Wednesday, June 28, 2006

End of the line for 'I want to have a beer with Jesus' music?

Pope Benedict XVI comments on music in the Catholic Church (though I'll mention first that the "beer" comment was a separate reaction to the statements) - link here. I'm optimistic with the Melbourne Vicar-General's view that this shows a preference and focus and not a restriction. However, obviously the alchohol-based comment that followed that paragraph showed that people will sometimes read whatever they want to in other people's comments, papal or otherwise.

Of course, this would put the two Sister Act movies into disrepute, perhaps eventually joining the ranks of The Da Vinci Code? If so, I imagine Whoopi will be making some good extra bucks soon.

Some interesting points to note:

1. While the Pope's "infallibility" is often talked about, it should be noted that not all his comments are infallible, only the comments that are made "from the Chair of St Peter", which goes through a special ratification process.

2. It is true, however, that Gregorian Chant has a special place not only in church tradition, but in the tradition of music. I have mentioned this before but it's worth restating: For hundreds of years, the most important music - and its progression and musical development - was in the hands of the Church, which was its biggest patron. With the advent of the Protestant movement, music became a symbol of the two sides of this religion.

3. Outside of being used religiously, Gregorian Chant has in recent years made a revival for classical music enthusiasts, and seeing that contemporary music is slowly moving away from atonality and back to tonality, it is possible, likely even, that traditionalism may be also revived.

My own two cents is traditions are important, but not at the cost of relevance, or banning anything - music or otherwise. History has shown us that 1. the one thing that sells more than sensationalism is a ban on sensationalism, 2. sensationalism in music is often - though not always - a matter of personal taste, as well as public taste... and the latter often changes and mellows with time.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

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