Amazing Quarrel: on the Latest Michael Voris’ Video

A great deal of excitement about a Michael Voris’ video concerning the beautiful song, “Amazing Grace”.

It seems to me that Voris is being unjustly criticised.

If you listen carefully to the video, Voris is not objecting to the song being sung by a Catholic. What he objects to, is the song being sung in Catholic churches, during Mass. I do not think we can blame him for this. Irrespective of every theological discussion about what is Protestant and what is not, it is a matter of common sense that a song whose theological content is questionable is better not sung during Mass. With two thousand years of musical and liturgical tradition at our disposal, the need is just not there.

In this respect, “Catholic answers” has the following Q & A:

Q: I’ve heard that the Protestant hymn “Amazing Grace” has lyrics that may not be in keeping with Catholic teaching. Which lyrics are ambiguous, and how they can be understood incorrectly?

A: “Amazing Grace” was written by the eighteenth-century Anglican sea-captain John Newton (1725–1807) in response to his conversion by grace from his life as a slave trader. These lyrics express his moment of conversion: “How precious did that grace appear / the hour I first believed.”

While not directly contrary to Catholic teaching, this lyric stands in tension with it because it appears to envision entry into the state of grace following the advent of belief, with no mention of the sacraments (in other words, in a “faith alone” fashion).

This sentiment can be reconciled with Catholic teaching because the grace of conversion indeed can be given at certain hours, causing a person to repent of a previously sinful life and re-embrace faith in Jesus Christ.

So, “Amazing Grace”: a)  it can be “reconciled”, but it stays “in tension”, and b) it is clearly inspired by Protestant thinking, but can be accepted – with a different interpretation – from a Catholic one.

Makes sense to me.

Of course, one might say that Voris is inflating the matter, and seeing “ecumenism” where there is possibly only appreciation for a beautiful song; one might also say that, at times, his laudable zeal leads him to be a bit over the top (“dress like Protestants”. What?). I must also say that “wretched sinner” is how I would define myself most days, and how I would most certainly feel if I were to kick the bucket in the next three seconds and to realise the extent of the offense my sins have created. But all in all, it seems to me that the excitement is not justified.

In the end, I’d say that Voris’ video has two messages, which are merely underpinned by the “amazing grace” argument which, as he says, is merely a symbol (or a symptom) of something else:

a) that the older generation of Catholics has been protestantised in greater measure than those coming from traditionally catholic Countries in central America, and a dangerous anti-Catholic theology has taken hold in the consciousness of many of them.

b) that the singing of “Amazing Grace” happens “under the banner of accommodation” to non-Catholics.

One can disagree with these points, but it seems to me that they are the real message of the video, and the example chosen by Voris just a concrete way of explaining the manifestation of the problem.

Michael Voris is a rather trenchant type (I like that); at times, I have the impression that he sets the accent on the wrong matters, or on matters that do not deserve such a heavy foot on the gas pedal; I can’t say that I always follow the logic of what he says (see above, in matters of dressing); but all in all, thank God for Michael Voris and Real Catholic TV.

Mundabor

Posted on July 22, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Mundabor:

    In regards to dress, I believe Voris is referring to lack of reverence displayed by the way in which people dress when they attend Mass. I used to attend Mass in a parish populated by 20 and 30 something professionals. The parking lot would be full of Mercedes, BMWs, Audis, Lexuses and other expensive cars. The people coming out of these cars would be dressed in t-shirts, jeans, shorts and flip-flops. I would bet that all of these people dressed much nicer for a date on Friday night or at their jobs during the week.

    I think another example of the protestantinazation of the Catholic Church in the US is the hand-holding or hand-raising during the Lord’s Prayer at NO Mass. This is clearly something that has been borrowed from the Protestants. Unfortunately, it appears that the hand-raising has crossed the Atlantic. I attended a Mass at the Vatican in 2006 (held at one of the side altars) and I noticed the hand-raising by some Italians attending the Mass.

    K

    • Thanks Kevin,

      I didn’t know Jeans and t-shirt were protestant, but it must a be a US thing.
      I thought he would mean “preppy”, because in the preacher’s transmission we see on tv in europe (Osteen, Joyce Meyers, the old “hour of power”) people tended to dress rather formally I think.

