**Content Warning: Contains discussion about sexual abuse & violence**
Questions for the Week:
Rev. Chris Shelton, Pastor, Broadway Presbyterian Church
Who decides the music that is used for church each week? Is it the pastor, worship leader, or choir director? How does that get planned so that everything connects to the themes for each week's scripture readings and sermons?
Sing No Empty Alleluias
00:03 – Simon Doong
Hello and welcome to a matter of faith a presby podcast, the podcast where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question, because if it matters to you, it matters to us. And it just might be a matter of faith,
00:21 – Lee Catoe
whether it be faith in God, faith and others or faith in yourself. We are brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and unfound the interactive journal on Christian social justice for the Presbyterian Church USA. I am your host, Lee Catoe.
00:38 – Simon Doong
And I'm your host Simon Doong
00:41 – Lee Catoe
Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions.
00:46 – Simon Doong
Well, hello everyone, welcome again to another episode of a matter of faith of presby podcast. You all can't see this but Lee has a very nice shirt on today. It's he's Lee is representing the young adult volunteer program which we've talked about before on this podcast a program that uh, has played a major role in both of our lives and you know, I didn't even know they had that shirt in blue. Lee, I might have to talk to the YAV office about getting myself one of those.
01:17 – Lee Catoe
So nice, so nice. presby blue, I think is the the term for it. But yeah, that's a great baseball shirt. Wonderful. three quarter length sleeves. Yeah, it's wonderful. I'm not a big fan of white shirts because they get dirty, but perfect fall weather. Yeah, perfect. And no, it's going to be fall as fall last we're recording this. Right now it is we are have approach the autumn equinox. And we are here. We are here in the fall, and the weather is going to be that way. It's gonna be like 70s all week.
01:51 – Simon Doong
Yeah, I am grateful for that. I like some fall weather I especially can't wait for when the leaves start changing color. My favorite color is orange. By the way, in case anyone didn't know that. So fall is very, very meaningful to me.
02:07 – Lee Catoe
The colors or the colors will be coming. So my dog is here with me today. Just sitting right here, and I'm pretty sure I'll have to put him on the floor here in a minute. Because he gets anxious. And he's always he gets bored very easily, y'all. So yeah, but he's here with me. So Rupert says hello to the audience.
02:30 – Simon Doong
Hi, Rupert. And you know, that's all good. You know why? Because here on a matter of faith, we like to embrace diversity. But, but based on some of the questions that we got in today, it may seem that the Emmy Awards may not be embracing diversity Lee, nope. Our first question for today reads, “so the Emmy Awards were presented a few weekends ago, and a record number of people of color, were nominated for awards. But white actors swept all 12 major acting awards. I remember a few years ago, the Oscars were given flack for not having diverse nominees, or winners. Remember, #Oscars so white? It seems that the Emmys have not quite gotten there. What are your thoughts?”
03:23 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, they weren't they didn't get there. And and there were a lot of people of color nominated. And yeah, it it was an interesting demographic, and not just within the nominations or the awards. It was like, some of the winners, most, like pretty much all of them being white man. I mean, not all of the winners were white man. But there were a couple of white man, you know how they play the music to get you to get off stage because of production, timing, all this other kind of stuff, right?
03:59 – Simon Doong
The shoe off the stage music?
04:02 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, you like, like we have a time limit and you need to get off the stage. Well, there were a couple of man in that, that challenge that and it's specifically one who won for I think it was a writing award, they won for the Queen's gambit. And the guy was like, Oh, just turn that off, whatever. I'm not listening to that, blah, blah. And while he was doing this as a white man, while he was doing this, there were indigenous folk on the stage that just introduced this award, saying that television is being more diverse than ever law. And about indigenous people being empowered to take up more space and television, and writing and things like that. And this white dude keeps going on and on and on and on and on, and taking up so much space in the presence of these native people who are doing this work. Hold on Simon.
05:01 – Simon Doong
And that was Rupert's cue to get off stage.
