Archive for the ‘Fred Bock’ Tag

Narcissistic Religion and Solipsistic Fare   1 comment

Hymns for the Family of God Title Page

Above:  The Title Page of My Copy of Hymns for the Family of God (1976)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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nar-cis-sism.  n.  1.  Excessive love or admiration of oneself.  See Synonyms at conceit.

sol-ip-sism.  n. Philosophy.  1. The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified.  2.  The theory that the self is the only reality.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.  3d. Ed.  Boston, MA:  Houghton Mifflin Company,  1992.

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Ira Sankey (1840-1908) was a musician, an editor of collections of gospel songs, and an evangelistic partner of Dwight Moody.

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Hymns for the Living Church Cover

Above:  The Cover of My Copy of Hymns for the Living Church (1974)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Most of us, given a sufficient lifespan and the opportunities to pursue interests, collect something.  I collect hymnals and books of worship, among other things.  Some of these come via online purchases, but I find most of them at thrift stores.  Others are gifts.  My hymnal collection alone stands at about a hundred volumes.  Most of these are denominational resources, but a few are not.  Among these are Hymns for the Living Church (1974) and Hymns for the Family of God (1976).  These books disturb me.  The proportion of low-quality contemporary hymns is bad, as is the overdose of the first person singular in the texts.  This points to one of the excesses and errors of much of Evangelicalism.

That is my wording.  Morgan F. Simmons, writing in 1990, makes my point much more eloquently and expands on it, however:

Two of the most popular non-Presbyterian Hymnals in current use are Hymns for the Living Church published in 1974 by Hope Publishing Company and edited by Donald P. Hustad and Hymns for the Family of God published two years later by Paragon Associates and edited by Fred Bock.  Both of these hymnals include a far larger proportion of hymns that express personal piety than would be found in any of the denominational books.  The latter book has an unusually large number of contemporary texts and tunes of the same ilk begun by Ira D. Sankey:  theologically thin and musically vapid.  It is beyond the scope of this study to determine the effect of these and other numerous examples of narcissistic religion, but one wonders how how the mission of the church or the commands of Jesus Christ can be accomplished when congregations are offered such solipsistic fare as one finds here.

–“Hymnody:  Its Place in Twentieth-Century Presbyterianism,” pages 162-186, in Milton J. Coalter, John M. Mulder, and Louis B. Weeks, eds., The Confessional Mosaic:  Presbyterians and Twentieth-Century Theology (Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990), page 182

Judaism, from which my native Christianity sprang, places a healthy emphasis on community, for what one person does affects others.  We, the Jewish texts tell us, are responsible to and for each other.  This ethic was prominent in early Christianity.  It remains strong in most of Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism and those offshoots which remain similar to it in crucial ways.  The decision to situate oneself in the context of the larger “we” is responsible and healthy.  Hence good religion does make the first person singular the center of anything.  No, God belongs there.  Next comes the larger “we.”  This is a theocentric and communitarian model, one free of coercion on one hand and reckless disregard for others on the other hand.  It is a wonderful model.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 8, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPHINE BAKHITA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF MALTA AND FELIX OF VALOIS, FOUNDERS OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEROME EMILIANI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF WINFIELD SCOTT HANCOCK, U.S. ARMY GENERAL