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Crash course

Music | UbuWeb.com offers an online repository for the arts

Issue: "Shattered dreams," April 5, 2008

In the 1960s, evangelicals like Francis Schaeffer and Hans Rookmaaker began calling for rapprochement between evangelical Christianity and the arts. The rift was deep and wide, but now the internet has made bridging that gap easier. No website provides a more efficient crash course in artistic arcana than UbuWeb.com.

UbuWeb was, according to its FAQ page, founded "as a repository for visual, concrete and, later, sound poetry." It has gone on to encompass "all forms of the avant-garde and beyond." The "beyond" is important. On UbuWeb one can examine, usually in more media than one, not only the aesthetically and morally dubious (Allen Ginsberg, for example) but also artists who defy categorization.

Consider Samuel Beckett. Few playwrights have made as deep an impression on the modern mind, yet to many Beckett is known only, if at all, for Waiting for Godot. On UbuWeb, one can watch, listen to, and download free of charge Beckett-related media of this most influential of dramatists.

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Consider also Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian communications expert famous for declaring, "The medium is the message." Besides being an important influence on the late Christian singer-songwriter Mark Heard, McLuhan was a devout Catholic. His published insights, while not explicitly religious, spring from an orthodox mind and a desire to extend the ramifications of a Christian worldview into an increasingly electronic world. UbuWeb contains downloadable audio documenting his thought.

To be sure, UbuWeb's hundreds of recordings, videos, and texts contain chaff as well as wheat. But the former is worth winnowing through to get to the latter.

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