05:07 – Lee Catoe
Right, as the states right and have to close the door. But yeah, there was, it was just an interesting like visual and I think one of our colleagues Denise Anderson mentioned that on social media that image and that and and as I like thought about that Austin Steven Kobe air kind of did the same thing. And then like they're they always present a governor's award and I went to Debbie Allen, who is who was obviously world renowned choreographer, actress, producer, director, who also challenged this timing but but that is a woman, a black woman, challenging something that is, who does Who, who, who, in the status quo has not been able or empowered to have space within this kind of realm of thinking. So a lot of the a lot of things were going on at the Emmys that I think Hollywood has a lot of explaining to do. While also clouding it and veiling it in like, we have become so diverse.
06:14 – Simon Doong
Yeah, I was reading that 44% of the acting nominations went to people of color, but then none of the awards did. And when you have 44% of your nominees being people of color, you would think at least one of them will probably get a get an award. But it seems that that wasn't the case. It's interesting, because the Emmys also they did increase diversity and other ways. I believe Cedric, the entertainer was the host. There was some diversity in the presenters. But I think there Yeah, there needs to be some conversation about if the main event doesn't go the whole way, in turn, in terms of actually awarding awards to people of color, it can feel like an empty gesture, or add diversity, or an inauthentic effort to just sort of use people of color as sort of a showpiece as something to look at, but not not something that would actually be honored in the same way. You know, it's interesting, because these awards aren't even chosen by an individual person. There's usually an academy of many people voting on this. And I don't know what the I don't know what the demographic breakdown of the Academy is, in an in a time, especially when, you know, this question says, The Oscars got a ton of flack, a couple of years back. And then the following year, I believe it was Bong Joon Ho's parasite, like did really well. And there was clearly more diversity in not just the nominees, but in the awards themselves. And so I hope that you know, the Emmys takes note of this for the future. And hopefully will award more to people of color moving forward. And I when I say that, I don't mean Oh, just give it to someone because they're a person of color. But like, those people are nominated because they're all the best of the best. So let's not tokenize folks, but let's also make sure that we're actually honoring the diversity of talent that is given out each year in our in our television programming throughout, you know, throughout the previous year in the previous season. So yeah, I hope I hope they do better. The Oscars seem to have trended that direction so hopefully the Emmys will follow suit.
08:35 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, and, and we will I mean, I don't want to discount like Michaela Cole won for Best Writing. And I think it was a Miniseries or Anthology, I think that language for may destroy you. And that land right there that that. And Michaela Cole is a black woman from the UK, who wrote this amazing just the writing is amazing in this show the story it's based off as semi based off of her own her own experience of surviving sexual violence and abuse. And when she won that speech that actually followed that white man that took up so much time for the Queen's gambit, and just that also that image of someone articulating their, what they want to express into the world the way in which she did, and claiming that space, and there's a picture of Cynthia Revo and Michaela Cole Cynthia is like embracing her and saying something into her ear and kind of studying and like, being there for her and like, being so genuinely like, like it was a very empowering moment. And so I don't want to discount that either, because Michaela Cole is well deserving of all the writing in that show, because I don't remember shows that often. But that is one show that I will not forget, like, I remember what happened. And I remember the scenes. And I remember those stories because it was so powerful. And so I don't want to discount that, or are the the writers of color on like Ted lasso, or on different shows, and I love Ted lasso. But it is very white. It is, the people who watch it, it is very Anglo, you know, but there are writers of color. And there are people of color on that cast, that are also well deserving. And so I don't want to discount that either. But I do think the overall aura of it was, we are diverse, but when it comes down to it, you know, you don't, we can't follow through. And so yeah, I also hope that they kind of get it together, and just rethinking awards in general, because I feel like if they keep going on this trend, these awards shows are just gonna be kind of irrelevant, and nobody's not gonna care. And it's just going to be whatever, that people are winning them. But I do yeah, I had to lift up Michaela Cole, because that show this wonderful,
11:22 – Simon Doong
Yeah, we love to see good moments of, I don't know if it would be ally ship and companionship and just standing with someone in a moment of, frankly, a moment of triumph. But still, in the same way that you can stand with people in their moment of, of not weakness, but maybe a moment where someone feels down, or a moment where someone you know, is not in a position of power recognition. You can also stand with them when they are in a moment of recognition in the same way. And so it's great to see that on screen on stage for for for everyone to see, because it's a great example of seeing that it's possible. And so I hope that people take that away from that moment as well.
