I first heard about Michael Gungor completely by mistake while visiting Mars Hill in Michigan a few years ago. I went to hear Rob Bell teach and see what one of their typical gatherings looked like, but as it turned out Michael Gungor was leading worship and Ed Dobson was teaching. It ended up being one of the most memorable church gatherings I have ever been in.
Since then I have bought all his albums and when I heard he was writing a book, I couldn’t have been more pumped.
The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse is an interesting mix of childhood stories, band stories, and thoughts on: music, God, art, and culture. The book is both very entertaining and thought provoking.
What I most appreciated about the book was Gungors commentary on art. After reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, discussion on art, its origin, and the process, has been fascinating to me. What was particularly interesting to me was his thoughts on the source of art, the collision of art and technology, and the role of ‘the Critic’ when it comes to what we create. I think most artists will find his thoughts on ‘the Critic’ both encouraging and empowering.
Here are a few quotes from the book that stood out to me:
“If you want to know what is in the heart of culture, look at its art. Read its poetry, listen to its music, and you’ll begin to know the tree from which it fell.” (p. 15)
“Our art does not exist apart from our values or philosophies; it does not transcend our views of God, the universe, or ourselves; it comes directly from them.” (p. 17)
“Music is one human soul speaking to another.” (p. 74)
If you are a writer, a musician, a comedian, a painter, a preacher, an artist or creator in any way (Gungor would argue we are all creators – which is fundamentally true), I think you’ll really find this book to be both refreshing and challenging all at the same time.
If you have never listened to his music, I would highly suggest you check it out. His songs “Beautiful Things” & “This is Not the End” are hands down two of the greatest songs I have ever heard. Musically powerful and lyrically brilliant.