Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For those so tempted...

Fr. Longnecker has hit on a problem (not at all unique to Rome) but which lives in the same space as faithfulness, truth, and beauty...  Listen to a few of his words. . .

If you are a convert to the Catholic faith from Lutheranism of Anglicanism or any other form of tasteful religion, then you will have to deal with Catholic kitsch. What are we to do with the trashy trinkets, the horrid holy cards, the sappy statues? How do you put up with the banal hymns, bad preaching and sentimental religiosity?

It's true we have tacky music and bad hymns. But we have Palestrina and Mozart and Byrd as well. We do have plastic glow in the dark rosaries and those night lights you plug in with the Blessed Mother. But we also have the Pieta and the Sistine Chapel and Michaelangelo and Carravagio. It's true we have brutal churches that look like a cross between a space ship and a parking garage, but we also have Chartres and St Mark's Venice and Chartres and Mont St Michel.

In other words, the upward call of God comes to us while we live in the reality of a great many things that by their nature do not ascend but, rather, hold us in chains to this world...  I have often lamented that the Church of Johann Sebastian Bach is also  home to praise bands singing one poorly written line of praise sixty-seven times and that the place where the arts should flourish has often been the place where we have sacrificed beauty on the altar of expediency.  But in my case I was speaking of Lutheranism -- its promise and its reality.  Although I am not sure I am at all comforted by the prospect of encountering the same exact problem elsewhere; it is like saying you have the flu but so does everyone else you know.

In the end, we pray that God will save us from ourselves... which was the problem all the way along and the very reason our Lord became incarnate.  All that troubles us is not outside of us; much, if not most, proceeds from the heart and this is not exclusive to any one denomination.


Janis Williams said...

Which only goes to make the connection; Baptist theology is essentially Catholic theology. Take a look in Lifeway, and you are overwhelmed by kitsch.

My mom recently died, and the memorial cards and thank you cards they provided were by a certain 'Christian' artist with the initials T.K.

To use a word provided by Rod Rosenbladt: "vomitworthy."

Anonymous said...

Not quite.

The Catholic principle of incarnation is quite foreign to Baptist thought. The finite is not capable of bearing the infinite.

That there is Catholic kitsch out there is beyond doubt. Catholicism makes room for it all. But when Catholics (and Lutherans for that matter) get it right it is breathtaking. There's a reason that the church has long been a patron of the arts.


Anonymous said...

Traditional Catholic Art and architecture is breathtaking. I do wish Lutherans would rediscover an appreciation for the traditional (Pre-WW I) Arts. All that is classy needs to be preserved and should not put in a closet simply because it is "old". The Willow Creek Lutheran aversion to anything that might smack of being "Catholic" is unnerving.

Who needs to sing during a Catholic mass when the four or five people standing next to the organ and leading the songs overwhelm the rest of the congregation in volume. That was my experience when attending mass as a guest last year.

I have also heard that Methodists cannot sing. How true is this.

Terry Maher said...

Man, I'm so close to posting something that the Catholic principle of incarnation is quite foreign to the Incarnation and falsifies the revealed reality of Christ for a "principle" making the reality a metaphor for remaking itself after the world, not the other way round, but I won't.

Anonymous said...

Post away, dude :) My point was merely that the idea that the Infinite could be present in a bit of bread and wine is totally foreign to Baptist sensibility.

Who needs to sing during a Catholic mass when the four or five people standing next to the organ and leading the songs overwhelm the rest of the congregation in volume. That was my experience when attending mass as a guest last year.

Too true in some Catholic parishes. On the other hand, there is a movement afoot to form Scholas in others which will employ the classic heritage of Catholic music.

I know it is difficult for Lutherans, with their rich heritage of hymns to understand but hymns per se are not a part of the Catholic legacy and are still a relatively new innovation for some Catholics and many still consider it an intrusion on the Mass.

Now that the Mass texts have been renewed the bishops are looking at the state of music in the parishes.

If you want to hear Catholic music as it should sound, tune in some time to Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

As for traditional Catholic art yes, it is breathtaking but I have also seen contemporary Catholic art that is just as appealing.