12:03 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, so Emmys get it together, we'll move on to our next question. This question is based off of a Washington Post piece that of course will link if everybody wants to read it. But our question reads, “a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post's was released. Here's why college guys commit sexual assaults. They don't realize our assaults. It describes how we are entering the hot zone or the period between the start of the college semester and Thanksgiving break, during which more than 50% of campus sexual assaults occur. The author discusses how our culture creates conditions where good guys can commit assault, and not realize it. What do you think about this?”
12:53 – Simon Doong
Well, first of all, this opinion piece by Kate Cohen, I highly recommend that folks do check it out. Because it is really interesting. It is very insightful. And it's it's well written. So I want to I want to give a shout out to Kate Cohen for the for the piece first. And Kate includes some stats from some reports in this in this bit, which are kind of I mean, kind of sad. For example, more than an estimated quarter of all undergraduate women will experience non consensual sexual contact while in college, more than one in four. That is really sad. And so just want folks to sit with that. And I'm also going to, I'm going to share a brief quote from the piece as well, because I think it's it has some implications for the church. So Kate says the redzone wouldn't exist if it were composed only of bad guys and alcohol. Even people who know better are acting within a culture that too often treats affirmative consent as a joke, teaches straight women that their first sexual priority is pleasing men, and presumes men are sexual aggressors, and women are sexual gatekeepers. Oh, and that sex is something too private and embarrassing to talk about with our children, with our students, and even with prospective sexual partners. Under these conditions, it's not too hard to understand why guys who don't think they're bad guys commit assaults, they don't realize our assaults. And the reason I think that this is pretty has some implications for the church is that we don't really talk about patriarchy, that often in the church space. And we definitely don't talk about sex. And it as a result of not talking about it, we feed the perception that sex is taboo, that you can't or should not talk about it. And I think that part That is tied up in the whole, you know, conversation around. If you acknowledge sex out that sex, if you acknowledge or to talk about sex outside of marriage, that's already something that like you shouldn't be talking about because it's already controversial and uncomfortable. But the fact of the matter is that we it's something that we all know happens as well. And even sex within marriage isn't really a topic of conversation in church, we just have so much taboo around it. So if you have a culture that perpetuates sexualization of women, and then also perpetuates male privilege, male dominance, patriarchy, misogyny, you know, you can name a bunch of things there. And then in the church, we're not saying anything about it, because it's taboo, or it's it's private business, it's between the people involved, or it's too awkward. We're not really ever going to change anything. And that's not even really getting at the fact that things like patriarchy exists within the church as well. And this also doesn't even touch on the fact that there are relationships and experiences that are very real, that are not heterosexual cisgendered centered experiences and relationships. So I just want to put that out there for folks to think about.
16:16 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, and, and I think that I mean, if you talk to campus ministers, and I have experience in doing Campus Ministry a lot this comes up, and that the church thinks that, you know, it's not coming up it is and we have people who are in the church that are dealing with this and who are helping, you know, people walk through these experiences and finding people help. And so I think it is something that we have to start talking about, specifically with young folk and the church that don't often get the education or get to have an open space with people to talk about anything like this. And so how, yeah, how would you have a conversation when it is such a still such a taboo thing to talk about in the church, but I also think that i think i think the church also needs to be careful, and that who are leading those discussions, I mean, there are there are people and churches everywhere, that also perpetuate sexual assault and participate in it. And I think the church has been a a part of this. And so I think there also needs to be very careful conversations about that, too. But I also think we have to have a culture where man and those who abused our power over someone have to be held accountable, but also have to be held accountable in a way that changes the behavior. It is, it is something that I think it takes a long time. It's a culture that takes a long time. But I do think we have to figure out how to hold people accountable in ways that actually changes behavior. And I'm glad that this this article talks about, it's not just and there are stereotypes portrayed in media, there's their stereotypes portrayed in, you know, in many ways that kind of paint what a sexual abuser looks like. And I think we have to get past that too. And that, that, that that should never be like that should never be a space for us to to hold certain people accountable, and not others, specifically on a college campus, or anywhere, really. So I think that's very important. Because there's a racial element to this, there is a gender element to this that I don't think in any way we should discount. all genders being sexually assaulted or, or anything like that, because it does happen. A lot of the places it does happen in many in many forms. But I do think, yeah, to be intentional about it, is to talk about it, and also to be upfront about it, because people are suffering from it after the fact. And also what is the church doing about, you know, after it happens, therapies and, you know, finding ways to holistically heal people. So I think this has a lot to say to the church, and we should just get over this whole idea that we shouldn't be talking about sex. Sex is in the Bible. rape is in the Bible. We don't talk about that. rape is in there a lot. And so it is within our tradition, and if we can talk about that and deconstruct that and also named that that's awful, that violence is awful. And and actually there is someone I went to school with who just wrote about this and we may put this link in well we'll put this link in The show notes. Dr. Susanna, Larry wrote a book about sexual abuse, or trauma and domestic abuse and the Bible. And I think that would be very, very helpful for everybody to read. So we'll definitely put that link up there. But I think it takes more than just reading to actually take it is taking your wrist to mention it, because this is happening in people's churches, it's happening, and people's campus ministries, it's just happening all around. And so we have to get over that. And, yeah, have to get over it.
