Sherry writes, and I think accurately:
But a longing for the Traditional Mass is a very different thing from scornful derision aimed at millions of non Anglo,non-high culture Catholics who have no part in the culture wars and are just trying to worship and serve God to the best of their ability in their local parishes and families and communities.
Jeffrey, who is rightly concerned about preserving the church's patrimony and re-claiming the sacredness of the Mass as a time when we do things properly, with reverence and per the norms, writes of what he terms the "modal parish":
There are two or three people who can sing, no one has sung a note of chant. Most people are interested in chant but have no idea where to begin. Meanwhile, there is a hardcore that is fanatically attached to music of the 1970s and fears even the slightest hint of solemnity, warning darkly that the new priest is going to take the parish into a new Dark Age.
There are no liturgical materials available in the parish. The vessels are glass or pottery, everything else having been tossed out. So there is no monstrance, no patens, and the tabernacle is buried somewhere where it can't be seen. The available vestments are unworthy.
He comments to Sherry that:
Let me finally add: if you think chant doesn't belong in the Roman Rite, you are either misinformed about the liturgy or you are hoping for the creation of some other rite that doesn't yet exist.
I think that Sherry is not responding from any desire for a new rite, or from a dislike of tradition. Nowhere does she state that chant doesn't belong in the rite. Sherry is responding to what she perceives as putting down of parish life based on broad brush strokes.
And it is those broad generalities that I feel I must address, fearful as I am to appear to be insulting one musical form or another, one particular rite or another, or even one particular blogger or other.
I live in a world of epidemiology, where statistics and statistical accuracy are critical to any actions we opt to take from our data. Anything described as modal means that it is the (or "one of the" in the case of multi-modal distributions) most frequently encountered value in the sample or population. This means that this value is seen more often than any other for this variable, even if it isn't the mean. It is critical that we know if samples or populations are being described, and how the samples were selected.
If we create a list of Parish Liturgical Problems voiced by chant seminar attenders (non-random sample) then there could be several "modes" or most frequently appearing problems: improper vessels, ad-libbing prayers, unworthy vestments, ignorance of music which should be given pride of place in the liturgy, out of tune guitar Masses, etc. This approach certainly gives the liturgist or priest a guide to what to approach first to reclaim the sacredness of the liturgy.
These concerns may be modal for the non-random sample of priests who come to Mr. Tucker for training, but they are almost certainly not modal for the population of US parishes.
Mr. Tucker's post , whether or not he intended this to be so, isn't being read as a modal list of errors. It is being read as a modal list of the current state of things across the US. If you assembled a list of values from the population for any liturgical item (brass chalice, brass chalice, brass chalice, ceramic chalice, glass chalice, brass chalice, etc) or (paten paten, paten, paten, paten, no paten, paten, etc.) , few of the items appearing in what reads as a Jeremiad would rise to modal status.
And that's so important -- We should take care not to describe a population by the traits seen in only a sample being described by those dissatisfied with the status quo. Put another way, a list of chief complaints given by people presenting to the ER (unscientific sample) is important, but it does not describe the health of the entire community (population.) The chief complaints tell us how to plan health care and what needs to be done to improve health, but it does not tell us anything about those not presenting for care.
Sherry hears, and perhaps not without reason, "scornful derision" in what was written. This may not have been Mr,. Tucker's original plan, but it is certainly consonant with other opinions Mr. Tucker may have expressed previously. I hear Sherry giving her opinion, and making important points based on her own observations. Jeffrey states at "Charlotte was Both" that Sherry's points aren't valid, and states that he "addressed them at the blog in question." Dismissive language, even if not intentionally written to be so.
Not for nothing did I so often read at "Open Book" the comment: "Fearful as I am to jump into a discussion on music, I feel I must say....." before someone gave an opinion. We often aren't hearing what people are actually saying; we are hearing only how they might disagree with those things about which we are most passionate.
The blogosphere is, or should be, a place for exchanges of opinions, and discussion that can lead us to mutual areas of understanding. Mutual understanding can begin with clear understanding of the bases of our opinions and of our "stats."
Sherry loves the church that welcomed her in as a new converts. She wants us to stop arguing over liturgy. She's willing to accept variations in music if needed, so long as the Mass is valid. Jeffrey loves the Church and wants us to stop arguing over liturgy. He offers chant and sung Masses as options that don't rely on changing contemporary musical tastes.
I love the Church, and am willing to sit through a guitar Mass with an out-of-tune guitar, or a plodding pianist or even a choir of the few non-music readers who turned out, and will offer my sacrifice of praise as I prepare to meet Jesus. I'm also excited to be planning music for a heavily Latin wedding Mass this Christmas. Having been to Rome, and seen a wide variety of Masses there, I'm far more willing to say "when in Rome" here in the US, as well.
Long enough for now, and certainly not likely to change any minds or cool any emotions. I daresay the "modal" East Coast Catholic is right now (10:55 PM on a Monday) getting ready to watch the news and head for bed, rather than worrying about liturgy. I think I'll go join him.Lizzie