A Bad Look

 Checking a few internet sites, I ran across a most interesting thread at a church music site. One commenter there:

This thread is a bad look for the forum.

The thread in question is titled, “Bishop Schneider Speaks Out,” and it deals with skepticism on the pandemic. Maybe there are a lot of things about which to be skeptical. Government response: too much, but especially too slow. The current system of medical care and health insurance. China. The value of “spiritual communion” versus full and active participation.

Full disclosure here: I have found a few people associated with CMAA to be sound, helpful, friendly, and professional. For the most part, the forum is a simmering pot of nonsense disguised as outrage, envy, conspiracy theories, and bad temper.

I found a sensible comment in the midst of it all:

Your views on music and liturgy are not credible to many, including people like me who happen share the same tastes for music/liturgy, but especially to pastors. You wonder why there isn’t more plainchant or polyphony in the celebration of Catholic liturgy – look in the mirror. Read your own posts.

This was my experience prior to the renewal of permission for unreformed liturgy. Latin Mass devotees were among the dissidents in my home diocese. They did as they pleased whenever they could find sympathetic clergy, and they gave Latin, chant, and old music a bad name.

A musician either has to associate with people who accept reality and live in the 21st Century, but support the worst in music, or associate with people who support the best in music but are rotten to the core in every other way. Sad.

A damning assessment, and not really true. It might also be the increasingly rarefied circles in which I find myself. But many church musicians provide a steady stream of good music for their parishes. And I mean good music, well done, that most of the people can sing most of the time. And at the right time of the liturgy.

When I was in campus ministry, I knew a few students who would lean to traditional music, including chant. If any of them had been so inclined to go deeper into it, I would not have encouraged their involvement in the CMAA. I would have sent them to Collegeville in Minnesota.

My assessment hasn’t changed. The loss of people like my friend Charles has impoverished the organization. And he was just one soul.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to A Bad Look

  1. Liam says:

    “For the most part,”

    You may be drawn to exploring threads where that is quite true of the thread.

    But I don’t believe is as true of most threads. What I see is how much solidarity we all share in human nature in these things, traddies, progs, unaligned, et cet. Over time, it’s taxing to resist THEMing, especially when many people give cause to continue.

    And yet.

    The week we’re about the enter is a celebration of how God’s merciful loving-kindness embraced, redeemed and glorified that nature. Not in false equivalence, but in fierce, bloody love.

    • Todd says:

      And yet, those positive threads have what? Small handfuls of comments. Positivity doesn’t engage this subculture. The thread in question has 130 comments as of last night and still adding them.

      I’m not getting distracted; only making a few observations.

  2. Liam says:

    I’ll add an observation: the dynamic of bunches of folks with assumptions fiercely held and walled is perhaps more common in the same kinds of communities that may appear to have overcome tepidity and pragmatism: among others, intentionally gathered communities rather than a more randomized attraction based on mere geography.

    My first encounter with this outside my family (which had a fascinating division of assumptions and communication styles) was in my collegiate literary society, with a large group of paleoconservative hotheads and a smaller group of radical hotheads, and a largest middle of eclectic folks who refused to fit in any box.

    Years later, in two successive communities, it was the Englightened and Right-Thinking(TM) radical progressives who thundered anathema and worse at the Benighted and Wrong-Thinking(TM) (you’ve not had a proper liturgical experience until you hear preachers heckled vulgarly and priests ministering communion conspicuously shunned in the communion procession. Et cet.) But of course I’ve also witnessed it among traditionalistes, but hardly all traditionally inclined folks.

    One thing I learned a long time ago is that the mode of liturgy that a given person finds subjectively most sanctifying is far from necessarily an indication of their assumptions and views on a lot of other things, so it’s vital to stop short of a reductive view of appearances even over a long period of time if one has not had the opportunity to have a relationship with folks in wider and deeper contexts.

    In my experience, to bother confronting people in online argument, it helps to see what assumptions are shared, and work that frequency. Not everything is the Pettus Bridge or the Siege of Jerusalem in the First Crusade; grandiosity is usually a fellow-traveler with egotism, and not of the Gospel.

    • Todd says:

      I notice our friends have excised the dissent from the thread. The embarrassment must have been too much to bear.

      • Liam says:

        What triggered pruning seems to have been a particularly angry starboard-side comment (and some reactions to it), which I missed.

      • Todd says:

        They were taking down the comments I cited above as I checked in last night. They seemed satisfied enough when the guy left them to their own devices. I did notice they left up the Gather Us In critique, like that had anything to do with the virus. Enough of the day’s comedy …

      • Liam says:

        True, GUI parodies are, in my experience, a form of release for decades* now, nothing to do with pestilence. Mind you, CMAA is hardly alone in pruning; P/T also prunes, and not only for breaking the blog’s First Principles. Blog owners/moderators get to do what they will.

        * From a dear liturgical musician friend of mine who had no antipathy to contemporary Catholic music, within a couple of years after the publication of GUI (from a longtime group of church musicians who also parodied Happy Birthday to the tune of Pange Lingua for a very serious organist whose birthday fell during Holy Week):

        We are culled, we are frozen,
        we are stuck in here together,
        we are promised to tomorrow
        while we’re in this bag today.
        We are corn, we are onions;
        We are peppers – just add cheese!
        We’re the harvest for your hunger,
        We are carrots, we are peas(e)

  3. Liam says:

    Sorry, that’s Anthem… I forget. That’s the one I kept.

  4. Liam says:

    Sorry, that’s Anthem… I forget. That’s the one I kept in memory, not GUI. But that got in-time parodies, too.

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