A few words on bad experiences with church musicians. Like many people I succumb to the temptation to gossip. I was not good at avoiding it when I was young. Things on this blog and in others’ comboxes probably slip out that shouldn’t.
Those of you who follow me or are bothered by me probably know a meme I frequently return to is that orthodoxy is no guarantor or virtue. In other words, I don’t think that using chant and Latin, being against abortion on demand, or anything else that can be pigeon-holed as “conservative” means the person in question has some moral elevation over those who aren’t “conservative.” The same is true for social justice advocates, whether their stance comes from a sense of white guilt or from a more mature and considered desire to be on God’s side to set things right in the world.
On another site, a comparison was offered between NPM and CMAA. That contrast has been brewing this week here and there on the net. I wasn’t terribly impressed with this reported sentiment on PrayTell:
Heard at the CMAA church music colloqium: “How not to alienate Catholics in the pews, many of whom have never heard sacred music in church.”
It’s a variation on a theme. Not a wise one from the perspective of the spiritual life. Just when you think you have it all figured out, God will sneak up and surprise you badly. It happened in the Bible. It happened to the saints. It still happens today.
While comparing different “orchards,” Charles asked if I was painting a negative picture of CMAA, while suggesting that NPM is absolutely committed to better liturgy through better music and well-formed church musicians. And if they’re so different, I suppose, CMAA must not be committed to the good stuff.
Maybe it’s part of a paradox with which human beings must wrestle, but clearly both organizations and nearly all of their members are decent to excellent musicians committed to good liturgy. Why then, do their viewpoints conflict so much? One might conclude the liturgy wars aren’t really about good liturgy at all. But that would be dangerous. So it’s easier to malign the other camp as either ignorant of sacred music or Vatican II.
I recall my very enjoyable experience bantering with Jeffrey Tucker on Catholic Radio 2.0. It’s too bad we can’t bypass more of the mess in St Blogs with more efforts like that. But, of course, that would be dangerous. It would actually be evidence that the Catholic Church possesses that certain credal quality. Being One.
I’m more and more convinced that bad experiences with other believers are just that: singular bad experiences caused by one or both sides being stubborn, prideful, willfully ignorant, angry, or whatever. And they have little or nothing to do with the essence of liturgy, or whatever the topic of discussion might be. It’s the main reason why I avoid the term “liturgy wars.” I don’t believe in them. And when I see (or participate) in such a tussle, it’s really more about the people and the things of people, rather than about God and the matters of God.