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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Setting aside music for Him

Deacon Keith Fournier on why he doesn't like "Christian Music."
I think his take is interesting because from what I can gather he is a music-lover but not essentially a musician, (despite his creds as an Elvis impersonator and playing in and writing for a rock band.) [emphasis supplied]
I love all kinds of music—from sultry women rhythm and blues singers—to jazz, contemporary, to the best of the Western tradition's classical treasury. Finally, although I am Boston bred, I have become a Virginian by choice and with it I have expanded my musical taste. My oldest daughter provided my entry into the world of country music. I have moved from hiding my country leanings to actually walking into a store and unapologetically purchasing the latest offerings without apology. However there is one kind of music I don’t like. I don’t like much of what is often called “Christian" music.

I know this will scandalize some who read these words. But at least hear me out. First, I am a Christian. My relationship with the Lord and my life as a part of His Catholic Church is the most important aspect of my identity, my family and my reason for living. I am also a member of the Catholic clergy and serve at the altar. I absolutely love good worship and liturgical music. My dislike for much of what is called “Christian" music is simple to understand, I question the term itself. I actually do not like the expression. It is sometimes a part of a kind of worldview that separates faith from real life. This kind of an approach sometimes seems to present music that does not have religious words attached as “secular.” Interestingly, an entire genre of such music has evolved. It use to be almost exclusively part of evangelical culture but now it is spreading into some contemporary Catholic circles.

All music is a gift from God if it edifies the human person. It is meant to be enjoyed as a part of the fabric of the human experience. Putting “God words” on a melody does not make it Christian. In fact, sometimes it has the opposite effect leading the listener to believe that Christianity is simply some kind of “holier than thou” club for those who live in a parallel universe—rather than a way for all men and women to reach their highest destiny. Through the Incarnation of the Son of God the entire human experience was transformed. Christians tend to forget the extraordinary depth of that ancient and fundamental truth of our faith.

Christianity is a relationship—with God through his Son in his Spirit—and through Him with one another as a part of His body. We literally live in the Church now—in Christ. In Him we are sent into this world to carry on His redemptive work. No inanimate object or creation of the human person is “Christian”. Only persons are capable of having a “relationship” with the Lord. Of course artistic creations such as music can be especially set aside for Him. Creation itself is in a relationship with the Creator. However, it is only human persons who freely embrace an intimate relationship with the Trinity, through Jesus Christ. That is the root meaning of “holy” in the original language—to be set aside for God.

That setting aside of music for Him is why liturgical music was so vitally important (and still should be) throughout the history of the Christian church. However, some of that Church has forgotten what liturgy is or has trivialized its uniqueness. I also find increasingly distasteful some of the “ditties” that have emerged in some of our worship and substitute themselves for the grandeur and majesty befitting solemn worship of the all Holy God. Are they truly fitting sacrifice to the God who made the universe in all of its glory?

Go read the rest.

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