Thursday, March 04, 2004

One of the marvelous things about the world God created is the wide variety of music. Religious music, often giving thanks and praise to God for the wonderful gifts like music we have to enjoy, is often criticized because a particular person's taste in music runs counter to the music being provided at their worship service. The assortment of music within any one denomination can vary from one end of the spectrum to another. Certainly, there are those congreations that only "allow" one type of music, but many communities of worship offer multiple services on a weekend and the music varies.

At one Christian church in my neighborhood, the congregation hears symphony music and highly skilled chorals each weekend. The criticism the members of this community raise toward my service (Catholic) is that it is boring, dull, non-inventive, non-creative, been there done that, why bother, not inspiring, etc. I respond by saying when I want to hear the symphony, I go to the concert hall. When I want Liturgy and Prayer, I go to Mass where the focus is on the Eucharist and not the performers.

Even within the Catholic church which leans toward orthodoxy the music varies widely. At our church we have Masses with no music, organ, piano, and guitar, and sometimes all in combination. If you are fortunate to have the music you like at the time of day you prefer for attending Mass, you experience a little bit of heaven. If not, it's a lot like purgatory. Yes, there is still doctrinal evidence for old purgatory and poor souls therein.

What isn't prefered is one style of music being dictated for all in one community. A variety, just like Baskin Robbins, because there is no accounting for taste. Sure, we take our hats off to tradition but let's not confuse tradition (little t) with Tradition (big T--the kind you can be excommunicated for not believing in). No church is more traditional than the old Roman Catholic Church, except her sister the Eastern Orthodox Church. But she has broadened her horizon to include the sounds of modern instruments. Before organs, what did the people hear at their liturgies? Ancient instruments like the stringed lute have been around long before pipe organs and the like.

The internet is full of opinions and info on the beauty of traditional organ music and chant. But you won't find much on the grace filled music played by gifted and creative and faithfilled guitarists in the Roman Catholic Church. These guitarists are criticized at every turn. I can only imagine what the lives of the people who yap on in protest against guitars in church must be like. I don't want to imagine, really. I imagine them to be dictators and people who listen to ultra-conservative voices on the airwaves. People who are stuck back in the Barry Manilow phase. PuLEEZ! There's purgatory for you.

Here's a site that offers the argument for variety in worship and praise music with a steady ear for good guitar music at Catholic Mass.

Take a look and open your mind.

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