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Poll
Question: Should an Orthodox Christian Listen to Secular Music?
Yes - Any Kind of Secular Music is Fine For Those Spiritually Mature Enough to Handle It - 16 (26.7%)
Yes - So Long As It Does Not Promote Satanic Themes or Non-Christian Spirituality - 17 (28.3%)
Yes - So Long As It Is Not Excessively Vulgar or Sexual - 20 (33.3%)
Yes - But Only Innocuous Stuff Like Classical and Instrumental Jazz - 4 (6.7%)
No - But "Gospel" "Christian Pop" and "Inspirational" Music Are Passable - 0 (0%)
No - Only the Sacred Hymns of the Orthodox Church for Me - 3 (5%)
Total Voters: 60

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« on: August 06, 2010, 06:46:09 PM »

Okay folks, I'd like try to get a little bit of a consensus on this subject.  I've seen it all from Coptic college students who listen to nothing but tasbeha and the chanting of monks, even when crusing around in the car, to OCA priests who like to put on the golden oldies station and dance around the kitchen table with their kids, to Orthodox sisters who like to listen to the local urban gospel station but wouldn't dream of switching the dial unless they could find an all akathist-all-the-time channel, to devout Orthodox Christians who play in punk and reggae bands, or rock the mic at the local hip hop hot spot.

So what do y'all think?  Are we free to listen to whatever we like, or should we restrict ourselves in some fashion?  Does anyone know of any official stance on the subject by any Orthodox Church, jurisdiction, priest, or prelate?  And if we say we won't listen to any secular music, are we hypocrites for tuning into The Simpsons or King of Queens?

And please folks, I'm not soliciting opinions about specific genres here.  If you think rock's for lowbrows, disco sucks, or polka's for losers, kindly keep it to yourself.  I don't want the thread to degenerate into matters of personal taste.  I'd really like to know if you think that it's okay for a practicing Orthodox Christian to listen to secular music, why or why not, and if yes, under what circumstances.
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2010, 07:10:13 PM »

The way I understand it is that Orthodoxy always has high ideals, but at the same time freedom is given to the faithful  to make their own choices. The church in which I spent most of my life forbid its members to listen to anything but religious music. Therefore, I know next to nothing about the types of music popular amongst my contemporaries. I find it interesting that the Copts are so strict on these issues (including a stance opposed to consumption of alcohol which I was reading about in another thread). In many ways they seem more akin to the Wesleyan Holiness types than some of their other Orthodox brethren, especially when it comes to matters of personal holiness of the laity-something which at times would be encouraging to see more of in the other Orthodox churches, to be perfectly honest.
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2010, 07:18:39 PM »

"Do not be allured by the melodious sounds of an instrument or of a voice, but by their effect upon the soul, or by the words of the song, consider what their spirit is: if the sounds produce upon your soul tranquil, chaste, holy feelings, then listen to them and feed your soul with them; whilst, if they give rise in your soul to passions, then leave off listening to them, and throw aside both the flesh and the spirit of the music."

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« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2010, 07:24:53 PM »

I have begun in the past few months to avoid music which has blatantly anti-Christian themes. As for secular music which is not blatantly anti-Christian in content, I don't think that there is a problem with listening to it.

In the poll I would have liked to vote for #3 and a little bit of #2, but obviously I wasn't able so I just voted for #3.
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2010, 07:44:06 PM »

The way I understand it is that Orthodoxy always has high ideals, but at the same time freedom is given to the faithful  to make their own choices. The church in which I spent most of my life forbid its members to listen to anything but religious music. Therefore, I know next to nothing about the types of music popular amongst my contemporaries. I find it interesting that the Copts are so strict on these issues (including a stance opposed to consumption of alcohol which I was reading about in another thread). In many ways they seem more akin to the Wesleyan Holiness types than some of their other Orthodox brethren, especially when it comes to matters of personal holiness of the laity-something which at times would be encouraging to see more of in the other Orthodox churches, to be perfectly honest.

Yeah, the Copts, the Ethiopians, and the Eritreans are among the most hardcore Christians I know.  My wife, who was received into Orthodoxy through the Coptic Church and whose exposure to the Faith has largely been through the Coptic and Ethiopian traditions, was incredulous when she found out that some of the other Churches (EO and OO) fasted only for forty days instead of fifty-five during the Great Lent, and how much more often they were allowed to indulge in fish during the various fasts of the year!  I think it’s that strong, monastic tradition.

And as far as music is concerned, I know Ethiopian Orthodox kids…and I mean little, grade school kids…who don’t listen to secular music AT ALL, but burn cds of mezmur and liturgical chanting for each other.  I’m not saying this makes the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches more righteous or anything, but you’re not kidding when you say they’re strict with the personal holiness stuff.
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« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2010, 08:01:25 PM »

That's really cool, Antonious! Increasingly, I am wondering if I shouldn't have become Coptic rather than EO. I'm really impressed with so many things about the Coptics.

