Thursday, May 03, 2012

Wisconsin 101: It's not just me we all hate Marty Haugen's music and Gather

I walked into the hardware store to buy a nut and bolt to keep the doohickey thingy on the lawnmower. Fortunately, it fell off as I was finishing cutting the grass instead of when I was starting. Even so, I ran my foot over the grass trying to find the missing bolt, but only half-heartedly, because I wasn't sure if there had been a bolt there to being with. I mean, there had been one there when the lawnmower was manufactured, but at some point, the nut disappeared and then the bolt started to work its way loose and then it fell out and then the doohickey slipped and voila there we were. I could have gotten on my hands and knees to look for it but I didn't feel like it because the odds of finding the bolt were slim to negative so why bother?

No, if it's out there, I'll find it when I'm using the gas mower - I usually use the reel mower, not because I am a dedicated environmentalist but because I am too cheap to buy gas, so I get no credit for being Earth Friendly but whatever I don't care. I'll find it when the potential damage and expense is high because that's how these things work.

I pushed the mower back into the garage and put the little doohickey on the counter next to my purse. Laverne immediately nudged it off the counter onto the floor, then backed up two feet, wiggled her butt, and pounced on it, arching 18 inches into the air.

She killed it.

She stalked off, chin in the air, tail waving proudly.

I retrieved the dead doohickey and put it in my purse for safekeeping.

The next day, after the gym, I went to Puhl's, the little neighborhood hardware store that charges more than Lowe's but where you park ten feet from the front door and there's someone to help you as soon as you walk in.

Also as soon as I walked in was a bulletin board with community notices. The one that drew my attention was the one about the kittens. Five kittens. White kittens with light tabby markings. I called SH. "We need these kittens."

"No," he said flatly. "We don't need more cats." His voice softened. "Are they cute? Of course they're cute. I love kitties."

I sighed. "You're right. We don't need more cats."

I persevered in my quest. I walked to the counter. Sure enough, there was a man, waiting. But he wasn't a Puhl's guy. He was a late middle-aged guy with a neatly-trimmed white beard and a baseball hat. Khaki shorts. I recognized him, but from where? I cocked my head and pointed my finger at him. Which I know is rude. It's rude to point.

In Chile, instead of pointing with the finger, they pointed with the chin and lips. Imagine this: you lift your chin and point it in the direction of the person, then point your lips out. I call it the Latin American Lip Point.

I pointed. He pointed back. "Saint Pius," he said.

"That's right!" I answered. "Church!" He was an usher.

He stepped forward and put his hand out. "Fred," he said.

"Class Factotum."

We shook.

"Now that I know you," I said, "I should say that it is very nice of you to always offer a hymnal to me, but you don't need to bother. I feel rude saying this and I haven't said this at church, but I hate the music. I'm never going to sing it."

He laughed. "I hate it, too! There's a lot of us who feel that way!"

"You're kidding!"

Clerk #1 said, "Are you talking about Catholic music? It's awful!"

"Um-hmm," said Clerk #2.

"Are you Catholic?" I asked her.

"No, Baptist," she said.

"So you have good music," I said.

"Yes, but I've heard Catholic music."

Our reputation was known far and wide.

A customer walked up. "Oh, it's dreadful. And they make us sing every single little thing!"

I agreed. "Can't we just have an efficient service? Get in, get out. Not sing everything?" This is a German town. You'd think they would have gotten this church stuff down to a science.

"I wish we'd go back to Gregorian chant," Fred said.

"Or at least to music written by people who were born before 1950. Have you ever looked at the notes on the songs? David Haas, Marty Haugen, that other guy - all born after 1950. All the good stuff was written long before that!"

Another customer walked up. "Do you have good music in your church?" I asked.

"Yes," she answered.

"What denomination?"


"See?" I said triumphantly. "At the Reformation, we got the real estate, they got the music. Did you guys know that Marty Haugen is Lutheran? But they don't even sing his stuff in the Lutheran church? At least, not at the ELCA Lutheran church."

"Then why do we have to?" Fred asked.

I shrugged. "Maybe someone somewhere has compromising photos. That's usually how these things work. Although what could be more compromising than what's already going on I don't know."

Then I asked him, "What's the deal with the tyranny of the hand holding at Pius? I have to go into the bathroom for the Our Father just so I don't get forced to hold hands. The only person I hold hands with is my mom and even that is only because she's my mom and her feelings get hurt if I don't. I hate holding hands during the Our Father. I hate it."

"A lot of people have complained about that," Fred said. "We've lost members to other parishes. I need to talk to Father B about this stuff."

"Yeah, let's change the Catholic Church," I joked. 

The line was backing up. Not that anybody was impatient. They all agreed the music stinks and nobody likes the hand holding. Fred added that ushers are unnecessary because everyone knows what's going on. But I had a nut and bolt to get. I found a helper and it took him three minutes to find my stuff. Thirty two cents later, I was out of there. I'll let you know if the music gets any better.


Anonymous said...

At the Presbyterian church my parents go to, there are 2 hymnals: The one tattered blue book with all the songs everyone knows and likes, and the new* red one that apparently some nice old lady bought for the church and no one can admit they hate.** So most of the hymns are from the blue book except for the one mandatory red book hymn per service.

--Morfydd, who hates to log in

*And by new I mean at least 10 years old now. One would think the nice old lady would have passed away and the hymnals discreetly disposed of, but maybe her kids still attend?
**It even makes the Doxology boring. How do you mess that up?

Joy said...

Music is a fair and lovely gift of God which has often wakened and moved me to the joy of preaching. ... I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the devil and makes people gay; they forget thereby all wrath, unchastity, arrogance, and the like. Next after theology I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor I would not exchange what little I know of music for something great. Experience proves that next to the Word of God, only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feelings of the human heart. We know that to the devil music is distasteful and sufferable. My heart bubbles up and overflows in response to music, which has so often refreshed me and delivered me from dire plagues.

Joy said...

Luther was on to something.

Class factotum said...

Morfydd, the music in the Presbyterian church rocks. At Idlewild in Memphis, the rafters were shaking at "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

Class factotum said...

Joy, I think there is exactly one hymn by Martin Luther in the Gather hymnal. But he only wrote a couple dozen, so why would there be more than one?

webb said...

Try a Mennonite church. The one time I visited one they sang in four-part harmony and mostly without accompaniment. If angels existed, they would sound like Mennonites.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, it took your mind off the kittens. J

Joy said...

I don't know how much Luther actually wrote, but he appreciated music and made it a huge part of the Lutheran tradition from the start. "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was one of Luther's. The Presbyterians were wise to adopt it.

If you're ever in New York, go to a service at Holy Trinity Lutheran on Central Park West and 65th. Best church music I've ever heard, every Sunday, without fail.

Class factotum said...

Webb, that sounds like the Church of Christ. They sing without instruments, as well. They sound great.

J, it takes a lot to make me forget about cats.

Joy, the next time I'm in New York, I shall do exactly that.

Rubiatonta said...

Anglican hymns are pretty dandy -- and since the denomination is basically left-handed Catholicism, what's not to like? Smells, bells, and good singing.

Class factotum said...

Rubi, a lot of the good stuff that the RCs have abandoned.

Anonymous said...

If you want to avoid the hand-holding, close your eyes, clasp your hands in front of you in a position so that most people will see you are doing it your own way. If someone tries to force you, just yank your hand away. It's a free country.