Church as Candy Fest

The argument over ‘styles” of worship is perrenial and is doomed to go on forever, because it is an argument among children about what form the sugar should take.

Either everything abstract reduces to the Personal, or everything personal reduces to the mechanical. I’m assuming becasue you are reading about worship styles you will go with number 1. Therefore, all modes of beauty are emergent properties of Holiness. Music, color, proportion, even the thrill of joy itself — all emerge organically from a deeper ground of personality. They capture our attention and to them we attach ourselves and forget their source, which is God’s visage and voice.

Ground, source…I use these terms but let’s remember the governing rule of talking about God: Thou shalt not marry a spatial metaphor.

Because I don’t mean to connote hierarchies, but rather to denote sequence. Ontological heirarchy implies more and less reality, but we can’t say that the substance is real while the accidents are less real. The emergent properties, obtruding as they do from a ground, are not less important. In the Christian universe, where God became flesh, there are not levels of reality nor a hierarchy of importance: all importance is in all things, because God cared enough to make and redeem them. In the biblical vision the incarnation shattered all spatial diagrams: gone is the Greek sphere with God-rays demiurg-ing out and down from a center; gone is the tribal pyramid with a great eye at the point and slaves around the base. Rather, the Hebrew vision redeems the nooks and crannies of space – even the bits in the horses mouths are “holiness to the Lord” — by fixing time. There is a sequence.

And the Hebrew mind is concerned to honor the sequence. Error originates in forgetting what came before. God is He Who Is, and praise is owed Him because all else is second. The idol is a pretender to be First. Eve is not less than Adam (indeed, she may be substantiveky more); she helps him simply because he is first, and she is second.

So: God speaks first and His voice is effulgent with the many beauties. The church is second; she helps by breaking out in song. The church finds that helping the First is ecstacy and then wants to do it again. Helping feels sweet.

But the point is to hear Him again, not to eat the sweets; His voice is perpetually first, the beauties are perpetually second. The Word is the food; all else is condimental.

A common response to hunger, among children, is to eat yet more empty calories, which leads to greater hunger.

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