Oh, and for the record, I also voted for option#3. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2010, 08:18:13 PM »

Option 3 for me, though I might have a different interpretation of "vulgar" than some.  A punk rock song that drops 30 f-bombs in anti-worldly anger?  Fine by me.  That newest Disney hit of the week that has nothing overtly sexual but promotes worldliness and has absolutely no musical value?  Away, foul beasts of Satan!  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2010, 08:25:49 PM »

That's really cool, Antonious! Increasingly, I am wondering if I shouldn't have become Coptic rather than EO. I'm really impressed with so many things about the Coptics.

Oh, and for the record, I also voted for option#3. Smiley

You sound like a very sincere and convicted Christian, Rosehip.  God bless you on your journey and sustain you in your faith.  I'm assuming that even now you don't listen to much in the way of secular stuff?

My philosophy has always been that so long as you're innoculated, so to speak, to the things of this world, it's okay to indulge here or there in little things like secular music.  I chose option 2.  I draw the line at blasphemous music, satanic stuff, or music promoting alternative forms of spirituality, but I think a little Chuck Berry or Toots and the Maytals now and then is pretty harmless.

I have Protestant relatives who contend that Lucifer was a musician before he was cast out, and that his hand is in all secular music, whether overtly satanic or not, but I've never heard the Orthodox co-signing this theory, so I never adopted that point of view.  Also, the people who advocated this theory seemed a little inconsistent to me.  You won't let a Beatles song in your "ear gate" but you're cool with watching a Freddy Krueger flick?  And you won't listen to a Puff Daddy song, but you'll listen to a Kirk Franklin song that's a rip-off of a Puff Daddy song?  I'm not putting people down, I'm just saying this never made sense to me.

Oh, and thanks to you, FormerReformer (very funny, btw!) and DVM for letting me know which options you chose.  I am curious.  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2010, 08:35:49 PM »

That's really cool, Antonious! Increasingly, I am wondering if I shouldn't have become Coptic rather than EO.

Not as a personal attack, but I'm sure that individual strength of piety is not a fundamental enough reason to determine whether to be EO or OO.
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« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2010, 08:56:29 PM »

That's really cool, Antonious! Increasingly, I am wondering if I shouldn't have become Coptic rather than EO.

Not as a personal attack, but I'm sure that individual strength of piety is not a fundamental enough reason to determine whether to be EO or OO.

I've struggled with this for some time. I still think at times we Orthodox are too obsessed with correct doctrine, whilst not devoting more emphasis on personal piety. Sometimes this obsession with "correct doctrine" can come across as ever so cold and one longs for something more practical. If you were poor and homeless, which would seem more Christ-like to yo-a Christian who gives you food and raiment and helps you find a job so you can rise above your poverty, or a Christian who is almost solely occupied with metaphysics and dogmatics? Of course, it's most ideal if the two-Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis are combined.
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2010, 09:00:35 PM »

Also, didn't Jesus call us out of the world to be salt and light to those who don't know Him? Shouldn't the Christian naturally be concerned with personal piety if he loves and wants to be a true disciple of Jesus?

I realize I am likely wrong in this, and am open for correction, but to this day, I find the division in Orthodoxy between the super-spiritual monastics and more lax piety of the laity a bit odd. I think the degree of piety required of the both laity and monastics should be similar.
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2010, 09:14:03 PM »

Quote
You sound like a very sincere and convicted Christian, Rosehip.  God bless you on your journey and sustain you in your faith.  I'm assuming that even now you don't listen to much in the way of secular stuff?

You flatter me, but I know in my heart that unfortunately, most of all, I am a struggling Christian. Thank you for your kind words of blessings, though. It is true, to this day there are many things which would now be "lawful" for me, but either because of my strict upbringing, or for the simple fact such things no longer even interest me, I don't listen to much secular stuff to this day. Sometimes I make an effort, just to see what it is that I am missing out on, but usually it is disappointing. However, there are times when I almost perversely listen to something very worldly, and enjoy it and my enjoyment is met by disapproval by other christians. So it works both ways, I guess! There are always those who will be more open-minded than ourselves, and those more cautious.
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« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2010, 09:18:03 PM »

That's really cool, Antonious! Increasingly, I am wondering if I shouldn't have become Coptic rather than EO.

Not as a personal attack, but I'm sure that individual strength of piety is not a fundamental enough reason to determine whether to be EO or OO.

I've struggled with this for some time. I still think at times we Orthodox are too obsessed with correct doctrine, whilst not devoting more emphasis on personal piety. Sometimes this obsession with "correct doctrine" can come across as ever so cold and one longs for something more practical. If you were poor and homeless, which would seem more Christ-like to yo-a Christian who gives you food and raiment and helps you find a job so you can rise above your poverty, or a Christian who is almost solely occupied with metaphysics and dogmatics? Of course, it's most ideal if the two-Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis are combined.

I think perhaps you are putting too much emphasis on what is moralistically superior.

So we should ask simply which is more objectively important.

Can we have redeeming grace without correct doctrine? The standard EO or OO answer is quite simply "no".

