Let’s get the God on in here

Your erstwhile editor was noting with interest this tale of a church-in-a-nightclub, seeing as she isn’t so recently retired as a Philadelphia DJ and music critic, that appeared on NPR today as part of its News and Notes feature:

A California pastor has found a way to take his sermons to young people in Los Angeles without waiting for them to come to him.

He’s set up a church inside an L.A. nightclub.

The venue may be a little unorthodox, but the message seems to be connecting with a Hollywood crowd that knows a lot more about partying than praying.

On a typical Saturday night at the Mayan nightclub, it’s hard to get from one side to the other without being bumped or ground. Downstairs in the basement hot, sweaty bodies gyrate in a way that does not inspire godliness.

But everything changes on Sunday, when groups of 20-somethings swoop in to scrub away the debris from the night before and prep for a different kind of gathering.

The article underscores the semantic ambiguity of the term “nondenominational” as a descriptor to imply that a church lies outside mainline Christianity:

The church is officially non-denominational, but the doctrine is Southern Baptist. Those traditional values may seem a far cry from this trendy club scene, but McManus doesn’t see a conflict.

“We focus, in some ways, on how to disengage Jesus and the Bible from everything people know about Christianity as a religion,” McManus says. “[We] just strip it down to the human, and raw, kind of conversations.”

The church is called Mosaic, to symbolize diversity. And every Sunday, McManus welcomes new guests.

But this is the line that made your editor sit up and go, “Say What?

One of the most famous attendees is apl.de.ap, a founding member of the hip-hop band the Black Eyed Peas.

He helped the band win a Grammy with “Let’s Get it Started,” a song that is sometimes played during Mosaic’s services. He says that when he thinks of his band’s name, Black Eyed Peas, he associates it with the spiritual soul food that he gets from coming to church. He heard about the church from a friend, but he already knew of the nightclub.

OK. For the record, that award-winning single’s album version is “Let’s Get Retarded.” The Wikipedia entry sums up the background of how the radio version came into existence:

The phrase “Let’s Get Retarded” is an offensive term used throughout the United States that means to go crazy on the dance floor, synonymous with “Go Dumb” (another insulting word for people who are mute) and “Get Stupid” (a term used to insult individuals with low IQ’s). The colloquial meaning of “retarded”, as used in this song, refers to being very carefree and having a good time at the expense of others – and more often meaning intoxicated or high, similar to the colloquial use of getting “blind”, “wasted”, or “smashed”. The phrase is chanted at clubs and dances and used in everyday slang, but the word “Retarded” is offensive to people who see it as put-down of those who are mentally challenged. It was edited because many people find this usage offensive, making the song unsuitable for play on some radio stations and at sports games.

The article is here, and audio will be available after 4 p.m. ET.

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