Here is the continuation.
After the glimpse above into the savagery of scientism, the need for Professor Schmidt's study will be appreciated.
In my previous column I spoke about the first half of the book - the transformation of people by the teaching of Christ.
The key notion of the teaching of Christ is the soul. One of the Russian words for "murderer" is "soul ruiner." Every human being has a unique soul, the teaching of Christ revealed two millennia ago, and science has later found that every person's fingerprint, DNA, genome is, indeed, unique. The murderer "ruins" what has never been before and will never be again.
Hence every human being is worth compassion - and medical treatment to save him or her. This is in contrast to Plato's ideal state ("republic"), in which those seriously ill should not be treated medically, but should be allowed to die. In the late 19th century there appeared a special science called "eugenics," which was taken in all earnest until the Nazis compromised it by killing off those who worsened the eugenic human race as represented by the mythical Aryans of Alfred Rosenberg.
Practically or pragmatically, the notion of the soul means that it is not within the human mental capacity to determine anyone's value to be able to propagate the "best" humans and kill the "worst." Thus, those found insane were put to death in Nazi Germany. My uncle, a famous Russian psychiatrist, published a magazine named "Genius and Insanity,” which described cases in which a person thought to be insane was actually a genius, or insanity and genius were combined in one person.
Quite a few physicists in Nazi Germany were convinced that Einstein was insane - or insane in a special Jewish way. To assert that there is no universal time or universal space, but there are many times and many spaces, or times-spaces! Crazy or Jewish! But the nuclear bomb proved otherwise.
Chapter 6 of Professor Schmidt’s study is entitled "Hospitals and Health Care: Their Christian Roots." Of course! How can a hospital exist without compassion, somehow mixed with the awareness that every soul is unique - created only once and never again.
There is no doubt that the notion of the soul led to the protection of society against the tyrants who "ruined souls" at their will and whim. Human beings are equal not in the sense that they are the same, but, on the contrary, in the sense that every human being is unique and no one can predict or determine anyone's ultimate value and consign those found worthless or inferior to death or slavery or any other such status.
Chapter 12 of Professor Schmidt's study is devoted to "Christianity's Stamp on Art" and Chapter 13 is entitled "The Sound of Music: Its Christian Resonance."
Listen to Western or Russian church or secular music from the ninth to the 19th century. What is in common between the Gregorian chants and Puccini’s "Tosca" (1900), broadcast as I am writing this? What distinguishes them from the music of other civilizations, such as China, whose ivories and silks far surpassed millennia ago anything Europe ever created in crafts?
The soul is what makes music in Christendom so different. The music of Christendom expresses refined or subtle feelings - that is, the soul, which is beautiful, divine, "soulful" - and as we listen, we are in a different world, where we are infinite, eternal, elevated above earthly cares and concerns.
Says Professor Schmidt (p. 386): "But then [!] came the twentieth century with its modern music ...," which Martha Bayles defines as a "hole in the soul" in her book of 1994, "Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American [read: Western and Russian] Music." Professor Schmidt remarks: "The real tragedy of rock music, especially its heavy metal type, is not that it has a hole in its soul but that it has no soul at all."
It is said that tastes differ and are products of one's environment. I am elated by the fact that for all the differences of our backgrounds, my taste coincides with that of Alvin Schmidt and Martha Bayles.
Until my mid-teenage years, most of the music I had heard was Soviet pop. I had never been in any church or synagogue. Once in a food market (which was also a flea market) I bought two old gramophone records of "classical" music (Liszt and Rachmaninoff) because I knew from books that refined people listen to it. I put both records on, one after the other, and I was horrified: That music was a meaningless sequence of sounds.
Two decisions could follow. I could say: "To hell with that music and those who listen to it." Or I could say: "So I am unworthy, defective, crude." This is what I decided, and put the records on again. I put them on again and again until I knew them by heart, and now I could not understand how anyone can be deaf to such worlds of sonic treasures.
The moral is that the understanding of music (and not of Soviet or American or French pop songs, for example) requires a spiritual effort, inner work, striving for more profound experiences.
From the ninth to the 19th century there were in Christendom (1) folk music, (2) church music, and (3) what is now called "classical" music. Their appreciation took a spiritual effort and their composition spiritual genius.
But coming to predominate in the 20th century were two assumptions: (1) If a majority of people prefer to listen to pop and pay for it, as against a tiny minority who prefer to listen to Bach, then pop music is even better than Bach’s. (2) If someone calls himself a composer and writes what he calls music, but no one wants to listen to it because it expresses nothing human (Ortega y Gasset has labeled it, with great satisfaction, "dehumanized music"), this "dehumanized composer" is as good as any composer of genius.
The result? The number of listeners of pop music keeps growing because it takes no effort to understand - if there is anything to understand. The number of composers of dehumanized music keeps growing since everyone capable of making "dehumanized" noise can be equated with a composer of genius. No one wants to pay for dehumanized music, but it is subsidized.
Both pop and dehumanized noise threaten to engulf those tiny oases of music that still exist. Culturally, this is the same as are, politically, Nazi and Communist dictatorships - regression to pre-Christian barbarity or even savagery.