So what would be the point on placing personal piety above a matter on which our very redemption hinges? Rather we should look first to correct doctrine and find our personal piety through the redemption that only the orthodox Church can offer.
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« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2010, 09:19:34 PM »

I agree with a lot of what you've said, Rosehip.  As St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words".  Sometimes those who "get their hands dirty" and serve the poor, as you've described, can be much closer to the Christian ideal than a learned canonist or theologian who lives an immoral life, or is so caught up with words and books that he neglects his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Which monk was it, that when he came into the cell of one of his brothers who had acquired a great many theological texts, that he remarked, "I see you are robbing widows and orphans of their bread"?

At the same time, while I'm not advocating that we act like the brothers who stand in the vestibule and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee during the liturgy, I don't think we're all called to be monastics either.  I'll admit, the Copts and the Ethiopians come the closest (that I've seen) to embodying the ideal you've described, "I think the degree of piety required of the both laity and monastics should be similar", but I'm not sure that monastic discipline is advisable for all believers.

Like you, though, I stand to be corrected.  You've hinted at this already, but how much of your present view do you think is derived from your former tradition?  Not that that makes it a bad thing, I'm just curious.
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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2010, 09:19:50 PM »

Also, didn't Jesus call us out of the world to be salt and light to those who don't know Him? Shouldn't the Christian naturally be concerned with personal piety if he loves and wants to be a true disciple of Jesus?

Yes, of course. I am not saying that personal piety is not important. What I am saying is that correct doctrine is more fundamental in determining who is the Church of Christ, and as a consequence where we can find redemption, and as a consequence where we have the best chance to develop personal piety in the first place.
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« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2010, 09:30:51 PM »

Also, didn't Jesus call us out of the world to be salt and light to those who don't know Him? Shouldn't the Christian naturally be concerned with personal piety if he loves and wants to be a true disciple of Jesus?

Yes, of course. I am not saying that personal piety is not important. What I am saying is that correct doctrine is more fundamental in determining who is the Church of Christ, and as a consequence where we can find redemption, and as a consequence where we have the best chance to develop personal piety in the first place.

I agree, but I think I've gradually mellowed from a fierce, fiery Orthodox convert, to one who realizes that it could very well be that other traditions are simply doing a better job at some things than ourselves-I think it takes a certain humility to acknowledge this fact. I'm at the place where I can no longer see that pure doctine without true fruits is better than a non-Orthodox christian who is exhibiting the true fruit of the Spirit. I se so much coldness, for example here on OC.net regarding theological  scrupulousness, but not many discussions on what is more important to me-practical teachings on how to live the Christian life.
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« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2010, 09:35:56 PM »

Quote
At the same time, while I'm not advocating that we act like the brothers who stand in the vestibule and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee during the liturgy, I don't think we're all called to be monastics either.  I'll admit, the Copts and the Ethiopians come the closest (that I've seen) to embodying the ideal you've described, "I think the degree of piety required of the both laity and monastics should be similar", but I'm not sure that monastic discipline is advisable for all believers.

No, the degree of discipline does not have to be identical with that of the monastics, but I think it should be very easy for the laity to avoid certain worldly activities and yet still not have to be monastics. When the New Testament was written, the Christian church did not yet have a formal monasticism, yet all are called out to live a life of holiness.
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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2010, 10:02:10 PM »

Quote
At the same time, while I'm not advocating that we act like the brothers who stand in the vestibule and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee during the liturgy, I don't think we're all called to be monastics either.  I'll admit, the Copts and the Ethiopians come the closest (that I've seen) to embodying the ideal you've described, "I think the degree of piety required of the both laity and monastics should be similar", but I'm not sure that monastic discipline is advisable for all believers.

No, the degree of discipline does not have to be identical with that of the monastics, but I think it should be very easy for the laity to avoid certain worldly activities and yet still not have to be monastics. When the New Testament was written, the Christian church did not yet have a formal monasticism, yet all are called out to live a life of holiness.

I agree.  I guess it's just a matter of where we choose to draw the line.  Living a life of fasting and prayer is a good thing, and an ideal that should be strived for.  It doesn't matter how much you've studied church history, canon law, theology, or whatever else, if you're deluding yourself that sex outside of marriage is okay, or that it doesn't matter that you're stealing office supplies, or whatever else along those lines.  As far as that relates to our main topic here, I like Michael L's St. John of Kronstadt quote.  If the music is causing you to meditate on lust or violence or something, it's probably best to take that cd down to F.Y.E. and trade it in.  If not, well, maybe I'm copping out here, but I'm just not there yet with listening to hymnography every day all day (maybe I will be some day) and to me, heterodox "gospel" is basically on par with benign secular music.  Some of it's even a little dangerous, because it teaches theological concepts alien to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2010, 10:14:20 PM »

Also, didn't Jesus call us out of the world to be salt and light to those who don't know Him? Shouldn't the Christian naturally be concerned with personal piety if he loves and wants to be a true disciple of Jesus?

