CMAA Adventures

Just a few points from my friends in the CMAA.

First, they’ve completed their twentieth Colloquium, so good work on a good week of renewal with the music they love.

On the other hand, I’m trying to discern what Jeffrey Tucker’s real problem is. GIA’s monopoly is a problem, but not because stuff isn’t free. Or because it’s inexpensive. Is it because the road to the psalms now goes through Chicago? Is it a problem because traditionalist money is now mixing it up with guys who are supposedly homosexuals and have weird-looking smiles? Or who are UCC Christians? Or worst of all, with music they would have screaming nightmares about being forced to perform?

I would like to be sympathetic. Honest. I think big music conferences have become too market-driven, and I know that some of the best church music being composed today isn’t being published anywhere. I would like to see a more open environment for creativity. But when I see a comment like this:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the short cut to assessment of what a religious individual or organisation is trying to sell you is the cheesiness of the photo in the publicity material.

I’m more inclined to think the chief sin engaged here is envy. Not somebody else’s greed.

However, what was it about the St. Louis Jesuits that caused so many of them to leave not only the priesthood, but for any practical purposes, the Church? When I look at the SLJs, I don’t see much of an example worth imitating.

I had to laugh at the ignorance of the Society of Jesus, and the SLJ’s in particular here. I’m sure Mr Schutte’s detractors want to believe he is seducing people away from sexual purity through his music. I don’t doubt that the perception is that music with guitars seduced priests away from their service to the Church. But the truth can be found in the scorecard. Six men had “SJ” after their name in the various NALR recordings and sheet music in the 70′s. Four were ordained as priests and all still are Jesuit clergy. Two left the order before they were ordained.

I think there is a place to publicly question people about what they say and do in the name of God and the Church. I can’t believe that CMAA and its members are exempt from this. So I have to ask the question: do you seriously think chat like this makes CMAA attractive? Maybe two hundred fifty souls in Pittsburgh can change the world and you don’t need anybody else. If so, more power to ya.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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10 Responses to CMAA Adventures

  1. I’ve figured it out, Todd (as I type w/ one hand.)
    You afford yourself the luxury of being a civic health inpector, sometimes perusing the two banquet tables of the CMAA forum and Chant Cafe, obliquely to savor the richness of its bounty. But, you are more a “one-note Johnny” than Jeffrey in real intent. You, like the ficticiouss critic in “Ratatouille,” relish only the self-affirming goal of uncovering any flaw, whether in material (the caviar isn’t Beluga) or in presentation (this chef/restaurant purports to be mannered, but they break their own dogmas at will.)
    In any case, your disingenuity is no better than mine, if we will not (it is NOT a matter of cannot)try to see those gathered around the banquet tables as disciples of Christ trying their best to find the Way. It is NOT whether Dan, GIA, or NPM are the arbiters of righteousness and Christian behavior, nor are you, me, or Jeffrey.
    For the love of God, man, if you can’t see the larger vision, then consider our mothers’ admonition: if you can’t saything good….”
    Should your reply be “you, first” then we all are lost. And, you won’t get to the point of savoring the soup which takes you home.

  2. Todd says:

    Or maybe not.

    On one hand, I’ve had good conversations with you and Jeffrey about many of these things, and we’ve all three conceded many times we’re largely on the same page, especially when the tome in our hands treats the renewal of liturgy as each of us can best achieve it within our respective skill sets and environments. We go a bit deeper than food critics because the underlying aim is the Gospel. And on that matter, we all three embrace the notion that liturgy, good liturgy, is essential to the fruitfulness of our musical kerygma.

    That said, even after such a thrilling week for you all, frogman is still in his usual form, and another of your/our musical colleagues commented something along the strain, “Nobody’s defended Dan yet, so we must be doing something right.” C’mon, man, admit that this thread is cringeworthy in its cattiness. And doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of last week? Unless the point was self-affirmation. In that case, I’m not going to pile on for some navel-gazing: heaven knows we all need it from time to time, and we all indulge.

