Thursday, October 30, 2003

Peace, all. Snapshots in ministry ... I had a nice exchange with one of our older parishioners today. Delightful lady. She patted my arm as she gave her approval to married lay people working for the Church. She commented it would be good if priests were allowed to marry. I nodded. Then she added, "But I'm still traditional in lots of things. I can't get used to women on the altar. They don't belong there." Sunday children's choir take two this weekend. They've never had one in this parish. Of course, there is a very good music program in the school: two teachers plus a band instructor. But as is true for most American parish schools, sport is King. Actually, I'm getting socked by the scouts, not soccer this weekend: eight fourth grade girls going camping. Sheesh, that's about 2/5ths of my group. If I had known, I would have had the kids sing next week instead. It would have given me an extra rehearsal. In the middle of rehearsal yesterday, one of the girls teared up. What was it? My gory description of how some saints got martyred? Nope. (They did ask me how Kateri Tekakwitha and others died.) A sudden memory of something scary. We put our fists together with some of the girl's friends and prayed the power of Christ would replace fear and tears with courage. Of course, the event of six or so third graders all pushing their fists together got the giggles going again. I had heard through the grapevine that a few parishioners are grumbling about the new choir. "Why do we need another thing for kids? Let them do it in the school, where that kind of thing belongs." *Sigh* It's a good parish, but it has so far to go.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Peace, all. Hope that it's not cloudy in your area tonight. The solar flare means that people deep into the southern US might catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. I've seen it twice in my life. Once when I was a kid I tried to confirm I was actually seeing it the night of our parish festival. I left the parish parking lot only to have four guys attempt to mug me. Couldn't believe they were trying to interrupt my viewing. I began lecturing them on high energy particles entering earth's atmosphere and they left me alone. The triumph of science. Eight or nine years ago, my friend Chris and I were driving home from a Kalamazoo Wings game on Interstate 69. We couldn't believe we had reached Lansing already and were complaining about light pollution ruining good viewing. Then something shimmered. We were still 25 miles from home, actually and it wasn't car dealerships as we thought. It was .... "Auroraaaaaaaaaaa!" we yelled, and found a safe spot to pull over. We gawked at it for about ten minutes. Nobody passed us on the highway; they must all have been in their backyards watching the sight at home. Film buffs will appreciate Jenny Seagrove's explanation of it in Local Hero. Be sure to appreciate it yourself tonight.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Peace, all. Earlier today while I was cruising the bloghood, I ran across an opinion that struck me. A person whom I admire said he would not consider reading authors such as Rohr, Steinfels, or Chittister, whom he felt were dissenters. Leaving aside for the moment the issue of what constitutes dissent or disloyalty, I'd like to ask a few questions. Do we ever read outside our comfort zone? Would we invest time in reading someone with whom we disagreed? Personally, I find it refreshing to read the conservative Catholic viewpoint from time to time. (Maybe that's why I have lurked in blogdom for so long.) With a decent supply of antacid, I've even read Michael Rose and Thomas Day. And though I disagree strenuously with their opinions, I find it valuable to keep updated on the various positions that would be counter to my own. I've discussed many issues with friends and it seems clear they have never bothered to see matters from outside their own perspective. Even if dialogue is completely off the table, isn't it valuable from time to time to spy on one's adversaries, getting inside their heads, as it were? Or am I just crazy for being a progressive Catholic trying to get something out of George Weigel?

Monday, October 27, 2003

Peace, all. I have to admit I didn't blink when I saw the leaked "reports" of the Vatican's new liturgical document. Just too much to be believed, even in our current ecclesiastical climate. At the risk of getting sucked into a grand debate on girl altar servers, clapping, and Communion from the cup, I want to zero in on just liturgical dance, maybe leaving the rest for another day. Not being a dancer (my sister does that here: http://www.dance22.org) let me lay my cards on the table. I admire dance as an artform. Growing up with a dancer in the family (even a sister) engenders an appreciation for it. I have friends who are active in various folk dancing groups. I find group dancing most enjoyable and wholesome. And I don't have much bad to say about secular dancing ... but then again I don't frequent MTV's Bump and Grind events. I prefer ballroom dancing and jazz. What's least likely to come out of Rome is a ban on liturgical dancing. Not only is this not how Romans operate, but it would just be silly and ineffective. Just ask the pope's liturgist. I can imagine a restating of curial opinion that dance suggestive of the "profane" would not be appropriate for Mass. What then are the circumstances for an authentic expression of dance in the liturgy? 1. Dance should be regarded like music is. If the primary liturgical singer is the assembly, just connect the dancing dots from there. 2. Classical dance, like conservatory music, can be art for the skilled performers, and it usually is. I can envision some role for these in liturgy, but not a primary place. 3. I've seen solo (or group) dance performance done well. I've seen it done less well just for its own sake. Like music, a dance performance inserted for its own sake in the liturgy is a bad idea. And I see far more inappropriate performance music in liturgy than inappropriate dance. But this doesn't mean music must be banned. 4. Dance belongs in the liturgy, and the best people to determine this are in the parish. Such a determination needs to be made with sensitivity and a sense of ministry. People will occasionally fail to make good judgments in this regard. And poor experiences of liturgical dance may continue. But that is no reason to ban dance in churches. Thinking about music, it just doesn't follow. Better for all would be to encourage dancers and raise the bar on our expectations, applying it across the board to all art forms.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Peace, all. *splash* Perhaps it was the discussions I've read about the lack of progressive Catholic blogs. Anyway, here goes. Visit often. And don't forget to comment.

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