Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interview with Larry Norman

I grew up in the faith listening to Contemporary Christian Music. It has been a help to me, and lately I'm becoming pretty jaded about it, and I don't even have access to much "in" news or anything. It's partly what reading Slice of Laodicea, A Little Leaven, and Pulpit Pimp$ will do to you.

The recently-gone-home Larry Norman did an interview on his music and the industry and his life, like 40 years ago. I commend it to your reading. Coulda been written yesterday.

16 comments:

Matthew Bellisario said...

I would have to say that this gentlemen was a very confused individual. Rock music cannot be "Christian". If we go back to the ancient philosophers, as well as many Christian philosophers we see that musical composition dictates whether or not it is to be considered virtuous. Harmony, melody and rhythm are the 3 components of a musical composition. Any music that uses a 4/4 rhythm derived from African/Voodoo origin is not virtuous, and "Christian" lyrics do not repair the loss of virtue. True art either rises or descends. There is no in between. You can read in more detail at Catholicchampion.com

http://www.catholicchampion.com/page30/page30.html

NAL said...

matthew: Any music that uses a 4/4 rhythm derived from African/Voodoo origin is not virtuous, and "Christian" lyrics do not repair the loss of virtue.

And which virtue, exactly, has been lost?

Matthew Bellisario said...

I am speaking of the music itself and whether it disposes us to virtue or vice. You can read the full context of my post in my article on my website. it is a bit lengthly to post here. Thanks

http://www.catholicchampion.com/page30/page30.html

NAL said...

Matthew: I soon saw it for what is it was, demonic music ...

When you apply adjectives, like demonic, virtuous, and immoral, to inanimate objects, like sound waves; can you understand how silly that sounds to a rational mind?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Nal says, "When you apply adjectives, like demonic, virtuous, and immoral, to inanimate objects, like sound waves; can you understand how silly that sounds to a rational mind?"

Nal, obviously have no clue as to what music is. You obviously go against most of the moral philosophers in history as well. If you are not going to be rational and look at the documented evidence I have brought forth, then you are the irrational one not I. All art has a moral character to it since it is composed by people who also have character. The sound waves are orchestrated in a particular order as to communicate a melody, harmony and rhythm. So obviously it is not just a random sound wave. Try doing some research on the subject before making such rash comments with no support to back them up. Making a two line comment like this has no substance, and you do not understand what music is.

John Morales said...

Matthew, I'm sure NAL is aware of the psychology of music.

Unlike you, NAL does not reify music, and is concise in expression.

Matt said...

Any music that uses a 4/4 rhythm derived from African/Voodoo origin is not virtuous, and "Christian" lyrics do not repair the loss of virtue...All art has a moral character to it since it is composed by people who also have character

While I dislike much of modern contemporary Christian music (mainly for lyrical reasons), I must say that I find this argument extremely suspect. So, because pagans in Africa play music with a certain beat, that beat is therefore immoral to play? What if someone else had discovered that rhythm independently of its pagan context in Africa? Suppose that pagans had invented the typewriter to preserve spells and incantations. By this line of reasoning, one would say that a typewriter has moral character, because it is created and used by people that have moral character. Therefore, since the typewriter (in this hypothetical universe) was created for use by pagans for pagan purposes, it is immoral for us to use.

The problem with this argument, is that it takes the thing being used for a certain moral purpose out of its moral context, which is, in this instance, certain tribal rhythms being used in the context of pagan ceremonies. The ceremony itself is the moral problem, since it is the worship of a false god (more than likely a demon - 1 Cor. 10:21), and once removed from the context of the pagan worship, the various things (which are amoral in themselves) that might be used in the worship assume an amoral value. Paul addressed a similar situation concerning meat sacrificed to idols. In the context of the ceremony, to eat the meat was to participate in the worship of the idol, but the meat is just meat - it is amoral in and of itself, and thus, to eat meat sacrificed to an idol outside of the context of the ceremony is perfectly fine, because it is just meat, and outside of the problematic moral context (1 Cor. 10:25-26). Thus, while I object to certain rhythms and musical styles as being distracting to a proper attitude of worship, such things are not immoral in and of themselves, just because they were invented by pagans in Africa.

Matthew Bellisario said...

I would have to disagree with you and side with the great moral thinkers of history. I would have to say that any music that goes against the natural rhythm of the body connot be considered virtuous. One must understand the fundamentals of music and its components that make it such. If one does not understand the theory of harmony, melody, rythm and key signature I would suspect this kind of response. That is fine, we are all entitled to our opinions.

