Monday, January 27, 2014

Roll Over Beethoven

Dear Parishioners,

It’s no secret that I like music.  I have been exposed to a very eclectic assortment of music and songs from the time I was a child.  From listening to polkas, to Broadway musicals, to rock, to pop, to country, to classical, to easy listening, to various religious hymns, I have enjoyed a rather diverse mix of music at varying times in my life.

And so, this past Sunday--in a moment of weakness or temporary insanity--I turned on the 56th Annual Grammy Awards to see what is happening in the music world.

Where do I begin?

Ludwig van Beethoven has to be rolling over in his grave.  Or rather, he’s probably doing somersaults and flips after watching Pink’s athletic prowess as she twisted and twirled suspended high above the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  If she ever gives up singing, she’s a shoo-in for a position in the next Cirque du Soleil production.

Some performers were entertaining, some truly bizarre, some scary, and some on the fringe of lunacy.  Was there much musical talent—enough to receive an award?  What is it they say about beauty being in the eye of the beholder?  Is there such a thing as temporary blindness (as there is temporary insanity)?  While I realize that so many of these artists have the vocal ability and the deftness (a la "Deft" Punk) to play instruments beyond the average human, the over-all content of what they choose to write or perform never ceases to disturb me.

Let’s begin with pop star Katy Perry’s Dark Horse presentation.  Dressed as a witch, being burned by fire while clutching a broomstick that resembled something a pole-dancer from a strip club might be gyrating around, she looked simply satanic.  The goats in the background, the cross on her clothing, the red and black colors, the fire, and the pouring of sand around her, all have varying ties to witchcraft and/or satanic rituals.  Katy enjoys pushing buttons.  From kissing other girls and liking it to wearing cupcake tops on her breasts, this should come as no surprise to anyone who follows her music career.

Take the time to examine the uncensored lyrics of a popular song like Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (particularly verse 3) or just try to decipher the meaning of rapper Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d City.”  His portion of a song could not be aired without a continual censoring from the network. I actually thought that something was wrong with the audio programming until I realized every other word was being bleeped.  And can’t you just imagine the profound meaning behind Record of the Year winner Daft Punk’s (We’re Up All Night to) Get Lucky?  So far, so nauseating.

The culmination of it all was the actual wedding ceremony of both gay and straight couples by Queen Latifah performed during the song Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.  It reminded me of something the Moonies (members of the Unification Church who were followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon) used to do when I was growing up—minus, of course, the same-sex couples.

I didn’t happen to see pop stars Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or One Direction present during the evening’s festivities.  With or without this award ceremony, I guess they were busy doing something else more important, perhaps twerking their millions right to the bank.

Through it all, I thought about Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin all rolling over in their graves.  I thought about the choirs of angels making their heavenly music before the throne of God.  And I thought about the lyrics from an old Don McLean song.  I don’t know if it was the day the music died this past Sunday, but I think that some of today's "music" may be barely on life support.

Fr. Ed Namiotka



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When the Entire World is Upside Down

Dear Parishioners,

I know that Jesus would use a type of hyperbolean intentional exaggeration for effect—at various times in the Gospels.  Did he really want us literally to tear our eyes out and throw them away (see Mt. 5:29) or to cut our hands off and throw them away (see Mt. 5:30) as stated in the Sacred Scriptures?  I don’t think so.  He most likely said things in this manner to wake people up and have them pay attention to what he had to say.  He needed people to recognize his legitimate authority.

Much was the same with Jesus’ miracles.  His miracles were often meant to attract people to His message and to show His true authority:  “’But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth’–he said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.’” (Mk. 2:10-11)  I suppose in Jesus’ time, just as in ours, people wondered who to listen to, who is telling the truth and what authority is legitimate.  Many people, then and now, have various things to say, but they certainly don’t all carry the same weight.  My utmost attention goes to the Son of God—hands down!

In today’s conversations we too may say some things emphatically to get a point across:  “That weighs a ton!” “I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse!” and “I’ve told you a million times already!”

I guess that there are times when our current culture has become so de-sensitized or may even have become so calloused to current societal issues that we may need to say something in an unusual or extreme manner to get people’s attention once again.  Society nowadays is also so careful to be PC (i.e., politically correct) on almost every matter for fear of offending someone.

So how do we make people realize that the breakup of the traditional family is tragic for society, how abortion has killed more than 55 million people (in the USA alone) since Rove v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, how co-habitation outside of marriage can have detrimental effects on relationships, how homosexual sexual acts are always sterile and empty acts, and how our addiction-prone society (alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, shopping, etc.) can destroy moral character and ultimately lead to self-destruction, just to name a few contemporary societal concerns?

What do I say or do to make people pay attention?

Perhaps I need to quote Jesus again:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. (Mt. 7: 13-14)

Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. (Mt. 24: 42-44)

But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Lk. 18:8)

I often wonder just who is listening to Him?

I express my frustration like this:  The entire world is upside down!  

And, in my humble opinion, it seems to be no exaggeration!

(I pray I'm wrong.)

Fr Ed Namiotka