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Friday, 31 July 2009

And speaking of effort and expenditure...

I am like unto the Couch Potato, whose admiration for his Sports Idol, (or contempt for the athlete who doesn't measure up, for that matter,) is not diminished by the fact that he himself would rather die, than shift the weight of his own carcass unnecessarily.

In fact, my admiration for some of the views expressed in this combox may be increased by how far I am from living up to the ideals espoused by the Recovering Choir Director.
The fact that I believe that I shall inch closer to walking the walk with the new fiscal year earns me only my own contempt -- I'm like the Founding Father who so magnanimously avowed that he would no longer be guilty of the obscenity of owning other human beings -- oh, yeah, he'd get right on that.
After he died.
When, as it happened, the pitiful state of his finances actually caused those he vaguely intended to free be sold.... but I digress.

A very lively thread has issued, or rather been spun from commentary on a USCatholic article about the general state of the remuneration extended to lay church employees in the country, (the spinning specifically regarding the musician's position .... or "plight," depending on your attitude.)
Anyway, Aristotle had this to say, and every word of it rings true and good:
One of the reasons why I haven't returned to school to complete my degree in music is because it is grossly undervalued by most potential employers (read: most parishes and the priests and parishioners who comprise them). And forget about the music of the Church, which I have devoured since I left behind formal, accredited study in secular academia.

Based on (1) my experience in my first (and last) full-time position, which in the interest of full disclosure paid $26,000 in 2002–2003 dollars, and did not incorporate wedding and funeral responsibilities as there were none; (2) everything that I have learned about the mind and heart of the Church regarding its music during and since that fateful year; and (3) the playlists of the parishes I've frequented in my life, I'd consider accepting a paid position at most churches (full- or part-time matters not) the musical and spiritual equivalent of receiving "blood money."

The way that church music is still handled in most places — where static, visionless pragmatism-cum-mediocrity "in the spirit of Vatican II" and the tentacles of the Liturgical-Industrial Complex embrace, or even Low-Mass-as-liturgical-pinnacle EF situations — I wouldn't accept double, triple, or even quadruple the amount cited in the survey; you couldn't pay me enough to teach liturgically inappropriate and potentially spiritually cancerous music. Under the leadership of a pastor with a clear vision for liturgical praxis, however, I would work for free — and indeed, have done just that.

I don't say this to be elitist; if anything, I think it reveals my utter stubbornness and inability to tolerate a faulty status-quo. That said, I am thankful (1) that the skills unique to Catholic music that I've obtained outside the academy are actually being demanded; (2) for the remuneration I've received on a stipend basis; and (3) for the modicum of sanity I've retained for not feeling that I've been "bought off."
This SO reflects my own thoughts on the matter.
But my opinions are not evidenced in my behavior.

He calls that with which he refuses to be bought off "blood" money.
Perhaps because of my sex, it is not a hit man or snitch to whom I shamefacedly compare myself.

A-wearied of being no better than I ought to be, (yes, if not quite a harlot, at best one of Miss Kitty's saloon girls,) (can you tell that our cable just got some all-westerns-all-the-time channel, and it's been several days of non-stop Gunsmokes and Paladins?), I am having trouble getting through to family in the area to which I might be relocating, job-hunting for me.

They are not getting the idea that I am not looking for a job, I am looking for a parish, or if worse comes to worse, a single priest.

I don't want to again find myself trapped into having to do what I've been doing, I don't want to be a wage slave -- I want to be a volunteer and have the freedom to only do what I think ought to be done.

I want to be a full-time volunteer.
(Besides the freedom, I want to contribute to a liturgical music program that is better than one I could lead, but that's a' whole 'nother topic.)

The idea of my not bringing in an income, of our trying to get by without a "church job" seems to have brought out an unwonted sense fiscal responsibility in Himself.


Note, of course, that we have cable TV.
We're that kind of people.
Surely that ought to be remembered when we worry about whether I ought to seek a church job.


Charles said...

Yes, G, I have been a deckhand on this pirate ship for a while now as well, with the same malaise, shame and besot by procrastination and fear. Not fun, much less no joy to be found oftentimes.
Have some madeira, m'dear?

Scelata said...

What exactly is madeira?
Is it a fortified wine like sherry?

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Aristotle A. Esguerra said...

Being a volunteer is really freeing in many ways, at least as it's panned out in my particular case, in that it's turned itself into a stipend situation (where it's easy to consider any money received as bonus in the etymological sense of the word) — though there's still enough lack of interest locally that I'd accept volunteer work in the right situation. My schedule, music-wise, is hardly booked.

But more to the point, I'm reminded of Fr. Phillips's frank statement to music directors (CMAA '08) that "not only are your hands tied, but your feet are bound, and your mouth is covered with duct tape."

It's hush money as much as it's blood money. Not receiving it (or not being in a situation to need receiving it) makes one even freer to run one's mouth off — not that one should be coarse or undiplomatic about stating basic truths and first principles (I say that to remind myself more than anyone else). It also has the effect of eliminating divisions in one's heart — a very good thing indeed. No longer any need to rationalize away any "bad behavior."

(Plus I get to attend coffee hour — a not-insignificant perk! You can evangelize about proper, i.e., sung liturgy in ways you can't from the organ bench or conductor's stand.)

Charles said...

Oh, man/woman....
I have to really think this through. Ari, I remember what you said to me in June about the salvivic benefits.
But, when you've left a career at 55 (public school) four years ago at a pastor's generous invitation, only to realize that the gulags of the school system WERE the greener pastures, so to speak, and there are opportunities such as the parish school to re-course the stream (like at St. Edward's)- it's not like the school system is going to offer my gig back. More later.