Monday, June 3, 2013

Is Inculturation an Excuse for Pop Music at Mass?

Here is my new piece at CRISIS
Pop music, even when the text is Christian in its intent, is transient in two fundamental ways.

First, the music itself comes and goes like fashion. This is what it is supposed to do. This is its character. Everyone in the pop world is interested in the new hit whereas hits from the past that last are relegated to the oldies status. Perhaps only a few make it more than a decade. Just think of any performance act that features music of the 1970s. There is a good chance that you could name 3 or 4 of the hits that would necessarily be included.

Second—and this is so obvious that it hardly needs to be pointed out but I will do it anyway—youth itself is transient. The young get old, new groups of young replace them, and so on. And people always grow up and look back and ask, “What was I thinking?”

This pattern has repeated since, oh, the beginning of time. But it is especially true in our time when no real responsibilities are expected of young people. They don’t have to provide for themselves. They have no meaningful work to do unless it is created for them. They sit at desks most of the day, hang out mostly with their peers, and are not responsible to adults in a way that is integral to their daily life activities.

So yes, many young people today might imagine that they occupy a sub-culture of their own, something self-sustaining and insulated from the rest of the world. That such impressions exist at all is living proof that adults in our world have not done their job to prepare young people for life. So it’s no wonder that we see so many post-college meltdowns among those who have never actually encountered an authentic adult world before and cannot navigate it or even understand it.

The question is whether this sub-culture has any relevance whatsoever for the important choices we make concerning music at liturgy. The answer, I believe, is that it does not.

Read the whole thing