Yes, of course. I am not saying that personal piety is not important. What I am saying is that correct doctrine is more fundamental in determining who is the Church of Christ, and as a consequence where we can find redemption, and as a consequence where we have the best chance to develop personal piety in the first place.

I agree, but I think I've gradually mellowed from a fierce, fiery Orthodox convert, to one who realizes that it could very well be that other traditions are simply doing a better job at some things than ourselves-I think it takes a certain humility to acknowledge this fact. I'm at the place where I can no longer see that pure doctine without true fruits is better than a non-Orthodox christian who is exhibiting the true fruit of the Spirit. I se so much coldness, for example here on OC.net regarding theological  scrupulousness, but not many discussions on what is more important to me-practical teachings on how to live the Christian life.
I think we need to recognize that theology lends itself more easily to words.  We can discuss freely what the Church teaches on theology, but we are rather constrained by the words of our Lord to not boast about what we do in service to our neighbor.
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« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2010, 10:25:47 PM »

I think option 2 and 3 should be combined, seems like they go together.  But I picked number two after debating which one.
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« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2010, 10:42:10 PM »

Quote
I think we need to recognize that theology lends itself more easily to words.  We can discuss freely what the Church teaches on theology, but we are rather constrained by the words of our Lord to not boast about what we do in service to our neighbor.

 
No, not to boast, but to share, to encourage one another. And certainly it would be good to hear the clergy teaching/giving sermons on practical aspects of living the Christian life. This is not solely my opinion-it has been articulated to me by many of my friends who grew up in the former USSR and who often do not know how to behave as Christians (by their own admission, not my judgment of them).
 
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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2010, 10:48:35 PM »

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I agree.  I guess it's just a matter of where we choose to draw the line.  Living a life of fasting and prayer is a good thing, and an ideal that should be strived for.  It doesn't matter how much you've studied church history, canon law, theology, or whatever else, if you're deluding yourself that sex outside of marriage is okay, or that it doesn't matter that you're stealing office supplies, or whatever else along those lines.  As far as that relates to our main topic here, I like Michael L's St. John of Kronstadt quote.  If the music is causing you to meditate on lust or violence or something, it's probably best to take that cd down to F.Y.E. and trade it in.  If not, well, maybe I'm copping out here, but I'm just not there yet with listening to hymnography every day all day (maybe I will be some day) and to me, heterodox "gospel" is basically on par with benign secular music.  Some of it's even a little dangerous, because it teaches theological concepts alien to Orthodoxy.

I agree with you totally in this post. I also am not into listening solely to hymnography, and I think to a certain degree forbidding all secular music is a bit of a nod towards dualism. I agree with you on some of the "gospel" music (although I do still appreciate the sincerity behind many of the older, classic hymns). I don't believe we can entirely discount those. But as for the modern "CCM", "christian rock" etc. I'd rather listen to secular music than these often pathetic attempts to make Christian music "relevant" or appealing to teeny boppers.
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2010, 10:56:39 PM »

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
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« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2010, 10:58:38 PM »

My personal taste in secular (and religious) music is Classical, which I find esthetically pleasing.  I do not like anything that assaults the senses, and some of the modern classical stuff (atonalists, serialists) does just that to me.  In music, as in literature, I go by St. Basil's dictum, "Be like the bee...."
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« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2010, 04:02:30 AM »

That's really cool, Antonious! Increasingly, I am wondering if I shouldn't have become Coptic rather than EO.

Not as a personal attack, but I'm sure that individual strength of piety is not a fundamental enough reason to determine whether to be EO or OO.

I've struggled with this for some time. I still think at times we Orthodox are too obsessed with correct doctrine, whilst not devoting more emphasis on personal piety. Sometimes this obsession with "correct doctrine" can come across as ever so cold and one longs for something more practical. If you were poor and homeless, which would seem more Christ-like to yo-a Christian who gives you food and raiment and helps you find a job so you can rise above your poverty, or a Christian who is almost solely occupied with metaphysics and dogmatics? Of course, it's most ideal if the two-Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis are combined.

Listened to a talk given by Fr. Thomas Hopko that addressed exactly these issues. In the retreat I shared with him, he addressed these issues as well. As can be expected, he was rather emphatic, articulate, and thought provoking in his conclusions and suggestions.

I listen to the talk mentioned above at least once a week. It has been chopped up and offered as a set of three podcasts if anyone has any interest in it.

FWIW.
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« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2010, 05:44:21 AM »

Yay! I didn't vote since I couldn't make up whether I should choose the #1 or #2 but anyway I listen to mostly secular music. I'm a friend of black humor so a little vulgarity or even satanic themes doesn't necessarily bother me much. I don't know how things are seen in Russian or Oriental Orthodoxy but I'm rather pleased that in Finnish Orthodoxy everything outside of the Church is not plainly demonic or sinful and we do not have to live in a religious ghetto.
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« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2010, 08:04:56 AM »

I like a wide variety of music and listen to a wide variety on different occasions. Sometimes when I am doing some coding (I am a web developer by trade) I like to have something a bit loud to help me drown out the noise of the family and concentrate on what I am doing. But if I am reading something spiritual I prefer something quieter, or silence.

