Sunday, May 31, 2009

What next?
Here in PST Pentecost retires in just under two hours. I folded in "our souls' welcome Guest" into the General Intercessions that were offered today at our parishes. But for quite a while, as those who visit here or commiserate with me know, there seems to bear upon us an unwelcomed guest, something we cannot fathom but is visible and palpable to us daily. I'm reminded of the recent remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" when the mother of the spherical arks just sat in the middle of Central Park inert, but keeping the whole of human civilization trembling with "This is bad, it's the end, but when?"
Is this the same sort of suppressed hysteria and panic the ten apostles endured as one by one, from Peter on through, they fled to refuge rather than to stay with the Master. Probably. The night before, they were supremely mortal that they chose to sleep rather than to engage Him about what exactly happened at supper.
Well, on this day when Medes and Elemites could order lattes simultaneously and the Cappadocian barrista heard them (as well as understood them) speaking identically, we commemorate the promise that we would not be left orphaned.
But, as a long-lived orphan (tho' not like Annie) I can say things have been getting quite unreal for a considerably long time.
And I don't mean that the Lakers are playing the Magic instead of Boston or Cleveland. I'm talking Hieronymous Bosch weird, Salvador Dali weird, childhood nightmare weird.
This day inwhich we invoke the Spirit to come and sanctify us, to fill and energize our hearts with His Love- we are then instantly beamed back into Bizzaro Superman: Dr. Tiller is murdered and, to some, martyred while serving as what progressive RC's now call "A Minister of Hospitality" by some new Lee Harvey Oswald, who patiently waited his turn in line behind the Sara Jane Moores, Mark Chapmans, and the multitudes of the righteously scorned, waiting their number to be called for "Avenge Time." What next, indeed? Scattering, muttering and murmuring "Please, God, don't let the guy be Catholic.....Well, Homeland Security's on this like stink on manure....ProLife=Homegrown Terrorists...."
Oh, and by the way, OctoMom's getting her own reality TV program inwhich she's promised will eclipse Jon and Kate Plus Eight in all ways.
Oh, there's more coming. There's always more to come.
"Let all mortal flesh keep silence." Now, just for an hour even.
We need to be on our knees, yesterday. 'Cause, like was said in "No Country for Old Men," can't stop what's coming. Fear and trembling, perhaps?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Good Day.

We had a wonderful musical Sunday in our parishes. Our schola sang the Simple Choral Propers Introit by Richard Rice which was conveniently keyed in F Major as the pastor entered, at which time we seemlessly moved into three verses of "Hail the day that sees Him rise" (also in F.) Which then brought us to our revival of Proulx's Misa Oecumenica (in F maj/min,) so much Russian homophony you'd think we were Orthodox. Same for the Communio, the choral version by Rice, followed by "Amen: el Cuerpo de Cristo." Then a lovely anthem by Tremain, "O all ye people, clap your hands" with dual flute/organ intro/interludes.
Then our men headed over to the neighbor parish (we comprise 4 parishes now) and Wendy directed the women's ensemble, which we do on the fourth calendar Sunday of each month. We also paid homage to the Marian month with a lovely little song by Timothy R. Smith , "O Mother of Jesus," which I arranged for SSA voicing. And at both morning Masses, the secular holiday prompted us to sing "Mine eyes have seen..." after the dismissal.
Among the many compliments and comments heard since we started this rotation, Wendy provided me with the warmest observation. When the women lead (obviously in the upper octave) the men of the congregation can be clearly heard singing well! Bravo men of the parish. The pastor remarked upon that after Communion prayer, and then thought out loud "Now....a CHILDREN'S CHOIR!" Uh, Monsignor....
Speaking of men, we go over to the smaller parish. We generally sound pretty much like monks. But Sunday my lead tenor, a young man who's been with me since '91 and finishing his BA in voice, decided to check us out. So, we had our local version of the THREE TENORS up in the loft. It's not that we sing operatically, we don't. It's just that there's a unique humour present when so much testosterone is powerfully evident in the singing. We still chanted and sang primarily hymns; but as we descended from the loft out into the morning light, there was this little semi-circle of congregants who were beaming at us. We don't rehearse the men's group, we just kind of show up. Prior to that, our organist (also one of the Three Tenors) was the primary "voice" leading the congregation. And the folks at the smaller parish really take great care with their liturgical duties. The acolytes are all adults in albs, who have been well-choreographed over many years prior to our parishes' amalgamation. And those of us from the Mother Church do not sing from our own loft, but in the choir transept. So it's really kind of cool to be in the loft once a month.
Have a blessed day and week folks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Click on the mural photo to see a larger image, my father is circled in white.

