Less Kumbaya

I recently had the privilege of meeting an ordained minister, born and raised a Catholic, from my home town of Pittsfield.

His entire family has embraced their new religious tradition, and are deeply involved in the goings on of their congregation.

They’re a model family.

Except for one thing.

They’re not Catholics any more.

Why do things like that happen?

Is it because of the power of evangelical teaching?

I dare say not.

Is it because of Truth that they hold, which is far superior to ours?

Not in my view.

Is it because of church scandals or priestly abuses?

From what I’ve seen, folks deeply offended and overly vocal on that subject have forsaken religion and God entirely.

More on this topic some other time.

Here’s what might be the cause.

How many of you remember the Bubble Gum era of modern music?

It was called such because one would chew on it for a while, have a tiny bit of fun with the sugar and the bubbles, then, once it was worn through, spit it out.

It had so little staying power that now it’s looked back upon, almost as a shameful era of Rock and Roll.

Taking a bird’s-eye view of the history of Catholicism, especially over the past sixty years, I believe we’re finally reaching the end of our bubble gum era.

Identifying it is the first thing we must do.

Realizing that it helped cause a mass exodus is even more important.

In conversations I had with this minister, he admitted, he tried to reconcile his emptiness before saying goodbye, but none had the answers he needed.

Somehow the song Kumbaya, which many of us learned in the 60’s, symbolizes where we started to go wrong.

In our church, St. Mark’s in Pittsfield, music like that, “folk music,” was first only permitted at the Sunday evening 5:30 Mass….the “folk Mass,” with guitars and tambourines and 20-year-old musicians jamming on the altar.

Every other Eucharistic celebration was musically accompanied by classic hymns and our pipe organ.

More like fine china than paper plates.

I can still see my father, in suit and tie, singing from the depths of his soul, songs like, “The Churches’ One Foundation” and “Holy Holy Holy” etc…

It stirred my soul even as a five-year old.

Then, just as quickly as the “bubble gum” folk music sneaked in, somehow it took over.

Songs like “Sing to the Mountain,” became the entrance and closing hymn at Sunday morning masses.

My family and I, without realizing it, were among a small group that rode out the bubble gum storm, while others, like my new minister friend, left for greener pastures.

The article below, from the Washington Post, better explains how we may have finally turned the corner.



2 Responses to “Less Kumbaya”

  1. dhuisjen2 Says:

    Jim, you may well have been at the worship service I describe in the intro to this essay about the song in question: http://huisjenphilosophy.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/kum-by-hya/

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