Bible Politics

“The Most Friendly To Religion”

America has given to the world a precious jewel.

It has shown that a government whose concerns are purely secular and which leaves to the individual conscience of its citizenry all obligations that relate to God is the one which is actually the most friendly to religion.

It is a precious jewel that we have. We should guard it well.


– Leo Pfeffer, 1910-1993, jurist

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17 Comments

  • My apologies, folks. I’m having comments problems (i.e. my software is messing with my head). It deleted the comment before Martin’s (would have been #13) to the effect:

    It seems that churches that are more progressive (i.e. more Biblical in their moral concerns) tend more to use classical music and the old hymns. Churches that are politically more rightist and much more narrow in their concerns about public morality use more “pop” music.

  • I agree without reserve. – Though it’s probably a pattern even more pronounced in America, as compared to Europe, where the classical music is nearer to its roots (thus allowing for its being used in a very thoughtless, traditional way of employment in strongly conservative services). – But, quite generally speaking, I think this phenomenon is rather easily explained. For the time-tested hymns, let alone the music which was fashioned according to classical rules of composition and Belcanto singing to begin with, is also the music which does not just appeal to emotion, or emotionally-laden personal experiences, in order to bring forth its effect, but is nurture for the spirit too. It simply refuses to resonate with us unless we open our hearts AND minds to an import that lies deeper than what can easily be garnered by simple repetition. – Perhaps with the exception of the more pleasant of Mozart’s tunes, which, however, do not bear the brunt of his legacy in spiritual music.

    And now, on the other hand, Christian social progressiveness is just agape on the political level, and agape is the very kind of (pure) love, which, though not being the ‘fruit of spirit’ (or any other such popularized Platonic conception), yet is very rightfully conceived as making demands on our entire personality, in which mind and spirit play a crucial role, indeed.

    And contrary to what some neo-evangelical fashions or schools of thought may tell us, in real life it does not, generally, ‘feel good’ to do good. It ‘only’ gives us fulfillment, which is a huge difference. For fulfillment is not a feeling at all, it is a condition embracing and (gradually) altering all your other personal, natural relevant feelings.

    Modern worship music, in my eyes, is vastly too much operating on the plane of natural feelings, reinterpreted in a way to match this or that Scriptural original.

    Footnote: It is a sign of how much our culture is weaned away from an honest, authentical way of historical consciousness that the paradigm of what I just wrote will expose me to the suspicion of being biassed. I am not. For though my verdict is detrimental to modern culture, as compared to former ages, this ‘bias’ is no arbitrarily introduced prejudice, but is derivative, namely derivative from the (prior) fact that our culture generally refuses to consider to notion of ‘time-testedness’, which Richard commendably introduced.

    Our culture uses to take the jewels from past and compares them to the pebbles of today. By that token, the pebbles of today soon become even less worthy than the pebbles of yesterday were at their time, for their composers adapted to a culture that, generally, did recognize the (higher) value of former outstanding cultural inheritance and expressed this esteem via rules of composition, that demanded either observation or a true genius to introduce the next step os historic development.

    To sum it up: Our culture has grown respectless, and therefore the state of its art is low.

  • I love some of the discussions that get going here!

    And we would have loved sitting through the Requiem as a worship service.

  • Something I meant to add to the previous comment:
    Thanks, Martin, for your kind replies and your restraint in the use of folkloric weaponry. And I think you were most fortunate to grow up in a musical family.

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