Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Loss of Culture

Bearing Blog has an insightful post about the sorrow of young people today for the loss of culture that has gone on around, and largely before our time. The conversation centers on her reading about a gorgeous church (interior pictured at right) that's up for sale in Rochester, New York.

I'm Catholic; I'm thirty-one. I'm angry that a whole generation before me threw all that splendor away, and wants me to say "Thank you" that I have guitar-strumming family masses instead. My generation of Catholics has only scattered scraps of Catholic culture, that we have to pull together into a crazy-quilt, something that we can hand down to our children. It's not clinging to the past when we ought to move forward; it's sorrowing that our inheritance was squandered. And it's not an alien experience here in America: what race's children hasn't sorrowed, at times, over what was lost when their parents were (by force or by choice) "assimilated"?"

I'm from her generation and I know what she means. For me, the frustrating thing isn't so much that everyone in the past is to blame, it's that some people (I've met people like this) made these changes (in liturgy, church design, etc.) because they thought "we" wanted it. What is it about modern young people (from the 80s, 90s or whatever) that makes them reject beauty? Why do people presume these things?

I'll never forget the 40-something liturgical director from our parish when I was sixteen (I was invited to participate in a hymnbook-choosing committee - as a representative of "young people" of the parish) insisting that we couldn't sing "traditional" hymns because it wasn't what the young people wanted. I'll be honest - I listened to rock and roll as much as the next person when I was a teen - but I liked the beautiful, traditional hymns better than the modern, boring, tuneless stuff they were cranking out (and continue to do so). One funny thing is that this liturgical director also insisted on taking all syncopation out of the modern church songs to make them "easier to sing". Hmm.

Have you ever noticed how even a "bad" church choir can sound pretty good singing a hymn like Beautiful Savior or Lift High the Cross?

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