I’ve just bought Jeff Buckley’s version of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah. It was an unashamedly bandwagon- jumping purchase, all thanks to the power of the internet. I was reading an article on the Times website about how loyal Buckley fan are hoping against hope that they can prevent X-factor’s Alexandra Burke from claiming Christmas number one with what they see as a sacrilegious version of their sacred song.

I’m not a Buckley fan; I’ve never owned, or even listened, to his music before. However there was something about this quest to show the world the real thing instead of the sanitised, homogenised, sensationalised version that really appealed to me. So in a couple of clicks iTunes was whirring away and I was listening to some new music. I don’t follow X-factor so I have no reason to put more money in Simon Cowell’s pockets. I liked Elton John’s comment. (Yes, I’m a fan and have an extensive collection of his music!) Despite the fact this season’s winner will sing with him he says he despises the show, although not the hopefuls involved. He’d prefer to see people playing their own stuff rather than singing his songs week after week.

Authenticity: it’s an attractive quality. If we are sick of people in entertainment producing shallow copies of other people’s masterpieces then the same is true when it comes to issues of faith. All too often we sense insincerity, or an unhealthy showmanship. Perhaps we feel someone isn’t really singing from their own song-sheet. They’re regurgitating someone else’s experience, not being honest about their own story. Therein lays the challenge. Faith gets a bad name because of its prepackaged proponents. It shouldn’t. Buckley’s fans are still routing for Hallelujah, but they want it presented properly. The same is true of faith. Confronted with the real thing, even critics have to admit its profoundly moving qualities.


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