Sunday, November 21, 2010


When the Times Book Review killed my review of Dog on the Cross several years ago, I was irritated mostly because I found the fictional stories of Pentecostals in Oklahoma enlightening. Perhaps the Times took issue with the absence of the term happy-clappy.

About the same time of Dog on the Cross's publication, Mike Davis told me that Pentecostalism was the fastest growing religion in the world. I wondered if the Landmark Forum--the program whose leaders tell participants "hope is for suckers"--counts as a new religion. Happy-clappy, again, did not surface during that time.

This past week at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, happy-clappy came up during a brief conversation about liturgical music. The speaker was expressing her preference for music that is not happy-clappy, and, thus, for the kind of music regularly performed at Ignatius Loyola.

A recent concert there included a U.S. premiere of Canticum Canticorum (Song of Songs), a cantata by Viktor Kalabis composed in 1986. I missed this part of the concert but could still look over the texts, half of which were in Latin.

Maybe in a play, a woman who believes in almost nothing and a man who has all but given up on the unpixelated world joke around with the Song of Songs, reading to each other:

Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely.
Our bed is flourishing.

. . .

Stay me up with flowers, compass me about with apples:
because I languish with love.

. . .

Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come.
For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone.

dilectus meus mihi et ego illi qui pascitur inter lilia
donec adspiret dies et inclinentur umbrae
revertere similis esto dilecte mi capreae aut
hinulo cervorum super montes Bether

"Shouldn't it be 'mountains of 'spices'?" the man says.

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