how people are encountering the story, and by extension any of those 'life application points' we might be discussing. In one room, there could be someone for whom this is a love story, another for whom it's a diatribe against pride, another for whom it 'just feels sad', even if they cant' say why etc etc. That seems to me to be closer to the level where the Bible can/does operate as a 'lived-out story', yet it hardly ever gets talked about – partly because, actually, 'talking about it' is not a very conducive medium for that sort of stuff. But music *is*! Hurrah! Music opens up a novel, and vital, window on how different people experience Bible stories.

I found myself more eager than I'd like to admit to hear people's thoughts on it! (Another interesting dynamic in this experiment – strong sense of ownership?)

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(Young person 15-18)

It was a fun way to know about a Bible story and I love music and creating playlists. I shared because I was interested to see my friend's playlists and engaging with the Bible is best done in community.

I was interested to see what others would make it. I would say interacting helped me engage with the Bible story more. I learned loads about others taste of music and about their interpretation of Bible passages.

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Top Suggested Improvements For The Future Total: 3

 

Experiment Reviews 2 of 8

  • November 24, 2014

    My reflections on the process:

    This is a challenging exercise for people who don’t have a big music library. I realise that most teenagers will be far more connected with music as their ‘heart language’ than a 46-year-old-who-listens-to-talk-back-radio. But given that music is such an identity marker I wonder whether the requirement to put your music collection on show will tap into the anxieties around identity construction that so often plague young people. Perhaps not for all, but at least for some. It was certainly a factor in my initial reluctance to engage in the exercise… not to mention the lingering feeling that this selection is the online alternative to wearing an ‘I AM A BIG DAG’ badge.
    This isn’t an exercise I was able to complete at one sitting (I wonder how long it took others?). There was a real advantage to this because it meant I have been ruminating on Joshua 7 for a few weeks now, while I’m listening to other music as well as when I have quiet moments to think. It has made me go back to the text a number of times, looking for the other aspects of the story I haven’t put to music yet, and checking out whether the song choices I’ve made actually reflect what the passage is saying.
    An unexpected gift of the process was how the choice of a song led me back to reconsider the passage in a new light. Using the language of aesthetic educator Maxine Greene, engaging with music was able to ‘release my imagination’ that I was then able to profitably apply in a new way to the original text. There were a number of imaginative connections going on:
    from the text to a song-choice;
    from a song to a re-reading of the text;
    from a reflection on a text in relation to a song to another text in Scripture that sheds new light on the original text
    from a reflection on a song in relation to a text to the contrasting approaches to human life in the Bible and contemporary culture
    Overall assessment:

    The use of music helps prompt an imaginative engagement with the text, though the direction and extent of that engagement remains up for grabs. Whether the reflections are profound or superficial, and whether the engagement is fitting to the whole biblical revelation will depend on other scaffolding of the process than just selecting a playlist. My research is exploring if such a framework for guiding transformative engagement can be articulated, and if so, what it would look like.

  • Kaley Field on December 1, 2014

    12 Year 10 RS students were asked to create playlists from a selection of Bible stories. 1 couldn't do the activity because of their faith as a radical muslim. 1 shared their's with the RS teacher and that student was Jewish. The remaining 10 students were also muslim and all created playlists but didn't share digitally but discussed in class instead because I assume they felt vulnerable, as they were out of their social groups.

    They enjoyed the activity and confirmed that they had understood the Bible story better, through it. I would do it as an activity with other class groups.

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  • lizzie telfer

    Great feedback! Keep it coming!

  • Gareth Lane

    Have just completed my playlist in our Alchemy Community in the UK. We chose the start of the Christmas story with angel coming to Mary, off to Liz, Magnificat. Struggled getting up to 8 tracks from it 6 seemed about the right number. This project though definitely helped me look at the scripture in more depth than I would do normally – rather than use someone elses carefully crafted commentary I’m creating my own commentary about the characters and how they are feeling/responding. Helped me mull over and digest the story at a deeper level. Would hope to do it again at somepoint.

    One thing I was wondering was I wonder if teenagers have a slimmer repertoire of music to choose from tho, simply coz they’ve lived less and listened to less music. I’m 43 so was able to pick from a wider (if somewhat dated!) pool. Keep up the good work guys.

  • Matt Valler

    Thanks Gareth, useful feedback!