Hi! I've invented another blog series that will probably be canceled after two episodes, Viva Laughlin style. It's called "Things I'm Not Serious About But Am Totally Serious About." These are things/ideas/practices I've joked about instituting that I would never actually institute but would totally institute if I could. Probably. Here's the pilot episode:
The Chanting License:
Early on in my seminary education, I took a class called Lutheran Worship. Lutheran Worship was a class intended to teach you how Lutherans have worshiped, how they do worship, how they should worship, etc... It's a nice class. I really, really, really enjoyed it.
Although, in fairness, if it hadn't been for one specific session of the class, I would have only really enjoyed it. The two extra reallys come from the session where we practiced chanting. You see, many of the men in my class were not what one might call chanters. Nor would you call them singers. Nor would you even call them people who have any business attempting to make a musical note come out of their mouths. And so, when these men were required to stand in front of the class and chant solo-style a few lines from the order of Matins, it was horrible. Like Carl Lewis National Anthem horrible. And thus, it was really, really funny.
Like horrifically funny. One of the funniest things I've ever witnessed in my life. On a couple of occasions, I had to bury my face in my hands to muffle my laughter. (I laugh at the embarrassment of others. I'm sort of a jerk that way.) And while spending the better part of that half hour smelling the wrinkles in my palms, I thought to myself, you really should need a license to chant.
By and large, I like chanting. It's an auditory way of highlighting words, of drawing attention to them and enhancing their importance. But that only happens if the chanting is done well. If it's done poorly, people don't listen to the words at all. Instead, they just wonder if the pastor realizes how bad he is and then worry that no one else is going to have the guts to tell the guy that he needs to stop immediately because he's making even the unborn children cry.
So here's my solution to that problem that I'm not serious about but am totally serious about. Before graduating from the seminary, you are given a chanting test. You either pass or you fail. If you pass, then you get your chanting license and you may chant in your congregation. Chant boldly. Go on with your bad self. But if you fail the test, you get no such license and you may not chant. Ever. It doesn't matter if you're called to First Nosebleed High Lutheran Church of the Immaculate Chasuble. It doesn't matter if your chanting will broker peace in the middle east or hasten the Second Coming. No chanting under any circumstances ever, ever, ever for as long as you live and then two weeks after you're dead.
I'm thinking of sending a formal request to the academic deans of our seminaries. Just kidding. But not really.
My name is Pastor Hans Fiene. Thanks for reading.