In terms of the monastic spirituality, I am increasingly thinking that we should see ourselves as secular or lay monastics, and that, as far as is appropriate with regard to our vocations, especially as married and family members, we should be seeking to present a radical Christianity to the worl around us. Both for the sake of the safety of our souls and for the salvation of the world.

Yet we must surely be radical without being pietistic or easily shocked by the world around us. We should be comfortable meeting and talking with someone in a pub, even if we choose not to drink alcohol ourselves. We should be aware of modern culture without allowing ourselves to submit to it. We must not live in a ghetto, but I think that the Western world needs us to be hard-core Orthodox with open and generous hearts. There are scary, rather intimidating Orthodox extremists, I am not suggesting we become like them, but we should be and must be entirely committed to our faith and to living our faith, even while we live in the world. The world needs a more monastic spirituality, and we need a more monastic spirituality if we are to be preserved in the Western world of the 21st century.

What if we lived and ate and dressed more simply? What if we prayed more and according to a rule? If we fasted more rigourously? If we participated more fully in the services of the Church without becoming liturgo-geeks but with the aim of becoming more completely transformed by grace. This is not a time for being half-hearted. I am sure that there is nothing wrong with listening to secular music, and much of the modern contemporary US christian music is just too awful to listen to in any case. But what would a radical Orthodoxy lead us to? What does it mean to be aware of modern culture, and not afraid of it, but just not closely engaged with it because it is so very often describing a false world view? I wanted to see a favourite band this year. They were only playing one gig in the UK this year, but it was during Holy Week so I didn't even think of going. But I like live music. I guess we need to find the balance at all times. Very often it must be tilted towards Christian and spiritual things, not because the secular is evil but because we only get one life, and we must live it like it matters, for our sake and for the salvation of the world.

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« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2010, 09:17:28 AM »

Excellent post, Fr. Peter! This is the kind of practical teaching we need a great deal more of!
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« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2010, 10:03:07 AM »

I think option 2 and 3 should be combined, seems like they go together.  But I picked number two after debating which one.

I was leaning that way myself when I first created the poll, but then I remembered a discussion I'd had with a former friend of mine who'd contended that profanity, however excessive, was "only a sin if it caused someone to be offended", so nothing was off limits to him in terms of coarse language, while satanic stuff was, for him, definitely beyond the pale.

Quote
I think we need to recognize that theology lends itself more easily to words.  We can discuss freely what the Church teaches on theology, but we are rather constrained by the words of our Lord to not boast about what we do in service to our neighbor.

 
No, not to boast, but to share, to encourage one another. And certainly it would be good to hear the clergy teaching/giving sermons on practical aspects of living the Christian life. This is not solely my opinion-it has been articulated to me by many of my friends who grew up in the former USSR and who often do not know how to behave as Christians (by their own admission, not my judgment of them).
 

I see where you're coming from.  My wife, while definitely interested in the theology of the Church, is much more interested in, I guess you'd say "practical" information that would help her in her daily Christian life.

I agree with you totally in this post. I also am not into listening solely to hymnography, and I think to a certain degree forbidding all secular music is a bit of a nod towards dualism. I agree with you on some of the "gospel" music (although I do still appreciate the sincerity behind many of the older, classic hymns). I don't believe we can entirely discount those. But as for the modern "CCM", "christian rock" etc. I'd rather listen to secular music than these often pathetic attempts to make Christian music "relevant" or appealing to teeny boppers.

Amen.  There's nothing cornier or more patronizing than the "skateboard ministry" or the "hip hop ministry".  Well, except for "Christian mime". Tongue

What if we lived and ate and dressed more simply? What if we prayed more and according to a rule? If we fasted more rigourously? If we participated more fully in the services of the Church without becoming liturgo-geeks but with the aim of becoming more completely transformed by grace. This is not a time for being half-hearted. I am sure that there is nothing wrong with listening to secular music, and much of the modern contemporary US christian music is just too awful to listen to in any case. But what would a radical Orthodoxy lead us to? What does it mean to be aware of modern culture, and not afraid of it, but just not closely engaged with it because it is so very often describing a false world view? I wanted to see a favourite band this year. They were only playing one gig in the UK this year, but it was during Holy Week so I didn't even think of going. But I like live music. I guess we need to find the balance at all times. Very often it must be tilted towards Christian and spiritual things, not because the secular is evil but because we only get one life, and we must live it like it matters, for our sake and for the salvation of the world.

