“Come As You Are”

A story at First Thoughts this week about people wearing Hooters t-shirts to mass stirred a debate in the comments section: should or shouldn’t people come to church dressed however they want?  There were some strong words on both sides.

A few miles from my house is one of those huge non-denominational fellowship churches.  It looks like a nice place that does good for people.  They have a big sign outside with a picture of casually dressed people, and it reads, “Come as you are!”  Of course, the models in the picture are dressed in professional-models-at-work casual (polos, solid colored t-shirts, new jeans, etc.), not real life causal (stained wife beaters, torn sweat pants, Hooters t-shirts). 

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Sunday Afternoons With Bach

I’ve listened to several works of classical music this summer that are new to me, but I don’t think I’ve liked any of them more than I have these two pieces by Bach, his St. Matthew Passion and Mass in B Minor.  They’re quite long and I’ve only heard each once, so I can’t write about them in any meaningful detail; all I can say is that I like how they sound.

What’s struck me the most about them is their pervasive, ubiquitous piety.  These two major works by one of music’s great masters are also artifacts of pure faith, resonating with reverence in every note.  Like his contemporary Handel’s Messiah (a couple of individual pieces from which are familiar to everybody), both of these are suffused with the sublime and elevate praise to that refined plane of existence known as art.  Truly moving.  In fact, the first time I listened to St. Matthew Passion, one of my main impressions was, I should listen to this on Sunday afternoons

I’ve also learned this summer what  a great classical music tool YouTube can be.  Not just private interpretations, but frequently entire concerts, in full orchestra, are archived there, in versions of exquisitely professional quality.  Not only that, but longer works such as these two are usually available for viewing on a playlist, where the bite-sized clips apparently required by YouTube can be strung together in a continuous order for nearly seamless enjoyment.  Press “play all” and enjoy your night at the symphony, or your pleasant Sabbath afternoon.