      I have never seen the hand-raising exercise you mention and I agree it must be a protestant thingy. I would say that those you have seen at the Vatican raising hands might have been Americans? Be it as it mat, yes: atrocious protestant gesture meant to celebrate the “group”. What I noticed here is that in Italy the sign of peace was always very subdued and “formal”, here in the UK there’ s – by “trendy” masses – a lot of exaggerate smiling, people embracing each other, people even moving to other pews to embrace other people. A bit of a circus, really.

      M

  2. Mundabor:

    As to dress, my guess is that he’s referring to the non-denominational churches geared toward the 20’s and 30’s crowd. They have very hip preachers (donning goatees), wearing jeans, coffee shops on the church grounds, etc. There is one of these churches in downtown Dallas and it has satellite churches in the suburbs. During Sunday (and Wednesday) services they transmit the services from the main church and show them on large screens on the satellite churches. It is all very hip, casual and modern.

    Don’t even get me started on the sign of peace. I’ve seen priests walk down the main aisle to shake the hands of people in the first few pews. Hugging is almost the new standard. In some parishes it is rather commonplace to see people cross the main aisle to shake hands or hug. I hate to admit it, but I was kind of happy during the flu hysteria a few years back – the hand holding and sign of peace became much more subdued for a period.
    K

  3. “I hate to admit it, but I was kind of happy during the flu hysteria a few years back – the hand holding and sign of peace became much more subdued for a period.”

    Oh well the intention was good.. 😉

    M

  4. If we were all properly cathecized, I’d not have a problem with Amazing Grace. It is a beautiful hymn, but yes, the words that grace enters the hour I first believe is a FALLACY. Grace is there at baptism as a wee infant.

    This leads a lot of Catholic young people, especially, with the impression that I’m really not that special until accept the Lord as my “personal savior”.

    The Protestantation of the Catholic Church in America is breathtaking.

    I don’t think dressing like a slob is a Protestant thing. I think the Protestants dressed nicely for church well into the 80s and the slob look took hold in the 70s among Catholics and their guitar Masses when a woman covering her head became a sign of freakdom.

    The music at the suburban Catholic parish closest to where I live is so puffed up and silly and banal I cringe in despair every time I hear it and look into the faces of the choir who of course are not in the non-existant choir loft, but right there taking up 1/2 of the sanctuary. They are all belting it out though. A Protestant revival!

    M. have you ever been to America? If not, you are in for a real sideshow in every aspect of our culture. The food, the churches, the bazooms, the girth of rear ends, the cars, the tatoos, the piercings, the muffin tops, the music, the billboards, the backroads, the deserted rural townscapes, the undeserted rural wastelands, the graffiti, the urban decay par excellence, the buffoon politicians, the amusements, the trailer parks, the suburban McMansions, etc–everything is really eye-popping. The Catholic Church and to be fair, mainstream Protestantism of the 18th, 19th and first 2/3 of the twentieth century imparted a measure of beauty, civilty and graciousnes to the American landscape–that is all gone now.

    • Hello Susie,

      I have been in the US several times, but always for business; I have therefore never “lived” the “real” country, I mean the one with the American flag on the garden and the like.

      M

  5. Well, I should qualify that I think an intrinsically evil result of Protestantism was the bible-thumping literal interpretaion that slavery was somehow just fine. That was not beautiful or gracious. I’m sure many a doctoral dissertation has been written about Protestantism’s relationship to slave-holding.

  6. Susie: Ah the choir in the Sanctuary. That reminds me of of Easter 2006. I had just returned from a very spiritual trip to Florence and Rome sponsored by the choir form the parish I was attending then. As I recall, we came back about a week before Easter. The Easter Morning Sevice had the musical group from the Sunday afternoon Mass (the guitar/folk mass)performing . There were about a dozen performers playing piano, guitars, tumpet, tambourine, flute, drums and those w/o instruments sang – everyone had their own microphone. If this weren’t bad enough, they proceeded to perform songs that were then popular on Protestant Christian radio. Other than being nearly impossible for the average parishioner in the pews to sing, the songs were hardly correct from the Catholic perspective. It was then that I sought out the Traditional Latin Mass.

    K

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