Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is church really just psychotherapy?

Obviously, you all know my answer - negative. (Or, in French, the too-cute expression, “non, non, et non!”)

And yet, it really seems a lot of people treat it as precisely this. How often does the phrase “touch your heart” get thrown around? If people are made to feel a certain (positive) way, the general presumption seems to be that the institution is doing its job. People choose which church they attend (not just among Catholics) based on which one makes them feel best.

And since Klaus (like a good friend) reminds me that I need to be posting about music on a blog titled “Cantate Deo”, I think this extends, perhaps more than anything else, to music. I got some flak this past spring for not doing a particular “setting” of the Exodus canticle at Easter Vigil that the parish has been doing for several years - the big problem with it is that it only uses a small portion of the actual text. People were disappointed/upset that their “fun” music was not there.

Ok, so maybe that’s a tangential example - funeral music would be a clearer case, where it seems the determinations nearly always center around what makes the grieving family feel best (at least, in my parish).

Maybe I’m just irked by what my uncle recently said to me, that he thinks church should be uplifting and make people feel good. The “feel good” line really irks me - when did your 2nd grade teacher ever shirk from making you do something you didn’t like, if s/he knew it was in your best interests? Church is meant for transformation: “come as you are”, yes, but also “and be transformed.”


At Wednesday, December 06, 2006 7:11:00 AM, Blogger Puff the Magic Dragon said...

Good Lord, Cantor, we agree about something!

At Wednesday, December 06, 2006 8:29:00 AM, Blogger Gavin said...

It's because people have a view that because they "pay our salary" then they get to decide what we do. I've heard that often from laymen (well, my family). Which is fine logic, because no one pays another person to make them feel bad. However, the congregation can't fire us.

As I've said, I would NOT work in a Catholic church if my boss were not my boss. I know that he wants what I do, so as long as I please him I'm safe, and I'm more than happy to do so.

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 11:28:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

Enh, congregations can leave a parish, which can make the pastor uneasy and be more willing to let goo of the music minister that so many complain about.


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