Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Salve Regina: Variations on a Theme

Katrina "The Crescat" Fernandez was saying recently that “Catholicism is the punk rock of religions.” I'm sure she had a perfectly good explanation, but at the time I couldn't find one.

When Christ spoke to his disciples, he explained complex theological truths in the only language many of them could understand, that of their everyday experience; that is to say, in parables. Many of those engaged in apostolic work in the inner cities, and with troubled youth, attempt the same. Sister Act is a 1992 comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. In this scene, the lounge singer from Reno who is under Federal protective custody in a convent, demonstrates her attempt at "inculturation." Cue the troubled youth from the street, drawn like moths to a flame.

But wait, this gets better.

Not to be outdone, a German pop band Women in Rock gathered a chorus of students two years ago, to do their own version, of the same version, of the same hymn at Christuschurch in Bremerhaven. They could have brought it down a half or whole step and the effects of pubescent voice changes could have been kept to a minimum. You think?

Finally, the pièce de résistance. Admit it, you knew it would come to this.

Here we have a "Catholic punk rock metal" band from Vancouver, Washington, known as The Thirsting, with the official video of a selection from their latest album "Companions of the Lamb." Punk rock is supposed to be (CLICHÉ ALERT!) a rebellion against the system, but I'm not even sure this description completely applies to their work. They could be more accurately be described as "alternative/rap/rock." Or something. There's a bit more light and shade to some of their work, than one would find in your garden-variety punk bands.

Personally, one of my faves on the album -- I've been listening to it this week -- is the title track. The lyrics are not as cliché-ridden as one might expect, and some of the guitar work has that mid-90s Gin Blossoms thing going on, which in turn is inspired by the plugged-in-folk-rock of (tomorrow's "Guitar Workshop" guest) Roger McGuinn, though I think it could have been pushed a bit farther.

But hey, that's just me.

Is attempting to "reach the young people" through their own genre a good thing? That depends. Kids who reach adolescence, that transition from childhood to adulthood, are in the process, to paraphrase Saint Paul, of "putting childhood ways aside." Every generation gets older, and along with that, expands their interests as their world does the same. Our Lord started out with parables, but He did not stop there.

We should not expect our children to do so either, don't you think?

Or don't you?


Pro Ecclesia said...

Regarding the first example: A traditional Catholic hymn (with some Latin mixed in, to boot) sung by nuns in habit? Most parishes could (and, indeed, do) offer much worse by way of music.


Gail F said...

I loved "Sister Act" -- and that song -- when I first saw it. I must have been 24 at the time, and I had only heard that song once or twice before in my life. I saw a high school choir do it a couple of years ago and, like the choir/band you show, they made it quite clear that professionals sing a lot better! I like the "punk" version (although I wouldn't call it punk) and I don't see why anyone would have a problem with hymns as rock songs as long as they were not in church! The hard part is doing it without dumbing things down, or doing that wacky pseudo-earnest fake thing that is so common among various Protestant efforts to "reach young people" -- blech! Of course people should eventually develop more adult tastes, but so what? I still love my favorite children's books. But I've read "Moby Dick" twice too.

Ha ha -- the word verification word is "mater"!