Louder Fenn

Friday, April 26, 2002

Okay, Louder told me how to post a link: here is the latest on guitars from Bryan

And here is my last shot on the topic (Louder is right -- you just have to stop sometime, although it goes against my grain to ever shut up when arguing):

I thought Bryan had already gotten rough, but apparently the rogue comments about Catholicism weren't enough -- now he accuses me of being a lawyer! (Actually, I am, which I alluded to in one of my posts). I really have just a few things left to say; hopefully, they are less smart sounding and more substantive.

Frankly, I ignored your Romans post because it did not seem all that relevant to me. Romans 14, to my mind, is discussing judging that another is committing a sin by doing something that is not actually prohibited by God. That is not what I am doing. I never said that it is a sin nor could I care less if someone wants to play a hymn on his guitar or his kazoo (I believe that in my first post I positively commended the sanctification of everyday music). Nor have I ever said it is sinful even to do it in church.

Paul did not say that you cannot ever make distinctions about what is a better practice over another practice (he said celibacy is better than marriage but, hey, marriage is good, too, if you can't be celibate). So, I am making a judgment in the sense of saying X is better than Y, but I am not judging that Y is therefore a sin or that anyone doing Y is a sinner.

Again, if you really want to debate Catholic stuff, I can do that. But it is not fair to throw out multiple Catholic doctrines and Protestant objections that are generally irrelevant to the debate. You complain that I sound smart but have no substance and on top of it throw out willy-nilly objections to saints and so on. I tried to deflect these statements with a little levity, and lo and behold, you still come up with another one -- Church or Bible? I know I started the whole thing with the sewage comment, and I apologize if I offended. But I could have some complaints of my own about your debating technique . . .

Finally, it comes down to this, I think: not the Bible, not the merits of guitar music, but that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." You seem to deny that art is susceptible to even a little bit of objective judgment. I keep thinking I can sum it all up, but here is another attempt: I do not believe that churches should be splintered -- I believe that church should be unifying, on many levels -- therefore, I believe that we should seek the universal -- one of those universals is music. I do not claim that there is a Platonic "Church Music" which is eternally perfect for all ages and in all situations. But I think that we should try to cobble the best music we have. Just because there are disputes about what the best music is doesn't mean that we cannot find a tolerable consensus or should not try. (I am reminded of the ancient Greek philosopher, whose name escapes me, who believed that there was no truth because every "truth" was disputed by someone. He made the erroneous leap of judgment that because every proposition is disputed, then every proposition is disputable.)

Finally, you also seem to deny that there is any spirit inherent in music. The spirit of music may be less concrete than that in, say, the visual arts (a nice painting of a landscape vs. a Mapplethorpe photo), but it is there. Is it somber, joyful, despairing, etc., etc.? I believe music does have a spirit to it, and certainly not all spirits are appropriate for church (e.g., despairing music), therefore, not all music is appropriate for church.

-Jimmy Tomato

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