Thanks for this, Father, especially the bits highlighted above.  Very edifying.  And it's kind of cool to know that even as a priest you'd still consider going to see your favorite band play live!  Now I'm sure we're all left wondering exactly who they are!  Huh
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« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2010, 11:05:38 AM »

There is a man I know who wanted to see Tangerine Dream at the Royal Albert Hall, but it was during Holy Week so he didn't. He is also trying to see lots of the bands he always liked when he was young. So he would like to see Rush again, and Yes. He might go and see Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson who are playing near by later this year. Last year he saw Jethro Tull, all old men nowadays. He wanted to see Bob Dylan again and Van Morrison who played locally a few weeks ago but the tickets were more than he could justify spending. He also liked the space-rock band, Hawkwind and saw them lots of times and would like to see them again. He saw Bruce Springsteen a year or so ago and wouldn't mind seeing Coldplay, and Kasabian.

I do find profanity and bad language problematic in music and would not usually listen to music that was made up of such. Not only was I brought up not to use any bad language at all, but I don't think it is helpful to be immune to it as Christians, or allow it to seep into our hearts through music etc. What we listen to we cannot help being affected by.

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« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2010, 11:28:30 AM »

Wow, this gentleman you know has rather eclectic tastes and is surprisingly up to date with his Coldplay reference.  Well done.  As I get older, I find myself increasingly disconnected from the youth culture and the music of the day, but I suppose that's the way it should be.  As to profanity and bad language in music, there was a time (in my teenage years) when I was totally desensitized to it, but now, as I spend more time in the Church and contemplating things of a spiritual nature, I find that I can't stomach some of the records I used to love back in the day.  First Corinthians 13:11 springs to mind.
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« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2010, 11:43:30 AM »

The person I am talking about likes classical music too, and folk. He used to visit Helsinki very regularly and would visit the national concert hall to listen to various classical pieces. He likes Einojuhani Routavari and has a lot of his works. And he likes choral music. Generally classic rock music though especially prog rock.
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« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2010, 12:41:23 PM »

For myself, and my personal taste.

I chose #4.  Though I don't think that classical music or jazz are all inherently innocuous, either.
I chose #4 also with the inclusion of traditional folk styles of music.  I particularly enjoy Celtic and am always interested to hear new styles.  Songlines, history and lessons learned through allegorical songs are very interesting to me. 

I know it can be a landmine/goldmine to reference Fr. Seraphim here, but I agree with what he has to say regarding the "culture of weird" in his Living the Orthodox Worldview talk. 

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« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2010, 02:35:02 PM »

For myself, and my personal taste.

I chose #4.  Though I don't think that classical music or jazz are all inherently innocuous, either.
I chose #4 also with the inclusion of traditional folk styles of music.  I particularly enjoy Celtic and am always interested to hear new styles.  Songlines, history and lessons learned through allegorical songs are very interesting to me. 

I know it can be a landmine/goldmine to reference Fr. Seraphim here, but I agree with what he has to say regarding the "culture of weird" in his Living the Orthodox Worldview talk. 




Fr. Seraphim's always been all right with me.  If I recall correctly, in the essay you're referencing, he cautions against the extremes of assimilating into the I-Me-My culture en toto on the one hand, and phony hesychasm-as-fashion on the other.
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« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2010, 02:41:10 PM »

he cautions against the extremes of assimilating into the I-Me-My culture en toto on the one hand, and phony hesychasm-as-fashion on the other.

That's the one.  I think very relevant in this thread.  I also think the culture of weird thing applies to contemporary music and the coolness that goes along with it.

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« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2010, 03:02:11 PM »

Yeah, and Fr. Seraphim sort of ties that in with the way children are raised nowadays, to simply pursue whatever makes them happy no matter how that affects other people around them or their own soul.  So in the context of this thread, even if a certain musical form is "weird" (to borrow your phrase), as in promoting aberrational or deviant behavior (especially of a sexual nature), if it's "fun" and "makes them happy", most of today's spoiled, egocentric kids are going to give it a whirl.

Here's the essay for those who are interested:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/rose_wv.aspx

The only issue I have with the article is the following...

Quote
When such a child becomes an adult, he naturally surrounds himself with the same things he was used to in his childhood: comforts, amusements, and grown-up toys. Life becomes a constant search for "fun" which, by the way, is a word totally unheard of in any other vocabulary; in 19th century Russia they wouldn't have understood what this word meant, or any serious civilization.

Can this be accurate?  I know that life was rough back in the day, but I think that even in the grimmest of circumstances people have always found a way to have a little fun.  I realize that Fr. Seraphim is cautioning us against unbridled hedonism and self-gratification here, but I think that even 19th century Russian peasants had their little diversions.  Is someone partaking in the "culture or weird" if they listen to the radio on the way to work in the morning?
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« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2010, 03:32:05 PM »

I agree with a lot of what you've said, Rosehip.  As St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words".  Sometimes those who "get their hands dirty" and serve the poor, as you've described, can be much closer to the Christian ideal than a learned canonist or theologian who lives an immoral life, or is so caught up with words and books that he neglects his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Which monk was it, that when he came into the cell of one of his brothers who had acquired a great many theological texts, that he remarked, "I see you are robbing widows and orphans of their bread"?