Memorial Day
My dad served in WWII and Korea with the USN. He enlisted at 17 in Cumberland County, North Carolina, I suspect because his oldest brother was an officer well onto his own way as a skipper on a diesel submarine. Dad was sent to the Pacific Theater on the U.S.S. Vincennes, which was torpedo'd and sunk by a Japanese sub. Dad couldn't swim and in the few times he told the tale, he claimed he ran on the water to a life raft. His youngest brother recently shared with me that though my dad survived, that disaster changed his "happy-go-lucky" personality for the remainder of his life. Ironically, dad's oldest brother's sub was within miles of the sinking Vincennes, and knew his sibling was on-board, but communications blockades, and the unimaginably long time it then took to route information prevented my uncle from knowing my dad's fate. Once he did know dad survived, re-united with him and (according to my other uncle) assessed my dad's dire mental and emotional state, took him under wing and down to Melbourne, Australia. My older uncle also got dad to accept re-assignment to submarines and put him under the tutelage and mentorship of another boy from the South, one Chief Bill Smith from Arkansas. They served the remainder of WWII and later Korea on the Flying Fish. Between wars and in dock in the SF/Oakland naval drydocks, somehow Bill Smith met and married my maternal aunt Andee. And in the process, here in Visalia those two introduced my dad to my mom. They married in 1949. I came along in '51 while dad was offshore near abouts the Korean peninsula. We (my mom and I) lived in those "half tin can" quonset huts on the outskirts of Visalia even though her father, my "Zampa," was a local Standard Oil executive.
A few years ago, Wendy and I having lived and raised the kids through college in Visalia, met a local artist and commissioned a number of original paintings that now grace our house. Glen Hill had, at the time, a very vibrant studio downtown. He was asked by a number of local veteran's groups to paint a mural representing the concept Tom Brokaw coined as "The Greatest Generation." After much civic wrangling, a locality was secured and Glen started acquiring subjects to fill out his concept. He asked me casually one day if I had any WWII era photos of family members. I mentioned that I did have a number of my dad. He asked permission to borrow copies. From that point, Glen and I lost track of each other.
Wendy and I were out driving aimlessly on a lark this morning. After a brief shopping stop, she said why don't we go out and look at the mural that Glen had, indeed completed a couple of years ago. We drove past the park between Visalia and Tulare, parked the car and took in the work. In the top row, center was a skinny sailor with his white cap jauntily pushed back so that his high forehead was in full glory. I said to Wendy, "That's him." Took the picture above, which I can't, at this point, expand for more clarity. But we got home, opened the photo album, and my dad's in Glen's mural after all!
My dad led a difficult life, even before having a ship sink underneath him and watching mates get dragged off by sharks etc., like the Indianapolis later on. Fortunately, his youngest brother has been able to fill in many blanks about my dad (who took his life in 1967) that proved he was the man I remember who wanted to make "it" on his own, despite numerous demons, imagined and chemical that dogged and stalked him his whole life.
So, Dad, I remember you as offering yourself among the men and women of "The Greatest Generation" on this Memorial Day. And the mural bearing your image alongside so many images of those defining years in our country's heritage will last in this, my hometown, long after I'm onto my own reward. Thank you, Dad.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Upfront apologies extended to you, I obviously can’t resist deconstructing my version of this season’s American Idol “competition.” But it is so rife with all of the juicy, cultural and societal bits that I’m almost bi-polar with both disappointment and glee. And I’m going to let what’s left of the Colorado River neurons course aimlessly through the grand, sediment-al (not sentiMENTAL) canyons of my brain.