20:34 – Simon Doong
Yeah. And I really appreciate that this article, sort of really hammers home, that you can be a good guy, and still inadvertently do something that is assault, that is a violation of boundaries, and not be aware of it, because of the way that we've been conditioned by the by culture by media, to not even recognize certain signs of it in a situation that like, Oh, this is uncomfortable for that person that does not qualify as consent, you know, this person is not able to control themselves right now, because of X number of substances or whatever else. And it's important to always remember that you need to, you need to be on the lookout you need to be in, you still need to be having some intentional conversation. Throughout all of that, in the church space, we're not always good at being able to model what that intentional conversation looks like, because we can't even bring the topic up in church.
21:39 – Lee Catoe
So yeah, you can't, and you, and there's not, there's not a lot of permission there, you know, like from leadership, or, and I also want to say like, you know, just because you intended something does not equal what that person receives from it. And so I think we should all take that posture, and really listen and really take in that what you intend something that doesn't matter. Like, it doesn't matter what you intended as what that came out of that action, and how it affected that person. And how it traumatize that person, you can, you can claim intent all day long. But when it comes down to it, another person has been harmed and traumatized, because there wasn't space within a decision that you made to step back and say, I shouldn't do that, because that is not consensual. That is how, like, there's, there's so many things that should go through your mind before you make an action before you do something. And that is where those conversations happen amongst. And no woman, no person that is that identifies, you know, beyond a hetero normative male identity, should be teaching somebody something like that, like us, me, US got us, people who identify as man or male, and give in to that hetero normativity. And I'm saying that as a queer person, because I give in to that, too. And as queer people are not off the hook, when it comes to this, I want to mention that to you not off the hook. Nobody really is. But if you're not if we're not having intense conversations about consent, and those decisions you make before an action with someone else, that's the problem. That's where we need to have conversations. So So yeah, I think it's, I think it's a deeper, yeah. Because everyone's affected by these heteronormative norms, queer people, people, like people of color, white folk, you know, everybody has this has it within them. And we have to have, we have to do the job of deconstructing it for ourselves, how it manifests in our own communities, and going from there to now,
I just want to reiterate that if people aren't able to have the conversation about things like this in churches and community spaces, in the end, the burden to try to deal with the situation will always go back to the victim, right? That's who should be responsible for trying to deal with this and solve this issue. So we should try to be a bit more braver in the church space to have these conversations to talk about this to not just put it aside as a taboo awkward subjects because it matters.
25:02 – Simon Doong
Well joining us today, we have a very special guest. Joining us is the Reverend Chris Shelton, pastor at Broadway Presbyterian Church, New York. Chris, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast today.
25:16 – Chris Shelton
Well, thanks. I hear you saying very special, but I'm looking at you. I'm saying, gosh, you're very special assignment. We're all very special guests in this thing together, right?
25:25 – Simon Doong
That is true. And actually, I say everyone who comes on to the podcast is very special. So not, yeah, not to diminish yours, but we’re all very special in our way. If we're all not, then we're doing something wrong.
