Contenti n’andremo se un poco
Noie lo podessemo tocare
Lo podessemo toccar
E pero te nepregamo
Quanto noie, Siam pastori
De poco affare
Comments? Anyone? Anyone?
If you know what that little poem means, good for you. All I know is that they’re the Latin lyrics for a choral piece called (in English) the Shepherd’s Chorus.
It harkens us to an era when citizens were more or less coerced to come to mass on Sunday mornings and listen to songs and readings in Latin, which was completely foreign to them. Talk about irrelevant. We don’t know the meaning of the word anymore. On top of that, you might even describe the Medieval Europe religious experience with the words “malicious irrelevance.” The popes and bishops of the day preferred to have a corner on the scripture-knowledge market, just like any power broker. Thus, people like Wycliffe, who produced a huge chunk of what would later be known as the King James Bible, were promptly knocked off for putting Scripture within reach of the bourgeoisie.
Fond memories, eh?
I don’t accuse anyone of trying to take us back to it. But I do want to provide some perspective for those who foster a nostalgia for the time when western religion was sacred and mysterious. My phraseology should provide a hint as to what that perspective is… because I choose the words “western religion” carefully. I have no doubt that there was a certain number of true Christ-followers among the herds of Medieval clergy and laity. But the system as a whole, in my opinion, did not represent Christ at all.
Some will argue that today’s church establishment doesn’t, either. I would be tempted to agree, with caveats. But that’s a blog for another day.
My point is about the “Ancient-Future” movement, which has gone by many other names. If you refer to my recent post on Post-Modernism, you will understand the post-modern penchant for that which is Retro, Vintage. I personally think it’s great. So go ahead and sing the old hymns with a drum machine in the background! Go ahead and re-occupy some abandoned Victorian church house and breathe new life into it! These things are all fine, and there are many more. So don’t let me discourage anyone from finding and implementing the long-gone ideas that still hold value.
But just as Modernism proclaims, “If it’s new, it’s good!” it is tempting for those in the Ancient-Future movement to herald the opposite view. Old and mysterious and spooky—that’s where it’s at.
Congratulations to those who have seen through the veil of formulaic faith; the veil that claims that you, too, can have God all figured out and if you do x, y, and z then you’ll be His best buddy; the veil that conceals the majesty and mystery of Yahweh. But presented here is yet another opportunity to swing wide, sweet pendulum, and once again miss the point entirely.