If you’ve never watched or followed American Idol, none of this is going to make sense, and pat yourself heartily for not succumbing to its addictive, lethal charms over the years. With last year’s competition I reveled in its evolution that, somehow, by grace, two most worthy young voices and persons were hoisted upon America’s shoulders and there was no way the crass, the manipulative, the gnomes and gremlins with no lives and oodles of cellular minutes to spare could NOT elect a proper winner. Last year the two David’s were so gifted and charming that the mirages of Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia et al had wafted away by the final 12.

This year’s start actually renewed the willies within me, even when I began viewing once they got to the Kodak stage, somewhere around 16 or so in number. I thought the field weaker than last year, but as I am by nature faithful once converted (I admit four reality vices: Idol, Survivor (the first), So You Think You Can Dance (the best) and The Amazing Race (the most compelling) I persevered. Then one evening, as it happened “Country Music Night” (Oh Joy!) the creature known as “Adam Lambert” took the iconic Johnny Cash “Ring of Fire” ballad down the Rabbit Hole, into a Hawking conceived worm-hole and dangerously, ironically weirdly into one of Dante’s levels of flame-dom with a Eno cum Shankar cum Robert Plant cum Fee Waybill and the Tubes rendition that made this misanthropic face gape longer than any on Easter Island. Oh, Lord, what is this alien force that both camps the glam and mocks it simultaneously that I should crumble to my knees (not actually, they’re both busted real good) and say, move over Frank, Elvis and Jacko, we’ve found the last of the busts for rock’s Rushmore and he’s already planted the nitro overnight while the world slept.

Even Simon could not immediately comprehend this alien and its force. The smarmy “What WAS that???” was the best his smug Parliamentarian accent could muster after “Ring of Fire.” But not for long would Simon not sez anything but “We’re not worthy” to ADAM , MAN.
And equally not long would the drudgery that is the bedbug haven of webdom idiota to post tattletale images of Mr. Lambert bussing another person apparently of the same gender. But the long and winding road, and blowhard, bloated machine that all such shows take and are, would continue. Each week, it became more (and eventually universally) evident that Lambert was not on the same planet as the numbers of idols fell. If one looks retrospectively for an oracle of things to come, the early departure of Allison Iraheta (also clearly of Adam’s ilk and they, the closest of allies) betrayed the fickle, reactive and obstinate nature that is the American public. (Haven’t we always been as naughty in equal measure to nice from the start? Ben Franklin, John Adams….you do the math.) But, none of that deterred Lambert, Kris Allen or Danny Gokey as the worthy trinity in their respective quests. But as sure as smoky Gokey’s soulful voice withered, nee, strike that, shrieked like some Lady McBeth harridan raven at the end of Arrowsmith cum Tyler’s “Dream On,” Lambert unflinchingly chose Led Zepplin’s colossal “Whole Lotta Love,” then proceeded without shame or malice-of-forethought to sing it light years better than……..FREAKING ROBERT PLANT!
After that, the cognoscenti among our little catholic school faculty sided up, you either accept Adam Lambert as the Chosen One (criminy sakes, more convincingly than Obama!) or you just loved that precious smile of Kris Allen, who should have been born a generation earlier to have given Johnny Depp a run on “21 Jump Street.” Except that the same scurrilous media homers floated Kris, the underdog, Kris the family guy, Kris the lighthouse for youth (unless you live in Lambertland), and finally Kris, the, ahem, Christian.

In any case, the hype in the wormhole moved faster than scheit through Star Trek Scotty’s goose on a good day until Tuesday’s final showdown. Subtlety, thankfully, took the night off. Adam, in his first two numbers chosen respectively and wisely by himself and producer Simon Fuller, nailed the 96 Theses and then thanked the Pope on top of it. Kris countered with that sort of Applebees, TGIF, Olive Garden “It’s all good” post-racial, it’s okay for a white guy to croon Sam Cooke and, geez Margie, Marvin Gaye's "What's goin' on." Yeah, what, indeed is goin' on and up widdat?
Why Simon yielded either of the first two “rounds” to Kris seemed as disingenuous as the praise that Randy and Paula tried to muster up for Kris’ artistry; and as lukewarm and icky as that “who the sam hill is she again?” Di Guardio woman and her epic “tune” that the guys were obliged to spew as the de rigueur anticlimactic finale. If Bikini women had joined them while singing that Tom Conry-esque tongue-twister one note samba, that might have made it palatable to the 14 year old male post-pubescent demographic.
I don’t give a rodent’s tuchis about the judges’ anointing of Lambert on Tuesday. The outcome, though still in play and in jeopardy, was moot in any case.