25:42 – Lee Catoe
True. Well, welcome, Chris. It's really good to meet you. And we have a question for you sent and for our wonderful audience out there. And we'll just also plug if you have questions, send them in faith podcasts at peace. usa.org. But we got a question in and it reads, “who decides the music that is used for church each week? Is it the pastor, worship leader or choir director? How does that get planned so that everything connects to the themes for each week’s scripture readings and sermons?”
26:17 – Chris Shelton
Well, there is no one answer to this question. Except maybe, maybe I dare to say, who plans the music that's, that's being used in church each week, maybe the Holy Spirit, I would hope that it's the spirit at works among us that's making those plans through the variety of, of tools and experiences and insights of the people who are, are tasked with that work. You know, I can speak to the way I do it, but I know that there are many ways that music is incorporated into into worship. I am a strong advocate myself, for building as tight a link between the music that we sing, and the text that we're considering. On any given Sunday. I am a preacher, I am a Presbyterian preacher. So I love me some words. You know, Presbyterians, we love our content. We love our thoughtfulness, we, we love getting heady about words. And so you know, I love trying to build those connections between the words of liturgy, the words of music, and the word that we're gathered around for any particular Sunday, I myself can be a little neurotic about that, and trying to bring all those pieces together, in part, because I know that people are more likely to leave the service humming a hymn than they are to be humming my sermon, you know, my, my sermons are rarely toe tappers, you know, it's people are not gonna walk out and, and be singing along to whatever I said. So it's really important for me, if I if I want to try to, you know, trust that people are going to carry something with them from the the worship experience, I need to give them as many ways into that as I can and to create a cohesive experience for the language of worship, to make sense from, from the call to worship to the benediction is is super important for me. So, you know, I'll also say the other the other participant in planning is the community itself. Before I get too caught up in how, you know, I get the chance to sit, sit here in my office and, and pour through hymnals and resources. The community itself will let you know what kinds of music it likes to sing. And, you know, I think it's so important that we have, if we're called to exegete, the word and we're also called to exegete the community, I have a real privilege in serving here at Broadway church, where there's a lot of openness to finding new words and experimenting with new sounds and new tunes. Not every church is in that space that has to be cultivated, sometimes the task is on leaning on traditional forms, or leaning on the whatever form that that community knows best. And, you know, giving space for the community to voice their prayer, their praise, their heartache, their hunger, their gratitude, whatever the the need of that moment might be through the song of the church. So there's a lot going on here. I'm not meaning to step into the pulpit and start preaching a sermon about this, but I hope that it's a relationship between worship planner and congregation and Holy Spirit that really makes this happen.
30:00 – Simon Doong
I really appreciate that you talked about the relationship, particularly and coming from the congregation and thinking about how does the congregation respond or light to participate or use different types of music, different types of elements in the worship experience? And it's interesting, because I know in, in some spaces, for example, contemporary having a contemporary worship, music or contemporary worship service is sometimes that's really exciting to certain congregations. And for others, it's it's not quite as interesting. And that's fine. How do you see music as a means to also maybe the word I'm looking for is push a congregation to think about a new way of experiencing the spirit, but not pushing them too much, if that makes sense.
30:49 – Chris Shelton
Yeah, I think music is an incredibly intimate tool, we, we ask people who joined together in worship, to use their bodies to express their faith through song, we ask people to open up and take a breath. And we guide them toward a set of words, and a set of pitches, a set of sounds. And that's an incredibly intimate, that thing that we ask, we don't always think about it in those terms. And sometimes we want that experience to be very familiar. And sometimes we want that experience to push us to exercise some new muscles, to try on some new words to trend some new languages. I mean, many a multicultural experience in church is primarily multicultural through the music, you know, choosing musics from Honduras, or from South Africa, or from wherever around the globe, you know, we're asked to take on the sound and rhythm of another community and their bodies, and to feel that in our own body for a while. So I think there's something that's incredibly powerful about the way that we use music to form community, and to push community. So you know, finding the ways to, to stretch, you know, sometimes, sometimes you can invite a congregation to take some big stretches, sometimes not so much, sometimes you need to start off with great is Thy faithfulness. And then you know, you and you need to end with you know, joyful, joyful, and you can maybe have something there in the middle, that that does that exercising of those new muscles, you know, or, you know, if, if a church is sings more than just the three hymns that's common, you know, sometimes you can sneak in a new sound in a response. You know, I think of the many churches that have found their way into Gloria a dios, gloria a dio, gloria en el cielo or, you know, and can, they found into the space of six or eight measures, a space to exercise some new muscles and to grow in some new ways. And if they can start doing that, then maybe they'll be ready to try out, you know, a hymn in Spanish or, or a hymn in a in another sound. You know, there there's ways large and small, I think, to push a congregation forward, so long as you're lovingly doing so in doing so with purpose, if you're just doing it, because hey, the kids love to sing the songs with the band. That's not a purpose. That's that's not a meaning that's probably a misunderstanding of your community more than it is, you know, really being driven by, you know, trying to grapple with the way the spirit is calling us today.
