“Ask a Priest: Would It Be OK to Perform Reggae?”

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Q: I’m a drummer who’s been studying in different colleges around the U.S. Since I’m Catholic, is it wrong for me to play reggae music ? Almost all of it is religious, and it feels wrong to me. I play it and I like it, but my conscious is nagging at me for some reason (usually it’s right). You see, reggae was created in Jamaica when they heard American jazz on their radios. They basically took it to their church and mixed it with a gospel feel. It evolved into reggae. Also I know smoking pot in itself is wrong, but they believe it connects them spiritually to Selassie I, whom they think is Christ returned or something absurd and blasphemous. Should I participate in reggae? It does exclude a whole genre of music, which means less work, but I would gladly stop it. Even when they sing about marijuana, it’s religious to them. This might be a strange question, I know, but any input would be appreciated. – F.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good that you are at least questioning the types of music you want to get involved with.

Ultimately this is a decision only you can make. What could guide you is a line from St. Paul, “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Perhaps a thought experiment will help. Imagine you are on your deathbed. When you look back on your life, what kind of music will you have wanted to have dedicated your life to? To music that glamorizes drug use or espouses some false Christlike figure?

You mention about getting “less work.” As Christians we might be called at times to sacrifice things for a higher good. This will require an act of faith in God’s providence.

That might be the deeper question here. Is the Holy Spirit calling you to have confidence in divine providence and to dedicate your talents to music that brings true glory to God?

In any case, if your conscience is really bothering you, you don’t want to ignore it lightly. Even if playing reggae might not always be strictly sinful, this voice in your interior might be an invitation from the Lord.

This might be something to take to prayer.

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One Comment
  1. The answer seems obvious… this person with musical ability is getting his conscience ‘pricked’ because of what those who began this form of music support: 1. false messiah 2. using it in a ‘religious’ context by their interpretation but not a Christian religion, and use of a substance that makes and ‘feel high’ but not the ‘high’ of authentic spirituality (GOD)

    While ‘just playing the music’ (without words) may be challenging as a musician, but as Father indicated, when you have to explain ANY CHOICES made on this life… can you explain to The Way, Truth, and Life that with a musical ability, you chose that which supports a ‘non christian religion’ ‘false messiah’ and ‘drug use’ to feel high?’ If music is your ability, and you are educated with it, you could probably always find work teaching others how to play an instrument, you could play at weddings, birthday parties, dances, etc. (mainstream music) Not HARD ROCK… music that lifts the spirit. (you could sing in a church group, or play the church organ . . . or add guitar to a church choir) and MIRACLE OF MIRACLE… those who give TO GOD, GOD usually directs to employment of a substantial nature. (wage wise) NOT necessarily fame and riches but ‘enough’ to make a living and a GO(O)D life.

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