The coup de grace was yet to come on the show’s crowning night; last night. I’ll be brief (yeah, right!) Adam Lambert put out the dog, put on the Prince, wallowed in the metal slop of not only KISS (and unto Gene Simmons and his Red-Dye #9tongue getting schooled in the art of the true metal tenor) and QUEEN (which made either Satan or God pause for a second to bask in the smile of Freddy Mercury muttering, “My son, my son!”) without even breaking a sweat or seam in his leather breeches! I was thinking how great it was not to be Kris Allen during the singing of “We are the champions.” But the cute devil does have poise.

And apparently integrity and true humility. For when, at the merciful advent of the envelope, please, Seacrest formed the fricative “K” and Kris’s mouth opened agape (ooh, I didn’t even mean that to happen, really!), his astonishment seemed real, like “gettouttahereyagottabekiddinmeyajerkya.” But he did say something like “No, Adam deserves this.” Nice kid. But he was right. Not on the same stage, planet, universe.
But, like a good, homegrown hero caught unawares, he moved gracefully into “Aw shucks and thanks” and, of course, Adam was right there with the perfect smile and real man hug for a real friend. And that, is the way of the world in Idol Land.

The sweet little post-script moment before the credits showed Allison and Adam cuddling like two little innocent children that are drawn to each other simply because their magnets and tuning forks resonate at the same frequency. They just were happy to have been there, so it appeared.
Does any of this have an iota’s worth of relevance to Liturgical or Sacred Music. Maybe, if one wants to invent corollaries or metaphors having to do with issues of “authenticity….aesthetics……popularity……vox populi……or COMMERCE.” (Pink Floyd’s “Money” just flashed by followed by an eye chart of letters: O....C....P.....g.....i....a....w....l....p....
But, like I said, this is my autopsy table in my CSI in my Court of Appeals in the metropolis that is the capital of the planet of my body among the billions and billions of bodies celestial……..O pigeon droppings, I’m going Sagan again.

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Man's Man

Wendy and I were returning from our first visit to D.C. after a cross-country Amtrak trek through pre-Katrina N.O. (by one month) and ATL, and a year before my second visit to D.C. for CMAA Colloquiam 07. Because I'm, ahem, hefty, we flew (and always try to fly) First Class. So, leaving ATL, somehow I found myself directly opposite Herbie Hancock and a seat ahead of Jack Kemp.
Jack Kemp was known to me way before Herbie; one has to remember I was at the first Oakland Raider football contest ever played, and never missed a home game in Oakland ever. Jack Kemp kicked Oakland booty on a regular basis.
I first met Herbie Hancock in college via the jazz lab band I was in for four years mentioned last post. It was great, just after "Maiden Voyage."
While in ATL before going to D.C. I had found in a little bookshop a tiny tome I'd read about: ON BULLSHIT. It was written by some Harvard prof in perfect academic manner as, I suppose, a clever exercise in satire. I had to have it.
So, back to the plane.
Needless to say as deftly as I could, I struck up a just-the-right-length conversation with Herbie about "the state of the art." He related information about the album he was doing with various artists, a kind of legacy thing. I couldn't get over his enthusiasm about Christina Aguilera. Once I got the album for Wendy, I listened, I knew Herbie, like one of his mentors, Quincy Jones, knew exactly what-the-hell he was talking about.
Anyway, it came to me that with these two men, (I, then a Republican, who'd voted more for Kemp than Dole; Kemp is/was a big-tent GOP guy and had real cred with African-American leaders because of his proven record in the AFL/NFL), might just autograph my little book (ON BULLSHIT) if I vowed to them never to profit from their participation. And I won't. It will go with me, my freeze-dried cat, and Larivee guitar into my coffin.
So, Herbie left a brief, perfunctory message. But Jack Kemp, an oratorical soul after my own verbacious self, left the following.
R.I.P. Jack Kemp, Quarterback in this earthly life. I know you always knew that both your earthly coaches and your heavenly boss not only called the plays; but had the game plan well in hand. If you want to enlarge the image, just click it.