    For the record, I’m no less immune to failing Gospel principles. One difference is that I welcome dissent here, and I appreciate the frequent correctives I get from you, Liam, and others, both in the comments and by e-mail and phone. It doesn’t make me perfect, but I’m certainly not going to withhold my pen and decline to urge my colleagues at CMAA to muster some dignity and professionalism.

    I think if you brought our mothers’ admonition to the CMAA forum, and were insistent on it, a significant minority would just as soon run you out of Dodge than temper their tongues. It doesn’t reflect well on CMAA, church musicians, or Catholics. But we know it’s true.

  3. I try, Todd, I try.
    But do acknowledge, if you can, that the strident voices do not outweigh the many. Or discredit the body of membership, in fairness. It matters.

  4. And no, it precisely does not DEFEAT THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF LAST WEEK. I’m not shouting, didn’t wanna retype. If you believe it does, then we’re done here.

  5. Todd says:

    Charles, I know you try. I browse enough of the forum to know that.

    But you also know that I was invited to the forum and to CMAA by Jeffrey himself. And the strident voices certainly won the day when I would present reasonable dissent as well as constructive conversation.

    We’ve had conversations about the minority, and while you may know them personally as fine singers and appreciative wine drinkers, my experience is different.

    If you don’t believe this is damaging and your friends don’t feel inclined to trust me, let me suggest an experiment. Bring the forum comments about Dan Schutte to your wife, your pastor, or someone else you trust outside of our musical circles. What would they say?

  6. Todd says:

    Let me offer a suggestion. If you think it better that I refrain from commenting on CMAA entirely, just say I’m not the one and someone else can do it more fruitfully.

  7. I think it worthwhile to note that FNJ clearly admonished some in the questioned thread to not tread down that path, to which I then concurred. And I have further cited this thread as proof of the damage to all that results.
    But, outside of lukewarm, distanced “attaboys” have you ever given due credit for the huge amount of good works done by CMAA regulars? From my vantage, no, you haven’t. No, I don’t want you to self-censure. It would be to everyone’s benefit if you were more circumspect with your observations and criticism, more “holistic,” if you will.
    But, this is your blog. You’re right, I’m going to work on the plank in my eye now. You carry on with things as you see them. Peace/out.

  8. Todd says:

    “From my vantage, no, you haven’t.”

    Fair enough. Point taken.

    I have been critical of Professor Mahrt’s approach to liturgy, and I’ve been generally critical of the focus on choirs and the lack of consideration for the assembly.

    Most of the best “good work” we all do is in our parishes weekend after weekend, and since I don’t even get exposed to what my nearby colleagues do, I’m hardly in a place to offer a pat on the back for good unison blend, or programming that people in the pews sing. I’m inclined to assume good work is going on, and were it not for the unwelcoming attitude, I’d strongly consider a Colloquium in the future. No doubt the instructors (except perhaps in liturgy) are first rate.

    And I should realize as much as anyone that our internet personae don’t quite match up to reality.

    As for the future, I will search to find good material on CMAA and reform2 and post it here when I do.

  9. Sam Schmitt says:

    Jeffrey’s reflection on the colloquium captures its spirit much better than a string of sour comments on the MS forum.

    http://www.chantcafe.com/2010/06/reasons-for-peace-and-contentment-at.html

    (And for penance, Todd, you can highlight the “strident” voices at PrayTell and other progressive places!)

  10. Todd says:

    For the record, Sam, I have no beef whatsoever with the Colloquium, only with the internet face of the organization.

    The Colloquium accomplishes what the NPM schools aim to achieve: a sense of intentional community for a week among the members, formation in music and liturgy, and generally an affirming experience to “feed” people for the coming year: all good things.

    PrayTell’s more strident progressive voices rarely if ever descend into outright insult of a person.

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