Sunday, July 15, 2012

Catholic pneuma and psyche

For many people, once formed Catholic, always Catholic. Someone may not have been in church for twenty years, someone may have argument after argument with the Church, and never-the-less Catholic they remain; and people can tell. There are contemporary song lyrics that are Catholic. And no they are not up for Dove awards. Here, right me if i am wrong in the judgments.

Bruce Springsteen has catholicity in his writing. He knows community, he knows struggle. Not only is he a Catholic, he is a public D/democrat.
Darkness at the Edge of Town, and Nebraska are two albums that cry of broken communities. Capitalism and the rise of Reagan's use of it did no good for the poor, and the working classes.  Later, Bruce begins a song:

Jesus was an only son
As he walked up Calvary Hill
His Mother Mary walking beside Him
Implicit, and explicit imagery read Catholic. I do not know how often he formally partakes the Sacrament. I read his Catholic grade school experiences were not good. Bruce has been quoted, I've inherited this particular landscape”, and Once a Catholic, always a Catholic..

He is not the only example. Patty Griffin in a song, i have only very recently encountered, sings:

...And I'm getting older and odd
I get up every morning with a black cup of coffee
And I talk to the Mother of God...
There are other melancholic lyrics in the song. Altogether, it thoroughly engaged me emotionally (i can only remember the Kilkelly Ireland song being more poignant). I cannot believe it is a case of someone borrowing, or discovering Catholic imagery. It sounds just too legitimately, and deeply Catholic. Griffin's song is not necessarily linear, but it touches deep. For a recent gospel album, she is quoted, “Both of my parents were very religious. My father spent time living as a Trappist monk. It was a very Catholic life that I lived as a child. Spiritually I’m a mutt, at this point. All the imagery of those teaching is in me, it’s in my blood, and it continues to show up and inspire different things. A lot of people think this is too basic to think, too bleeding heart liberal to think, but we’re all looking for the same stuff.”
 Robert Earl Keen sings in Corpus Christi Bay:

We threw her clothes into the car trunk
Her photographs, her rosary
This is not a throw away line. The phrasing is tuneful. Keen might just be acquainted with the object, but people who are only just so, still often do not understand (really—feel).

In bluegrass there is Peter Rowan. Bluegrass is not a Catholic genre. He wrote, Midnight Moonlight.

I'll meet you at Alamo mission, and we can say our prayers,
The Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mother will heal us as we kneel there.
There are not many more lines in the song. It can be nothing other than Catholic.
These songs and their creators are not considered 'Catholic' by the public, and the industry [by and large]. I do not expect them on the playlists of 'Christian' and 'religious' stations. Such songs are deeply, and artistically religious. One can argue they are from 'lapsed Catholics', but i see a lot of pharisee policing in that phrase.

Being Catholic is not synonymous with being a dutifully, observant Catholic; and devout Catholic is not the opposite of lapsed Catholic. And once, people knew that. There is an old joke (told in an Irish brogue) about an atheist speaker, who after his talk entertained questions.
“Is it a Catholic God, or a Protestant God you don't believe in?, was the question he was asked. No, Catholicism remains until one formally joins something else, or renounces; and maybe even not then. Do the church police forget (or ignore) that baptism leaves a mark on the soul?

Saturday night, i attended a concert of a fine guitarist. He was a 'Christian' artist. The crowd was full of long time fans. He was sincere, but confessional theology rarely makes for good songs. People 'enjoy' the musical form, and agree with the message.

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