Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The collapse of culture: when the Vatican places David Bowie over Sir John Tavener

I originally posted a reflection over two years ago when Sir John Tavener died. I wish to add for readers their consideration the societal and cultural juxtaposition of Tavener to David Bowie. Obviously Bowie was a media creation to the degree that he was a match on the dry tinder that the 60s were. His death was followed by a predictable and world-wide campaign as to what a great artist and man he was. Again, predictable from a media that fed, approved and encouraged his sad sexual degeneracy, his "mainstreaming" the homosexual and bisexual subculture. In the end, Bowie was as much of a pawn as a leader in the 70s. 

The problem becomes much deeper when we see men such as Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi - Vatican head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and lesser lights such as James Martin SJ praising and offering tributes to this destructive man. The average, uneducated Catholic naturally will think: if these men are praising him, he can't be that bad, can he? 

Besides being a deviant, Bowie was not a great musical thinker; a few minutes listening to his songs portray either the usual pop simplicity or the harmonic chaos of an imaginative, but untrained and undisciplined mind. An excellent appraisal of this unthinking praise of Bowie the "artist" can be read at Restore DC Catholicism

On the contrary, if men and women of culture wish to praise a great musical figure, - who also tried to live a Christian life - they would do far better with John Tavener. He arguably was the  greatest British composer, since Vaughan Williams. On November, 12th, 2013, Sir John Tavener departed from this world, leaving us much great music. Tavener, reflected the best of Englishness; order, yet a dreamer... English, yet an European. The world saw the departure of a Christian and a gentleman. 

Of Tavener, from Ravasi, from the Vatican - not a word. It tells us a lot, doesn't it? 


1 comment:

elizabeth dulaney said...

David Bowie was a mainstream figure... i've only just this minute heard of John Tavener... neither David nor John were ever attracted to the Roman Catholic Church...

Tavener had been born Presbyterian, and in '77 switched to the Russian Orthodox Church, and some say later on he left even that to explore a number of other different religious traditions, including Hinduism and Islam, and become a follower of the Traditionalist philosopher, Frithjof Schuon. Two weeks or so before his death, he reiterated his Russian Orthodox stance, while still exploring other religions' music.

Bowie, on other hand, didn't profess any religion (other than trying Buddhism and studying under Chögyam Trungpa in the '60s) - in fact, he went so far as to say '...he was bothered by being "not quite an atheist" ', saying in an interview, "I'm in awe of the universe, but I don't necessarily believe there's an intelligence or agent behind it. I do have a passion for the visual in religious rituals, though, even though they may be completely empty and bereft of substance. The incense is powerful and provocative, whether Buddhist or Catholic."

The difference is this: Bowie was an international music/acting figure with no particular religious leanings, while Tavener was a Russian Orthodox, and English though he was, his religion was not only non-English, it was non-Catholic. Also, his composing was of very little interest to the world at large.