Thursday, April 21, 2011


Bustles...model T cars...manual typewriters...electric typewriters...any kind of typewriter...the list could go on and on.

What do these things have in common? They are all obsolete. According to the American Heritage Dictionary (the online one, not the obsolete print version), the definition of obsolete is

1) no longer in use: an obsolete word.
2) outmoded in design, style, or construction: an obsolete locomotive.

Wikipedia says obsolete means "a service or practice (a person?) that is no longer wanted even though it (she?) may still be in good working order.

Today I am feeling obsolete. Why, you might well ask? I just came from our weekly all-school Chapel. It's Spiritual Impact Week, and it's been a great experience for me, and I hope that's true for the students, too. I've enjoyed the small groups with students and the Prayer Walk yesterday, but today's worship left me feeling... obsolete.

Worship here at my school consists of "praise" songs, most of which I do not know. That's because I attend a church service that utilizes the hymn book (perhaps obsolete, too?) with the music notated (definitely obsolete in praise worship) and the lyrics printed. That's also how I grew up: singing from the hymnal.

I'm not here, per se, to discuss the pros and cons of praise music, just to say that because I do not know or enjoy this type of music, I often feel obsolete. I also feel excluded from worship. This genre of music does nothing to help me feel closer or connected to God. Frankly, I dislike having my senses assaulted while worshipping by the banging of drums and the twanging of guitars. To say that I've seldom heard praise music done well is not an exaggeration; however, ANY kind of music not done well is distracting to me, especially in worship. (Guess you now know I how I feel about praise music, eh?)

Sometimes I am concerned that one day I will not be able to find a church that could be described as "traditional"; that is, one that observes the liturgical year, uses the liturgy, and the hymn books that are in the pews. I enjoy those older hymns, and it saddens me to think that many of our youth will never know the joys of the "Old Rugged Cross", or "How Great Thou Art" (unless it's that jazzed up version, which I do not like, and that has been crammed into a triple meter!). And what about "Holy, Holy, Holy" ? Gotta be one of my all-time favorites: "God in three persons, blessed Trinity." Note with me, please, the sheer poetry in "The Church's One Foundation":

"Yet she (the church) on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won..."

Eat your heart out, Mr. Shakespeare!

But it saddens me even more to think that I might not be able to sing those hymns of faith in a church building because they (the hymns) are becoming obsolete. Sure, I can sing them myself, but there is something about the body of Christ singing together. Charles & John Wesley knew, didn't they? A good description of what constitutes quality congregational singing can be found in the forward to the United Methodist Hymnal. Dear Wesley brothers, I fear you, too, are obsolete.

In an episode of "The Twilight Zone" entitled "The Obsolete Man", a librarian (convincingly portrayed by Burgess Meredith) is found to be obsolete due to the fact that books are banned in that society and literacy is considered obsolete. His punishment? Death. Now this is a little scary, too, because not only am I a musician, but also a librarian. In an plot twist enviable of O'Henry, the ending deliciously satisfies those of us who also might be considered obsolete. books...books themselves (alas! the Kindle!)...Obsolete? If so, then I, too, have become obsolete.


Bob Tankersley said...

Belinda, I really enjoyed this post. I read it when you posted it earlier, but just now getting around to commenting.

First of all, you are not obsolete! When I was still teaching here in KY, I missed you and your role every time I went into the travesty that was our media center. I miss you every time I go into our local libraries, where "help" seems to fall by the wayside.

About the church music though, I'm with you. We struggle with that constantly here. We've come to accept that some worship services are basically concerts, and we can be ok with that. But even in attending a local Episcopal church, and learning to enjoy the liturgical style, it is done poorly and without feeling.

And don't get me started on the need for etiquette classes!

Library Lady said...

Thanks, Bob, for your comments. I never fail to enjoy whatever you write, and your post here is no exception.

It's just that I feel so passionate about music, and in particular church music. I am nostalgic for some traditions that I see rapidly fading away -- before eyes!

Etiquette. Yet another obsolete thing...sad to say...

Guess I didn't realize you were attending an Epsicopal church. Good for you. I'd THINK they'd have "good" music, but maybe obsolesence has even reached the Episopacy.