Main Image: Fiona Basile
As a young girl growing up in Ireland music was everywhere and it was only natural for Maeve Heaney to pick up a guitar and start playing.
She told 96five that music is engrained in the Irish culture and although it can be seen as a result of economic hardship, it goes deeper than that.
“Ireland has been quite poor compared to other European countries; the European Union described the country as a second world country. The generation of my mother would have known hunger, but music can be created with practically nothing.
“The deeper reason is the embodied nature of Irish culture; Irish spirituality is a very holistic type of spirituality. That aids a musical sensibility, because music is primarily an embodied art form. You cannot make music without moving – even in a classical setting. I don’t think Irish culture can be understood without understanding it’s music.”
These days Dr Heaney is an academic at the the Australian Catholic University where she is the Director of the Xavier Centre for Theological Formation in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy. As well as working as a senior lecturer, Meave’s field of research is music in Christian faith.
“I seek to explore what music can mean for us and how we can use it better. Sometimes we fight in Christian circles; it’s often called worship wars, we fight about about styles of music and where it should fit.
“I think that can be because we haven’t explored what music means for human life – what does music and art provide that words don’t? What does God intend for us giving us the creative spaces and capacity that we have?”
“The aim of my research is so that both the church and the world will understand better what the arts bring to human life and flourishing, and support it more because I think it’s essential.”
Having grown up on the singer songwriters like James Taylor, and being influenced in part by U2, Meave weaves her theology into her music as a reflection of her faith.
“My music comes from the same place as my theology – it is my faith seeking understanding in a different way. That’s my definition of theology, faith seeking understanding and making sense of things.
“Theology is not some weird activity that some of us who know more do – on the contrary its a space for those who have faith and have questions as well. Music is one space in which I access and make sense of faith.”
Listen to the full interview with Dr Maeve Louise Heaney in the audio player above.
For more information go to Maeve Louise Heaney’s website.