The Culture We Deserve: February 2005 Archives

Pain, great pain


I don't know what it is, but I bet it hurts.

This at a religious education conference, where else, in LA.

The Honky-Tonk Mass


I have been reading another Merton book, No Man is an Island. In this book, Merton discusses various aspects of the interior life. One such area that he briefly addresses is that of liturgy and art.

Merton writes:

“If the Church has emphasized the function of art in her public prayer, it has been because she knew that a true and valid aesthetic formation was necessary for the wholeness of Christian living and worship. The liturgy and chant and Church art are all supposed to form and spiritualize man’s consciousness, to give him a tone and a maturity without which his prayer cannot normally be either very deep or very wide or very wide or very pure.”

After reading this, I immediately thought of the music so prevalent in most parishes today, that of the ilk published by OCP. I’ve been kind of vaguely aware lately that I was missing something at Mass, I had the uneasy feeling that something was not quite right. I realized the problem might lie in the lack of true artistic expression in our worship. The problem is that with this type of music is not just that it is bad in itself, although most of it truly is, but that it, in fact, detracts from the “valid aesthetic formation” that is necessary for us to experience true Christian living and worship. It trivializes everything about the Mass and therefore about our daily lives as Christians. This trivialization affects every aspect of our prayer life. If the Mass is made to sound little different from what we might hear on any oldies station playing the likes of Teen Angel, what are to take away from that experience? That what we have experienced is no different from what we go through in our every day lives.

No wonder then, that people show up for Mass looking like they just came from the gym, or worse. No wonder that people show up for Mass late and leave early to make up for it. No wonder that we have so little respect for the Eucharist.

In one short paragraph, Merton helped me see that the problem with the lack of real art present in our worship, especially in the music, is not only the discomfort of listening to banal music, but that it is truly a hindrance to deepening my relationship with my Lord at Mass.

I guess I get a little worked up about the topic of liturgical music because I'm a convert. In a way, I feel cheated. There is only one time in my life, prior to just ten years ago, that I attended Mass, it was in the '60s. It was in a small town in Canada. A friend of mine and I drove my mother up to Mt. Forest to visit my elderly aunt who had retired up there. My friend was Catholic, and since it was the weekend, he wanted to attend Mass. There was a Catholic parish in that little town, and so he and I went. The only thing I remember about it was that I was impressed, I sensed that it was a very solemn, otherworldly experience. Since I converted, I have not often felt that way attending Mass. I think I'm missing something that was very precious that went out with Vatican II.

I'd like to have it back.

The Incredible Jumping Mouse of El Paso County


Eric Alterman has a blog on the MSN website. Eric Alterman is, of course, a liberal. The latest posting today is how President Bush is anti-science, and by implication, anti-intellectual. The proof of this anti-intellectualism? The budget for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife has been slashed in the President’s most recent Budget proposal, and, alas, morale at the Fish and Wildlife Service is plummeting.

Living in Colorado has offered me the opportunity to witness, first hand, the kind of “science” the FWS engages in. Specifically, we here on the Front Range had been living with the effects of the addition of the "Prebles Jumping Mouse" to the Departments Endangered Species List. In case you are not familiar with the Prebles, it is a 9 inch mouse that can jump a couple of feet in the air and change direction in mid-flight. The question is, what makes this mouse qualify for the Endangered Species list? Well, the classification is based upon a 1954 study of 3 mouse skulls and 11 mouse skins that determined the little guy was a separate, and of course, rare, (since they only studied 3 skulls) species from all the other populations of jumping mice found all over the Front Range. I personally think the skulls discovered were those of scientists from the U. S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, but I’m no expert. In any case, this 1954 study led to the mouse being added to the protected list.

You might be wondering why one should be concerned if a 9 inch mouse is offered protection based upon the full faith and credit of the United States Government. Well, as reported in a CNEWS article on January 31 of this year, this status has caused developers, builders, landowners, and local governments to spend as much as $100 million protecting the little critter. And, as the story points out, it seems, upon further study, that the Prebles Jumping Mouse may not be endangered after all. In fact, it may not really exist as a separate species. I guess they found a few more skulls.

“Scientists” at the Fish and Wildlife Service have made a career, at Government taxpayer expense, of studying and protecting a non-existent species. When President Bush steps in and proposes a little budget cutting, their natural reaction is to write to all the media claiming that he is “anti-science” and their morale is being damaged.

I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like the President is doing his job and making budget choices based upon the needs of the nation, not the needs of some Government bureaucrats who don't know an endangered species if they see one.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the The Culture We Deserve category from February 2005.

The Culture We Deserve: June 2004 is the previous archive.

The Culture We Deserve: April 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.