34:08 – Lee Catoe
It's really funny. So I sing and play the guitar. And I grew up and I grew up in rural South Carolina, if you can't tell, No, really. And and when I moved, you know, I mean, in church, we had like, kind of like a weird electric Oregon, but we never like it was mainly piano and there was also people who like, played stringed instruments because of the traditions that we have in the in the country and in the south, a lot of like, bluegrass and country elements and folk elements within our worship. So it's very contextual. But when I moved, got to hear my first pipe, Oregon when I moved from college, still in South Carolina, and then as I got into the National Office to work, the way that and this is the way Ain't that the Oregon was talked about, it seemed that every Presbyterian should know like about the Oregon and about the these composers that people should know. And it's very interesting that that kind of has like this aura around it when it comes to hymns and things like that. And I was just like, Listen, I only listened to an Oregon pipe organ when I was like 18 years old. And then when I was in Tennessee, for as long as I was, there was a lot of bluegrass hymn playing, there wasn't a lot of Oregon. And at one point, those two things met each other with one of my friends his ordination, and it was very interesting to see the reaction from like a more traditional, Well, some people would call the Bluegrass very traditional to in like a rural context. But it was very interesting, this kind of Metropolitan way of of hams when it comes to the Oregon meeting this very rural, also Presbyterian Church. And so that that was just very interesting to me to kind of, like introduce different traditions that people have to each other and the way that they reacted, it's interesting because of the rhythms, how people are invited to use their bodies and dances, very different call and responses very different, even within the Presbyterian tradition. And I'll know a lot of people realize that, and some ways that there is so many different ways of worshipping, too. And just one tradition.
36:37 – Chris Shelton
Oh, yeah, it's one of the things that's, I think, so powerful about stepping out beyond our own comfort zones, and beyond our own assumptions. I mean, that assumption that you have have, you know, fallen into, that has fallen against you that, oh, everybody should know, you know, Balkan and books, to who dad, whomever, you know, that's, that's, we've got to be about tearing down our assumptions about everything, and, you know, meeting people where they are, you know, I've had some powerful moments in worship, or in conversation with worshipers here at Broadway, that have reminded me about what some people call it the concept of heart song. You know, that there is a sound that there is a rhythm, a way of singing, that is very close to people, that runs a full gamut of expression around the world. So so there's a song in glory to God than the you know, relatively new Presbyterian hymnal. And it's a Pakistani hymn. If Jesus save your Lord, now to you, I come and has this refrain Saren sada Nom, nom is a beautiful, beautiful tune, it's actually very similar in structure to the old Baptist hymns that I grew up with and grew up Southern Baptist in Texas, myself, it has very much of that kind of feel. So it's familiar enough. And yet, you know, it has this overlay of this kind of mantra, like, refrain in the midst of it. So we used it one Ash Wednesday evening, because it has this very sort of penitential kind of tone about it, about surrendering oneself. And after the service was over, a gentleman in our community who is from India, came over to me and he said, Oh, my gosh, I haven't heard that song in so long. I haven't heard that tune. That's a tune I grew up hearing, you know, that we would, we would hum that tune in my childhood. And it was so powerful for me to hear that. Similarly, one of our elders here at Broadway comes from a community where she's, I should say, the word elder can be misleading. And she's in her early 30s. And she's on our session. And, you know, she comes, she was formed in a much more contemporary music community. And she heard the heart song that she sings, is going to be much more informed by Hillsong or by a music from then your churches or that kind of thing. And we don't sing that song near enough. So when we do something like, you make beautiful things, this wonderful gonggar song that begins to be heard heart song, you know, whereas for me personally, you know, if I sing something like I love to tell the story, I'm probably going to be in tears by the end of it because that's my heart song. You know, so you know, trying to get past those assumptions. Yes, someone can also end up in tears from hearing a majestic piece played on the Oregon that is a hard song too. But you know, it's our task as church leaders is to try to hear the all these songs are somewhere sung in the hearts of our community, it gives space and to give voice for all of those without bias or privilege to any one of them. Any more than we're you know, as much as we're able to get away from that,
