Atlanta congregation explores Taylor Swift’s impact on culture

Singer Taylor Swift performs onstage at Accor Stadium in Sydney on Feb. 23, 2024. (David Gray/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Singer Taylor Swift performs onstage at Accor Stadium in Sydney on Feb. 23, 2024. (David Gray/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

The Rev. Megan Lloyd Joiner doesn’t consider herself a “Swiftie” but she appreciates the influence the Grammy-winning singer has had on today’s youth and culture.

So at the 11 a.m. Sunday service, Joiner, the community minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, will deliver a sermon that looks at Swift’s work and her ability to make connections.

She believes that faith and spirituality are ultimately about one’s lived experiences and the desire to form a connection to one’s deepest self, to others and to the divine.

“In our faith tradition, personal experience of the holy and the sacred is vital to our understanding of what is most important,” Joiner said. Her 10-year-old daughter is a big Swift fan and will deliver a reflection at the 11 a.m. service at 2650 N. Druid Hills Rd. in Atlanta.

“As we look not only at the individual songs or albums, but a body of work that chronicles a life, we can reflect on the change and growth that has happened in our own lives.”

Swift’s music is not the focus of the service, rather it will be used as starting point for deeper spiritual questions.

What have the eras of our lives taught us? How do you maintain integrity in a world that pushes and pulls you in several directions?

“Midnights” is the title of Swift’s last project, which garnered the Album of the Year honor at the Grammy Awards (Her record-setting fourth, by the way.) She’s also just got off her “The Eras Tour.”

Swift, though, is not the first top pop culture phenomenon that has weaved its way into a service at the pluralist congregation.

There have been service topics that have revolved around the “Barbie” and “Black Panther”, Lizzo and Dolly Parton. So far no word on whether a sermon is planned on Travis Kelce, Swift’s current boo and a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs.

UUCA Senior Minister the Rev. Taryn Strauss recalls that the release of the first Black Panther movie people in that congregation and beyond were finding theological meaning in the story line and applying it to their belief system.

Members of the congregation includes people who identify as agnostic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and atheist. The common thread is the belief that all beings are connencted and all people have inherent worth and dignity, she said.

“One of our sacred sources of our faith is direct experience, the transcending mystery and wonder of life.”

That may be through music, art or film, she said. She considers all part of the creative spirit that moves within everyone,

“We think about life as a sacred text,” Strauss said. “That is the text you return to to contemplate something greater than yourself, the mystery beyond all of us. Some people call it God, some people call it spirit. Some people just call it creation.”