– St. Vladmir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary requires applicants to their M.Div program to undergo a music proficiency exam for choir placement. On the one hand, I would have been horrified if I had to undergo something like that to get into my program. But on the other hand, hands-on involvement in liturgical music seems like a nice way to round out a theological education. A good prayer life is essential for priests and lay theologians, but it seems to me that a sensitivity to the beautiful and the sublime is also a valuable asset. Us Catholics have dropped the ball in that regard: in a Church which has produced Dante, Palestrina and Michelangelo, we have in recent decades churned out a lot of bland hymns, ugly modernist architecture and art, etc.
I’m guessing that seminarians being instructed in the Tridentine Mass are taught how to sing in Latin. But I wonder what it would be like if all students/seminarians had to spend time warbling some Gregorian Chant.
– I’ve been reading bits of Matthew Scully’s animal welfare book Dominion on the side. Scully seems to be something of a statistical outlier in being both deeply conservative and a vegan. While I don’t share the man’s veganism, the questions he raises about our modern relationship to animals are worth pondering over. It’s a disturbing book.
– On that note, the older I get, the more I get annoyed by the increasing tendency to view so many of these issues in terms of Left/Right. Half a century ago, the contraception mandate troubling Catholic organizations in the US would have likely been seen as a religious freedoms issue by both the right and the left. Not anymore! Some things are too important to be left to the stupidity of partisan politics.
– I’ve been interested lately in trying to understand the theological/ecclesial differences between the East and the West. So much of my thinking has been solely in terms of Protestant vs Catholic.
One of the things which attracted me to the Roman Catholic Church in the first place was how it seemed to have the right degree of both rationalism (in the non-ideological sense) and mysticism – I have always liked the idea of faith perfecting reason. Whereas while some of the ideas in, say, Eastern Orthodoxy strike me as very evocative, the philosopher in me finds them too obscurantist.