First off, I have to admit that my title is not original. In fact, it’s pretty much a rip off from a post over at the Mere Comments blog, entitled Flatter the Emperor, Pander to the Crowd:
This post is dedicated to all you long-suffering parishioners out there who have to endure weekly services interrupted by showboating and shimmying choirs, singing music written in the key of C minus (that is no typo!) to lyrics that Ogden Nash would have been embarrassed to sign his name to.
(I happen to think Ogden Nash was brilliant, by the way.)
In the post, Anthony Esolen lists 6 traits that he sees as common to the great periods of artistic growth, then compares them to what he calls a “decadent age:”
By contrast, you can tell a decadent age by a shift from popular culture to mass entertainment, the loss of a canon of revered and universally understandable art, the decline in standards of education, the decline of crafts and trades, the abolition of separate “laboratories” or their absorption under a single jurisdiction (for instance, the expunging of the local element from all of our public schools), and the curtailing of political freedom, or the loss of material prosperity.
He then points out that the only exception our current liturgical composers (liturgical, I’m assuming, is used very loosely) have with the other decadent ages is the “loss of material prosperity.”
It is, I believe, a point well-made. I’ve said somewhat the same thing, only not nearly as well. Our contemporary pop theology, praxis and hymnody largely ignores both the historical Church and any sense of excellence. (It just makes you want to go to church, doesn’t it?)
Drift on over to Mere Comments and read the balance of the post, and see if you agree.