At the same time, while I'm not advocating that we act like the brothers who stand in the vestibule and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee during the liturgy, I don't think we're all called to be monastics either.  I'll admit, the Copts and the Ethiopians come the closest (that I've seen) to embodying the ideal you've described, "I think the degree of piety required of the both laity and monastics should be similar", but I'm not sure that monastic discipline is advisable for all believers.

Like you, though, I stand to be corrected.  You've hinted at this already, but how much of your present view do you think is derived from your former tradition?  Not that that makes it a bad thing, I'm just curious.


I'm not going to give you my opinion ,because you quoted a Heretic Francis of Assisi ,don't we have Holy Orthodox Saints to quote ...... Grin
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« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2010, 03:44:15 PM »

If you have nothing kind to say it really would be best if you said nothing.

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« Reply #38 on: August 07, 2010, 04:04:34 PM »

I agree with what you say about the universality of amusement, and seeking diversions. But I wonder if the desire to be diverted is something to be avoided? Or at least to be aware of.

I used to have a 35-40 minute drive to work and used to listen to a morning politics programme on the radio. It tended to make me very annoyed - without me being able to do anything at all about the things that were annoying me. Then I would listen to a music CD. But in the end I developed the habit of praying the first hour from the Agpeya on the way to work, and it became a good habit so that I no longer wanted to listen to the radio instead of praying the hour.

I would want to agree with Father Seraphim about the need for balance. So I would not want to absolutise any practice. But since fun does have the sense of amusement and amusement does have the sense of seeking diversion, we can ask ourselves what or who are we seeking to be diverted from giving attention to?

I remember when I was in Senegal for a few months, I was staying in a remote village and was left on my own as the only European there for a night. I was sitting watching the folk in the fields and was tremendously disappointed that I didn't have my copy of a volume of the Philokalia to be able to read about prayer. Then I realised the irony (or scandal) that I was frustrated that I could not read about prayer rather than enjoying the opportunity to be engaged in prayer.

Should someone be always occupied with prayer? I don't see how this cannot be and should not be the aim and desire of all Christians. If we are always desiring to be occupied with prayer then it seems to me that this transforms everything else. We become less desirous of being 'diverted'. We become more desirous of having our attention on God. There is music which allows us to be attentive and which, playing on an Ipod, helps to drown out the other noise around us. But there is a great deal of music which adds to the noise and prevents us being still. Likewise much else we are engaged in is designed to, or has the effect of, preventing us being still.

Simplicity of life must surely have as one objective the goal of making greater space for an interior stillness. It has nothing to do with rejecting the world, and everything to do with seeking to be attached to God alone.

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« Reply #39 on: August 07, 2010, 04:56:50 PM »

I'm not going to give you my opinion ,because you quoted a Heretic Francis of Assisi ,don't we have Holy Orthodox Saints to quote ...... Grin

And I'm sure our discussion will be much the poorer for the loss of such a couth and charitable individual as yourself.  Wink

I agree with what you say about the universality of amusement, and seeking diversions. But I wonder if the desire to be diverted is something to be avoided? Or at least to be aware of.

I used to have a 35-40 minute drive to work and used to listen to a morning politics programme on the radio. It tended to make me very annoyed - without me being able to do anything at all about the things that were annoying me. Then I would listen to a music CD. But in the end I developed the habit of praying the first hour from the Agpeya on the way to work, and it became a good habit so that I no longer wanted to listen to the radio instead of praying the hour.

I would want to agree with Father Seraphim about the need for balance. So I would not want to absolutise any practice. But since fun does have the sense of amusement and amusement does have the sense of seeking diversion, we can ask ourselves what or who are we seeking to be diverted from giving attention to?

I remember when I was in Senegal for a few months, I was staying in a remote village and was left on my own as the only European there for a night. I was sitting watching the folk in the fields and was tremendously disappointed that I didn't have my copy of a volume of the Philokalia to be able to read about prayer. Then I realised the irony (or scandal) that I was frustrated that I could not read about prayer rather than enjoying the opportunity to be engaged in prayer.

Should someone be always occupied with prayer? I don't see how this cannot be and should not be the aim and desire of all Christians. If we are always desiring to be occupied with prayer then it seems to me that this transforms everything else. We become less desirous of being 'diverted'. We become more desirous of having our attention on God. There is music which allows us to be attentive and which, playing on an Ipod, helps to drown out the other noise around us. But there is a great deal of music which adds to the noise and prevents us being still. Likewise much else we are engaged in is designed to, or has the effect of, preventing us being still.

Simplicity of life must surely have as one objective the goal of making greater space for an interior stillness. It has nothing to do with rejecting the world, and everything to do with seeking to be attached to God alone.

Father Peter

Hmmm...a lot to think about.  If we truly are called to "perpetual praise and continual prayer", should we be seeking "diversion" from this calling at all?  Or is it indeed possible to praying all the while, even while occupied with "diversions", work, et cetera.  Suddenly, I'm reminded of Bishop Kallistos Ware's contemplation on the Jesus Prayer, The Power of the Name.
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« Reply #40 on: August 07, 2010, 05:49:32 PM »

I agree with a lot of what you've said, Rosehip.  As St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words".  Sometimes those who "get their hands dirty" and serve the poor, as you've described, can be much closer to the Christian ideal than a learned canonist or theologian who lives an immoral life, or is so caught up with words and books that he neglects his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Which monk was it, that when he came into the cell of one of his brothers who had acquired a great many theological texts, that he remarked, "I see you are robbing widows and orphans of their bread"?