1 comment:

My Long and Winding Road
Always Runs Through Oaktown

Looking at the last forty years through the sound spectrum of the Order of Music for the Installation Mass of Bishop Cordelione, recently appointed shepherd of my adopted hometown of Oakland, California.

I came to practicing Catholicism through the “employee’s entrance.” In early 1970 a trumpet player-friend at college approached with a job proposal. We’d become buddies in the lab jazz bad and The Catholic Cathedral had a need for a bass player proficient on both string and electric basses, and skilled in every conceivable style of music. They had, under the direction of Rev. E. Don Osuna, the “hippy” version of what’d now be called a Praise Team Band that accompanied choral and congregational singing alongside of a very accomplished traditional choir (under John McDonnell) that was maintained with aplomb as, seemingly others were crumbling because of the presumed paradigm shift of the immediate post-Conciliar towards “folk music.”
St. Francis de Sales Cathedral was ground zero, no matter how one looks at it in retrospect, for musical innovations that functioned clearly within an obvious framework that I, an un-churched, free-thinking music major knew was a solid superstructure before I ever heard the word “liturgy.”

Ironically, I grew up most of my childhood life living next to the convent housing the sisters teaching at the Catholic school next to the convent, which was adjacent to the rectory of St. Leo the Great Church in the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood. All my friends were Irish-Catholic kids, most of whose dads were laborers in the Catholic Cemetery of St. Mary’s two blocks away. I might have gone to one pre-VII wedding Mass of one of my friend’s sister, but “Catholic,” to me, meant CYA basketball, asphalt football in the playground of the school, and at one poignant time- a foreign-born priest from the rectory who rushed to my house one night because of the ambulance, fire engine, cop cars’ lights blaring, to give last rights to my alcoholic dad, a definitely NOT CATHOLIC southern boy who’d decided to take his own life that night. That happened mid-way through my sophomore year in high school.

So about three years later, I’m a paid bass player (steady gig, steady gig) at this beautiful Gothic Church on San Pablo Avenue opposite the Greyhound Station, playing two Masses or more a weekend. In one Mass, worshippers would sing or hear a mix of “When the Saints Go Marchin’,” Kurt Kaiser’s “Pass it on,” Temple’s “Prayer of St. Francis,” Brahms’ “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place,” the UFW anthem “De Colores” and “When I’m Sixty-four” by Lennon/McCartney. And I remember some beautiful Mass settings by local composers besides Osuna such as John Probst’s “Lamb of God.” Sure, “Sounds of Silence” and Miles Davis’ “All Blues” might make an appearance now and then. Yes, way beyond orthodox without question! But it was invigorating, vitalizing, inviting. And I accepted that invitation. After about three plus years or so and graduating from college, I ventured out on my own as a choir director in a suburban parish and discovered the “other” world of Catholic liturgy- the world that was guided by newsprint missalettes ( I had never seen one at St. Francis de Sales.) I then have been on the learning curve ever since that shift with a handful of parish and cathedral assignments over these four decades. But before leaving the Oakland Diocese in 1987, new faces and sounds, both from local and faraway sources became part of my lexicon and musical muscle memory. From Oakland came Jeff Keyes and his two groups while he was at St. Leander's. We joined forces for sacred “concerts” on many occasions, debuted his and my music (through Resource Publications) at early NPM’s; Rufino Zaragoza, OFM was just starting to get noticed, along with a young Jesse Manibusan. Nationally, of course, it was St. Louis Jesuit Time, with the Dameans and Weston Priory as pretenders to the throne. Soon to come were the Minnesotans, and we know the rest of that story.

As the last century waned and we moved into this century, old and new friends still in Oakland would give me brief glimpses of the ever-burgeoning centrality of “multiculturalism” that is still a hallmark of this diocese’s liturgical life. One could find three-hour Masses in an authentic African-American Gospel mode; one could find full-on Filipino and Polynesian Masses spread from Rodeo at the north end of the diocese to Union City in the south. Then SE Asian influences joined the ever-present Latino musical flavors. And so forth. Composers such as JaNet Sullivan-Whitaker and Manibusan spearheaded a yearly celebration of that Korean Hot Pot of musics.

