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Peter Leithart's new First Things article, "How the Church Lost Her Soundscape" is an absolute must read.  I've excerpted it below, but please go read the whole thing.

"The desire to make worship more appealing to young people was a major impulse behind the development of contemporary Christian music in the first place. The magnitude of this shift cannot be overestimated. Culture is a gift from the old to the young, and the younger generation’s grateful reception is a sign of honor for fathers. Cultural transmission has been thrown into reverse, also in the church."


"For all its variety, pop music is dismally monophonic. Transgression is encouraged, so long as it doesn’t get too close to the music. Lady Gaga wears her meat dresses and Rihanna feigns sex on stage, but when the music starts they are both as frothy as Justin Bieber. There can be no Stravinsky of pop music."


"Expertise is one of the values of modern culture, but expertise has always had a limited scope. We trust experts in physics and computer programming and perhaps foreign affairs. But the suggestion that there are experts in aesthetics, musicians who know what music one should appreciate, is greeted with hostility, also in the church. 'I know what I like' stops every argument, buttressed by 'Musical taste is subjective.' Lebanese organist Naji Hakim has lamented that in the Catholic Church 'many in positions of liturgical responsibility, with no musical education as regards technique or aesthetics, have come to believe in a tabula rasa, denying any lineage whatsoever.' Professional musicians have been 'sidelined' as 'the least common denominator has become the rule.' He wonders whether Catholics 'realize the level of mediocrity which the present liturgy has reached.'"


"The church created the soundscape for Western Christendom because she cultivated her own musical life in the liturgy that united human voices with the angelic choirs of heaven. I can hardly imagine a more worrisome sign of worldliness, or clearer evidence of the church’s identity crisis, than our eager renunciation of our own soundscape and our determination instead to reproduce the world’s."

5/13/2014 06:13:00 pm

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