Monday, April 9, 2007

The More Things Change...

I've been a consistent critic of "Christian Rock" since growing up in an environment rife with it in '90's Southwest Missouri. My problem has always been that since it is about religion first and the music second, the music is almost by default second-rate. I wouldn't want to go to church and listen to a professional musician do the sermon (although a funeral presided over by Keith Richards would be fun), so why would I want to go to a show and listen to a minister try to play rock music.

Perhaps the problem is that so many churches deem all other rock music to be evil, and consequently these young bands haven't heard enough good music from which to build. Or maybe the bands just can't shake the guilty thoughts that their own music might be riding the line, and they may be playing their way to hell.

At any rate, this weekend I read an essay by George Bernard Shaw called "Solemnity and Triviality." The entire essay is best summed up by this quote:

My sole object in submitting to the unspeakable boredom of listening to St. Paul on Saturday afternoon was to gain an opening for an assault on the waste of our artistic resources -- slender enough, in all conscience, even with the strictest economy -- caused in England every year by the performance and publication of sham religious works called oratorios. In so far as these are not dull imitations of Handel, they are unstaged operettas on scriptural themes, written in a style in which solemnity and triviality are blended in the the right proportions for boring an atheist out of his senses or shocking a sincerely religious person into utter repudiation of any possible union between art and religion.

Perhaps it is depressing that 117 years later things are pretty much the same. I would prefer to consider it as a comfort, however. People aren't better and they aren't worse. They are just people, and that takes a lot of the mystery out of it.


Dan said...

I know this is a bit afield from your chosen topic, but do you think mankind has improved? Slavery no longer is a staple of international trade. Women are no longer chattels in most of the world. Yet, I hold no illusions that individual men are as debased as ever - the corporations and their CEOs would gladly embrace slavery again, and while spousal abuse is socially unacceptable, it is a fact of many individual lives.

Jim said...

I'm not sure. I suspect the changes in our circumstances as a species have helped us to adopt more of our better inclinations and discard some of our more despicable ones. I don't think our capacity to inflict horror upon one another has diminshed, however. There are instances everyday that prove that.

I think it says something significant about mankind that we have recognized many of our collective weaknesses and worked to put up safeguards against them. An equally significant statement is that we need those safeguards in the first place.


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