Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy
This fear (which we prefer to cloak under the more respectable name of “anxiety”) is the real story behind the current steady decline in the humanities. According to Amazon, the most highlighted passage in all books read on Kindle—highlighted almost twice as often as any other passage—is from the second volume of The Hunger Games: “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.” Students want continual reassurance that they’re equipping themselves. They clothe themselves in an armor of achievement that they hope will protect them against uncertainties—of the job market, of course, but also deeper uncertainties about their status, their identities, their self-worth. Disciplines that have (or appear to have) a technical character and a clear arc of accumulated knowledge and skills leading toward a foreseeable career goal reinforce the feeling that they are working steadily, assignment by assignment, toward gaining more control over an uncertain future.
One cannot help but wonder if there is a “liturgical” formation that comes about as we learn to ask those fundamental questions that place us face-to-face with the human condition. Interesting to consider.
To choose efficiency is to brush aside suffering, to ignore friends in times of need, to prefer the familiar to the true. But to choose love–to listen to that other voice–is to choose an alternate route. Loving means waiting, sometimes for hours. To love is to waste time, to expect, even seek, delays in the work of establishing or maintaining relationship with another. Loving is terribly inefficient and always will be, and, I suppose, there’s no way around that.
3) A piece on contemporary Christian music at Second Nature written by T. David Gordon offers a rather constructive (and it seems deeply valid critique) of Contemporary Christian Music in worship. He offers 8 points, we give you one:
As with all novelties, once the novelty wears off, what is left often seems somewhat empty. In a culture that celebrates what is new (and commercial culture always does so in order to sell what is new), most people will pine for what is new. But what is new does not remain so forever; and once it is no longer novel, it must compete by the ordinary canons of musical and lyrical art, and very little CWM can do so (again, because its authors face a fifty-to-one ratio of competition from other generations). Even promoters of CWM prefer some of it to the rest of it; indicating that they, too, recognize aesthetic criteria beyond mere novelty. Even those who regard novelty as a virtue, in other words, do not regard it as the only virtue. And some, such as myself, regard novelty as a liturgical vice, not a virtue because of its tendency to dis-associate us from the rest of our common race, heritage, and liturgy.
He also offers a deconstruction of the term contemporary worship to begin with:
“Contemporary worship” to me is an oxymoron. Biblically, worship is what angels and morning stars did before creation; what Abraham, Moses and the Levites, and the many-tongued Jewish diaspora at Pentecost did. It is what the martyrs, now ascended, do, and what all believers since the apostles have done. More importantly, it is what we will do eternally; worship is essentially (not accidentally) eschatological. And nothing could celebrate the eschatological forever less than something that celebrates the contemporary now. So ultimately, I think the Apostles’ Creed will stick its camel’s nose into the liturgical tent, and assert again our celebration of the “holy catholic church, the communion of the saints.” The sooner the better.
Definitely worth the read.