This “culture” evolved under the watch of Bishops Begin and Cummins, and did not avoid the increasing scrutiny and criticisms from within and without as both musicians, liturgists and other voices began to question whether the amalgam of what was contemporary American Catholic worship practice represented in any way the authentic seed crafted and grafted by the actual liturgical canons in the actual documents promulgated by the magisteriums after the council.

When Bishop Cummins retired and Bsp. Vigneron came to town, it was no secret that his voice and heart spoke alongside those of others like Francis Mannion, Thomas Day, the Snowbirds and certainly the William Mahrts and Helen Hull Hitchcocks. But no bishop, save for Bsp. Bruskewitz (what a great name!), barrel rolls into his new diocese and lobs political broadsides indiscriminately. And face it, who thought that Bsp. Vigneron (who earned my eternal respect at a USCCB conference a couple of winters ago for trying to get the bishops to understand the difference between the words “Propers” and “Ordinary.”) was in Oakland for the long haul. He was, in baseball terms, a lead-off, set-up guy for the Cleanup Batter, the Episcopal equivalent of St. Louis’ Burke, oops, I mean Albert Pulhols. And I suspect that Oakland’s new pastor is, in more ways than one, a clean-up power.

What will be interesting to watch, in my estimation, is the dynamic tension that has culminated with the completion of the Cathedral of Christ our Light, the search and appointment of its Director of Music, the installation of this particular bishop (whose liturgical sensibilities were deftly demonstrated by his presiding in Latin at Ordinary Form Masses in San Diego) and the bastion of multiculturalism and “tolerance” that the Bay Area prides itself upon.

In his installation homily, Bishop Cordelione remarked: “Like countless others, (my Sicilian, immigrant grandparents) labored under the hardship of immigrants – a new land, with a different language and different customs, struggling to be accepted and to fit in. Yet, somehow they found a welcome, and were able to make a better life for themselves… It seems our nation has become a much less welcoming place, even, sometimes, downright inhospitable….

Before writing this post, I tried contacting some of my Oakland friends to see if they’d been present at the installation and could provide their perspective, but I haven’t heard from them. So, I’m left with retrospection based upon the concrete reality of the Order of Music for the good bishop’s installation Mass, as the mechanism to speculate what might be the liturgical theses this pastor will imprint upon his administration, clerical colleagues and the faithful. More or less, this lineup is both subtle and blatant at the same time.

The LineUp, with my comments:

Preludes and Music for Procession of Clergy- not listed
“Liturgical Procession”- O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST Despite some nebulous memory pin-balling around in my brain about the Protestant Orange Armies singing St. Anne as they slaughtered Irish Catholics in times of yore, this stoic text and hymn clearly sings of a notion Mark Searle used years ago, “remember into the future,” only not as Searle envisioned it, but as a harbinger that our liturgical tendons to the past are not torn forever, but will be exercised, exorcized of any disease, and re-integrated with conservatism based upon the reform of the reform movement.
“Acclamation of Acceptance” SPIRIT OF GOD Lucien Deiss I thought this a loving nod to a liturgical giant in his era (and a lovely man, personally) whose renown never reached Gelineau status.
No mention of Penitential Rite or music.
Gloria in excelsis: Missa de Angelis Can you say “Pride of Place?
Ps. 87, setting by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes CPPS, St,. Edward’s Newark, CA Can we say “go CMAA!”
Gospel Accl. “Allleluia” Jacques Berthier
General Intercessory response: Rv. E. Donald Osuna (ret.) Another loving nod to the local hero.
Offertory: The King of Love, My Shepherd Is (Borther James’ Air) I hear Fr. Rutler smiling.
Eucharistic Acclamations: Community Mass (R. Proulx) What’s good for Dolan…..
Agnus Dei – M. VIII chant
Communion Motet: O TASTE AND SEE (R. Vaughan-Williams) Anglo/Catholic redux that seques to…
Communion Hymn: TAKE AND EAT (Rv. J. M. Joncas) a nod to a real and validated American composer who has known suffering much greater than the terrors of the night or the arrows that fly by day, and done so through scholarship and with dignity throughout his entire career. I’m proud to have sat at his feet in the Spring of ’79 at the Chicago NPM when he premiered the both beloved and maligned OEW.
Adoro te devote (plainsong)- yes, Virginia, Eucharistic Adoration in Latin is real.
“Sending Forth” (Sending Forth?” How’d that one get by the bishop’s eye?) YE WATCHERS AND YE HOLY ONES Yes, by all means, keep watch, ye saints in Oakland, we’re not waltzing out to “We are called.” We’re not marching out via “Siyahamba.” We’re not clapping out with “Alabare.”