I however would have to agree with Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Chrysostom, Bede, etc, etc and their views on the morality of the arts. There are also many modern experts on music who also agree on it as well, such as David Tame, Fr Basil Nortz etc. The rhythm, harmony, melody and key signature composition can indeed render music in opposition to virtue, and therfore disposing its listeners to erotic passions. It is obvious that certain beats bypass the intellect and go stright to the body in its effect. Unfortunately many today completely dismiss the ancient philospohers on morality and siding with the liberalism of our age. I guess we will agree to disagree on this one.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"By this line of reasoning, one would say that a typewriter has moral character, because it is created and used by people that have moral character. Therefore, since the typewriter (in this hypothetical universe) was created for use by pagans for pagan purposes, it is immoral for us to use."

You must not have read my 3 part essay on this subject since your reasoning here is flawed. I never said the instruments themselves were evil, which is what your typewriter comparison implies. Just as someone can compose an illicit letter or document on a typerwriter, someone can compose illicit music on instruments. Your argument here is not based on my argument. Please read my full essay and you will see what I am talking about.

NAL said...

Matthew: Unfortunately many today completely dismiss the ancient philospohers on morality and siding with the liberalism of our age.

Like the liberalism that provides for Freedom of Expression, enshrined in the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights. I side with the Constitution. I also like to make up my own mind about morality. If that puts me at odds with the ancients, so be it. I consider morality to be conforming to a certain code of conduct for human beings. It does not apply to dogs, acts of nature, or rocks.

The 13th Apostle said...

Matthew should refrain from pimping his website. Jesus forbade it.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Anonymous The 13th Apostle said...

Matthew should refrain from pimping his website. Jesus forbade it.


What? Either put up or get lost. These websites are for blogging and debating. And there were only 12 apostles, Jesus said so...?? Wow, people these days.

The 13th Apostle said...

You must reacquaint yourself with the holy scriptures:

Those men who pimpeth their websites have committed a grave abomination. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy the internets.
Ezekiel 25:17

Paul C said...

Matthew - I've read your essay. I don't mean to be rude, but you don't appear to know very much about music, and I'm not entirely sure that you know much more about philosophy. Statements such as "If you listen to a modern jazz piece such as Mile Davis’ Bitches Brew, you will hear an utter chaotic movement of music" suggest that you are completely unaware of the musical structures that underpinned the development of jazz in the 1970s.

The "uplifting" sense that you believe characterises "virtuous" music - well, I don't find it in Monteverdi, but I do find it in Miles Davis. Perhaps you should revisit your essay in light of the idea that different people have different tastes. On the other hand, I think we can all agree that Britney Spears is a waste of good recording facilities. Except for "Don't Hang Up", which for some reason I find myself singing occasionally.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"I'm not entirely sure that you know much more about philosophy. Statements such as "If you listen to a modern jazz piece such as Mile Davis’ Bitches Brew, you will hear an utter chaotic movement of music" suggest that you are completely unaware of the musical structures that underpinned the development of jazz in the 1970s."

I am well aware of the history of music. An I am well aware of the components that make up a musical composition. I have been playing for most of my life. Musical tastes have nothing to do with this discussion. People can have a propensity to enjoy sin, but that does not make good. People can also enjoy music that disposes them to vice and not virtue. This has nothing to do with the argument. I have brought forth sources in my essay to substantiate my position. All I have received here in opposition to my essay are mere opinions with no substance using personal taste and person feelings as the substance to counter my argument. Just because you find find Miles Davis more enjoyable to listen to doesn't make that music virtuous, just as someone who enjoys bad literature cannot make the literature virtuous. Someone may very well be more uplifted by reading the Satanic bible rather that the real Bible, but what does that prove? Obviously not a thing. Music has a moral disposition to it based on its composition of harmony, melody, rhythm and key signature. If you don;t get that, then you are not going to to be able to even engage in this discussion. I think my work here is done. God bless..

Paul C said...

Nobody is disputing that music has an effect on people, but you singularly fail in your essay to make a connection between musical structure and moral virtue. You say that Monteverdi "disposes the listener to a peaceful and hopeful state of mind and soul" - that's an expression of your personal taste, which makes your rejection of other peoples' arguments on similar grounds particularly ironic.

You are clearly in thrall not just to Plato, but to the Platonic idealism which was smuggled into Christianity (incidentally, Rhology is a victim of this as well, judging by his moral theories). Listen well, then, since Plato also stated that "the introduction of a new kind of music must be shunned as imperiling the whole state" - which means that he would have rejected all the music that you believe so virtuous.

There is nothing in your essay that demonstrates the links you hope for - all you do is make dramatic enunciations about your personal belief, and then condemn a particular type of music. I'm afraid that you will find few people prepared to debate your essay, simply because it does not put forward any coherent arguments.