Department of Squeaky Wheels

Reader Adam passes this along in response to my Folk post. Do click the “Listen Now” button at left.

What is it about the Midwest? I haven’t dug too deeply yet, but the first impression is that this is a measured, non-hysterical, even thoughtful attempt to actually do some good.


  1. AnotherCoward says

    I agree, but at the same time … it seems to me that someone is missing the point. It could be me – I haven’t figured that part out yet – but I certainly am not seeing the point at this juncture.

    The song was lovely … just not culturally engaging. Theological and beautiful but absolutely in no way applicable beyond worship – and even then, I doubt that your average youth in the pew could really worship in that. Call me crazy, but I think you can be more holistic and culturally inclusive.

    While “We come to share our story” is somewhat hokey (I’m with you, inside I’m cringing), it speaks to people on a more personal level and is more accessible to them because it sounds like other music they are use to hearing. I can accept the argument that it’s theologically light, but I’m not sure that music need be theological heavy hitters, on the surface of it anyways (I always get reflective when we sing “We Are One Body” … okay, so I’m a sucker for a little campiness).

    Thankfully, “We come to share our story” is not all the music you get at Mass. But I’m not sure a Mass need be all like the hymn presented here. I’m more comfortable with the middle ground – a nice balance of both with respect to the culture of your parish.

  2. Matthew,

    I was, for several years, a parishioner at Assumption Grotto. It is a lovely place with amazing music, but I assure you it is anything but midwestern. It lies at the heart of burnt-out-and-burnt-up Detroit with the gangs all around (they are so open that they even hang signs! One sign reads “Hell’s Angels” another “Blue Devils”. It was scarry for us to make the trek out there every Sunday and we would have to gas up before going and drive AT LEAST an hour to find any place after mass that we would even consider eating at. We fondly remember our time there. But still remember the signs in front of the beauty salons “Real Human Yaki sold here.” Just what is human Yaki? I don’t want to know, but Assumption Grotto was like a secret doorway into heaven found in the midst of damnation.

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    It may not be midwestern in the sense of friendly, decent people living in human, even bucolic environs, but the project itself seems to fit a kind of stable yet thoughtful mindset regarding religion that I am slowly coming to associate with the Midwest. Finally, though, it’s just another prejudice – for every example I could cite, I imagine someone better informed could cite ten rebuttals. Still, it’s a harmless enough illusion for me to cherish, no?
    I think the argument runs that sacred music is supposed to be sacred – that is, set apart. So it needn’t be like everything else that a person hears. Yah, by all means, a pastor ought to respect the culture/character of his parish, but I think you could argue that not much respect was shown for a lot of existing culture when Glory and Praise was imposed as the One Great Musical Style. The site argues this point better than I, I think.

  4. AnotherCoward says

    Set apart, how? Set apart in its purpose or set apart in its use? I would defend the former and fight the latter. Music need not be only for the temple in order to be sacred, and if that piece of music is indicative of all that Nicholas-Maria is about, I simply disagree – not because I think they are wrong but because it feels to me like they are not whole.

    I’ll grant you though that sometimes the opposite occurs – what is found outside the temple is brought in. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be carefully discerned. There is certainly an argument that proper spiritual discernment has been lacking in decisions for liturgical music.

    What you and I see in the midwest particularly is a kind of counter-pendulum swing. The thing of it is, it appears to be such a big swing and so scholastic in its nature, that I fear it’s going too far. That’s why I’d rather advocate a middle ground, get there, and then decide whether we need to go further.

  5. Matthew,

    You may be on to something there. Perhaps the measured responses to liturgical/musical reform you think you might be seeing in the Midwest could be attributed to the Dutch and German farmer stock that settled there.

  6. I’m thinking that you can continue forever in a broad and grey circle what appears sacred and true. Music, words, poetry… it is all created by an individual, and most times changed by even more individuals.

    What is it about the Midwest? NOTHING!!! Nothing different than your own Town, City, State, from any other part of the world. Yes, dig deeper, it’s a big World.

    You just were listening to one squeaky wheel among billions.

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