Please, if you’ve (again) gotten this far, don’t make the mistake that I’m making any conclusions or prognostications here about Oakland’s liturgical future. Nor am I suggesting that the bishop’s introductory remarks (short and out of context quoted above) stand in any contrast to his assessment of what constitutes “hospitality” versus “inhospitality.” But I do think that much will be gained by watching what happens liturgically at Christ our Light Cathedral over the next few years, and whether through influence or attrition, the philosophy of what constitutes “universality” in a diverse demographic is turned on its head in my old hometown.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Ignore this post, at your peril; and mine as well most likely.

I'm tired.
I'm at a loss to know whether nearly 40 years of efforting to help others praise the Lord God through the miraculous gift of music has simply left me bewildered among a swamp of an exponentially burgeoning atmosphere of indifference, repugnant stasis, and, worst of all, a sort of Piaget curve self-regard that whispers, ala Larry the Cable Guy, "You're done." The swamp, of course, is the people- as in "the work of THE PEOPLE." One caveat, "the people" I speak of are not those who, with me, choose to hone our craft and art week in, year out. As I discover more and more about discipline and discipleship, they endure and work like the postman of yore- neither rain, sleet, hail or snow shall deter us from our cause.
But, where else are the other "true believers," the zealots, the die-hards, the "once more into the breach" folk who know enough and care enough to say to anyone who will listen: "This is Mass, but as worship?"- we offer unto the Lord half-hearts, hedged bets, lukewarm, rote and dazed, eyes-glazed packaged response to the Cosmic Lord's Supper.
In the temple at twelve, in the desert at 30, in Gethsemene at 33, and finally on the cross, Emmanuel risked everything to stay the course as both man and God, knowing that death was an inevitable outcome, but one that had to be freely chosen.
And the best we can muster is half or less of any given congregation singing the words He sang and spoke: "Amen.....Hosanna.....Alleluia."
A church spilling over, SRO, at a Confirmation that wantonly chatters incessantly and who likely bristles with self-righteous indignation should anyone chastise such blatant disresepct with even a charitable reminder that they're already in His Living Presence before the shindig, I mean, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, actually goes on the clock! True worshippers seem to be the interlopers, the inconvenient souls whose quiet presence and demeanor can no longer prove an effective witness to others of the "faithful" to "be still and know I AM."
OTOH, one of our vicars relayed an encounter with a 6/7 year old first communicant yesterday wherein the little boy could not help himself from keeping his hand raised while the priest was spinning out his homily. Finally, the vicar acknowledged the boy's hand, and provided him the opportunity to ask his burning question, which was "Father, how can we become more like God?"
Keep raising your hand, Kid, never stop asking, never stop trying to discover what that question means and how God will answer it for you throughout your life. As Father told him, "Don't grow up, son."
Still tired I am. Tired of many tyrannies that I can't enumerate: tired of time signatures; tired of satisfying so many folks' tastes in order to justify (to whom? Me?) the programming of chanted Propers and Ordinaries or what the Holy Father would deem "Real Beauty."
My ax doesn't fall upon "Eagles' Wings" necessarily. But, if some of "the people" would yield just a small wall of their comfort zones and conventional wisdom, they could actually experience soaring and gliding as if part of those wings, would they accept and move within the vehicle of chanted prayer.
And Excellency, Reverend Fathers, even less than diligent deacons- People look East, the time is near....then we can rightly crown the year.
And then be transfigured each Lord's Day, be in the fullest Communion in every human expression.
I want to not be tired anymore.