At the same time, while I'm not advocating that we act like the brothers who stand in the vestibule and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee during the liturgy, I don't think we're all called to be monastics either.  I'll admit, the Copts and the Ethiopians come the closest (that I've seen) to embodying the ideal you've described, "I think the degree of piety required of the both laity and monastics should be similar", but I'm not sure that monastic discipline is advisable for all believers.

Like you, though, I stand to be corrected.  You've hinted at this already, but how much of your present view do you think is derived from your former tradition?  Not that that makes it a bad thing, I'm just curious.


I'm not going to give you my opinion ,because you quoted a Heretic Francis of Assisi ,don't we have Holy Orthodox Saints to quote ...... Grin
1.  If this quote from St. Francis is true to the Gospel, who cares whom it comes from?
2.  You don't want to give us your opinion?  Fine, don't give us your opinion.
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« Reply #41 on: February 02, 2012, 01:30:59 AM »

"Music is of two kinds (as are the other arts also)—secular and ecclesiastical. Each of these has been developed by different feelings and different states of the soul. Secular music expresses worldly (i.e., carnal) feelings and desires. Although these feelings may be very refined (romantic, sentimental, idealistic, etc.), they do not cease being carnal. Nevertheless, many people believe that these feelings are spiritual. However, spiritual feelings are expressed only by ecclesiastical music. Only ecclesiastical music can truly express the secret movements of the heart, which are entirely different from those inspired and developed by secular music. That is, it expresses contrition, humility, suffering and godly grief, which, as Paul says, "worketh repentance to salvation." [2] Ecclesiastical music can also evoke feelings of praise, thanksgiving, and holy enthusiasm. Secular music, on the other hand—even the purest—expresses carnal emotions, even when it is inspired by suffering and affliction. This type of suffering, Paul calls "worldly grief," which "worketh death." "

Quote from Photios Kontoglou. The rest of the article, and other articles here:
http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Epilogue.htm
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/07/photios-kontoglou-prophet-of-suffering.html
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« Reply #42 on: February 02, 2012, 01:37:19 AM »

"But where the drinkers are men of worth and culture, you will find no girls piping or dancing or harping.  They are quite capable of enjoying their own company without such frivolous nonsense, using their own voices in sober discussion and each taking his turn to speak or listen - even if the drinking is really heavy."

-Plato

 Grin
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« Reply #43 on: February 02, 2012, 04:20:38 AM »

My iPod is probably about 90% church hymns and other Christian material (lectures, taraneem, some not strictly OO stuff from much earlier eras in Western Christiandom, e.g., Mozarabic chant). Of the remaining 10%, it is mostly older secular music from Orthodox countries (Ethiopian, Russian, etc) which is poetic -- not vulgar -- love songs, nationalistic songs, etc. Plenty of artists also record both religious and secular music (Fairuz, Wadih El Safi, P. Susheela, etc.), though this seems not to be the case with the Copts who make the majority of my playlist. That's absolutely fine with me, though; I wouldn't want to hear Gad Lewis sing love songs anyway.
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« Reply #44 on: February 02, 2012, 11:47:19 AM »

I think that the sentiments expressed by those who seem to feel that all earthly and human created beauty is somehow nothing more than a temptation to evil are wrong - pure and simply, wrong.

While contemplating a response, I came across a link from the Antiochian Orthodox Church in the US featuring an interview with Anne Van Fossen, a classical educator and co-founder of the Classical Learning Resource Center,an Orthodox online school offering classes in Greek and Latin, Philosophy and Critical Thinking. http://www.antiochian.org/node/24523

While she does not address secular music in this interview, I believe that this excerpt from that interview mirrors my thoughts on this subject: "Further, as students study great literature and probe the roots of their opinions and assumptions they deepen their understanding of the context of their faith and appreciation of its beauty and truth. They wrestle with the ultimate questions of humanity made in the image of God and in so doing are made more authentically human. Great literature provides an antidote to the false and shallow ideas that pervade the modern world through television and advertising. Students are led out of a narrow world of alienation from God, from nature, and from each other and immersed in Achilleus’ struggle with the vanity of life in the face of inevitable death, Pip’s efforts to be a good man, Huck Finn’s battle to do right by Jim, and the poignant pain of Quasimodo. Students learn to emulate the integrity of Alyosha, the dedication of Hector, and the honor of D’Artagnan. We are made in God’s image not merely to be trained as workers for increased productivity but with the capacity to think, create, perceive and appreciate beauty, and comprehend and respond to Truth."

Secular music, when taken in this light, can be appreciated by the faithful Orthodox Christian - and rejected when necessary.

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