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Station XV: Episode 99 – Wall to (almost) wall Pope Francis

The 15th Station podcast

It’s fair to say Pope Francis is dominating headlines around the world, so he’s doing the same on The 15th Station. Whether it’s the opening of the Jubilee Door – and Year of Mercy – or his calling for swift action in response to the Paris climate talks, Francis continues to be a media rock star. And apparently he’s also something of a musical rock star, with a new CD launched featuring the Pontiff. There’s other discussion of music on this month’s show, with James, Don and Gavin wondering if there’s such a thing as “objectively good” Church music. Merry Christmas from The 15th Station family and we’ll speak with you all in January for Episode 100!

  • gustavoH

    Very interesting episode.
    Regarding the climate Paris summit, the BIG discussion point was the amount of economical help that the (already) industrialised countries, need to give to the third world ones in compensation for non-industrialising via carbon emissions. So yes! That topic was the tipping point of the agenda!

    Regarding celebration music, there are some objective points to consider. The catechism says:
    “[…]three principal criteria: beauty expressive of prayer, the unanimous participation of the assembly at the designated moments, and the solemn character of the celebration” (1157)
    Therefore if the only ones singing are the choir and the musicians, is not appropriate. And must be solemn (not rock & pop).
    Continue quoting: “the texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine. Indeed they should be drawn chiefly from the Sacred Scripture and from liturgical sources.” (1158)
    So, Imagine by John Lennon is out of boundaries (I like the song though, but is out of context in a celebration to sing “and no religion too!”).

    just my two cents.

    Keep up the good job guys! I really enjoy each episode. Thanks!

  • Jacob Mason

    Gentlemen, thank you for the episode. I enjoy the podcast greatly and am looking forward to many more good years…

    Anyway, a few words about music:

    It is quite true music can be performed well or poorly.

    It is also true that there is a subjective aspect of music such that different circumstances and different audiences (i.e. people with different life experiences) will appreciate and be uplifted by varying sorts of music.

    But, music, as a type of art has the characteristic of beauty. Beauty is (mostly agreed upon to be) one of the transcendentals – the encounters with Divine Being that we humans can experience (the other transcs. being truth, unity, and goodness).

    As things participate more or less in God’s perfect being, they can possess these transcendental qualities more or less. The ham sandwich I ate for lunch is good, but not as good as my mother for example.

    The gradations of the transcendentals provide the basis for Aquinas’ 4th argument for the existence of God in fact.

    Some things are objectively more beautiful than others and even within any genus (e.g. music) this is true.

    Now, why isn’t it obvious to everyone what music is objectively better than other music?

    For one thing we are conditioned by our culture to believe it is wholly relative.

    For another, there is a tremendously powerful characteristic of music to shape the mind of the listener (more so than other art forms). I think this is related to the fact that music gets at us through the sense of hearing (which is the sense by which we learn).

    The upshot is that if you listen to a particular sort of music, you will be stimulated by (and therefore enjoy) that and related kinds of music.

    So…who knows what good music is? Aristotle (and Aquinas after him) said that the virtuous man is the best judge. That is, the person who has a habitual inclination to to good (or the beautiful) in whatever subject we are interested in. (This is not necessarily the same as the person who has studied it the most or possesses the most professional qualifications – St. Thérèse never studied Christology at a seminary…)

    If you want to know what is objectively good music, ask the person who has the most excellent appreciation of music.

    There remain the subjective characteristics, but I’ve taken enough space on this page I think. 😉

    God bless you and keep up the good work.

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