40:32- Simon Doong
I really appreciate the what you said about heart song. And I see that in the in the services that that are done at Broadway, I think that that's something very special about trying to tap into those different different heart songs for different folks. So that at some point, everyone sort of feels like they were they feel connected in a different way than simply participating in worship. If it wasn't sort of aimed at a at their particular, maybe preferred musical style. I don't know if you have experienced with this, Chris, previously, it sometimes I know in some churches, there's a like a choir director or a music director who is sort of separate from the the head pastor, do you have any experience sort of in doing bat coordination work and trying to figure out how to, you know, make sure everything fits together? Well, for the worship service?
41:28 – Chris Shelton
I have been a small church pastor, in my experience, so I don't have a direct experience in that no, I've I've had the experience of working with groups that are planning worship, I've had the experience of being in relationship with, with worship planners about particular worship services, sometimes where we have all agreed that we're on the right path, and sometimes we're there competing notions of what would be right for any given time. You know, I think, I think people are called in a variety of ways. And hopefully, if we are all trying to use our callings, use our skills, use our, our experience, to build up the body, rather than to their I say, inflate our own egos, or stay in our own comfort zones, then, you know, I hope that out of that collaboration, discernment together, that you know, the right thing will be born that thought that the Holy Spirit will get in and do the work in the in between spaces, I know there can be a lot of conflict around this, again, because I think music is a deeply intimate experience, you know, and it's the kind of experience that some people are really skilled at. And some people are really nervous about. And, you know, so there's, there's got to be a lot of trust, a lot of give and take in those kinds of relationships. I want to, if I can, a thought came to me about one other piece of sort of the heart song idea that I just want to circle back around to. And that's to say that for some people, their heart song is the music of the dance floor. For some people, their heart song is the music on the radio that they hear while they're driving across country, or back and forth to work every day. You know, for some people their heart song Is this the the Broadway show tune? You know, I have some Broadway show to heart songs myself, you know. And so I think it's also important for those of us who are, are leading music, not just to survey and understand and imagine within the circle of church music, but to be able to step out beyond that and listen for moments when there's musics from those other heart songs that can be drawn in. I think, actually, this is part of where sort of contemporary music kind of went kind of awry. I think there was a sense of let's let's make a sound that sounds like this. And, and contemporary music doesn't always achieve that sound, and sometimes really, really doesn't achieve that sound. And sometimes, you know, whatever. Whatever the original artist might be, whether it's Bob Dylan or YouTube or Adele or Jason Mraz or you pick, there might be something that they have provided that, in and of itself is should be welcome in our worship spaces, I don't know why I picked that ticked off that particular list, but to, you know, insert different sound, different artists here, then there's a lot that's out there that I think, you know, for us to pick up and, and listen to and, and honor for what those sounds can be in the connections they can create with our, our community. And maybe if we doubt ourselves, the opposite then can also happen, maybe our community can begin to hear the world around us in other ways, and be challenged to listen for the Spirit speaking, I'm not particularly good at that, I will say, because I'm, I'm not conversant in all of those sounds. But I do think that there's a richness all around us, I mean, Psalm 19, tells us that everything around us is praising God. So if that's true, then somewhere in all these other things that are moving around on the radios and, and in the other spaces of our life where music is made, I think there's something there for us to be listening for to, for heaven's sakes, just creation itself. If we would learn to listen more, to the birds into the whales into the waves, maybe we would have a more intimate relationship with this globe, that that is ours. Maybe we would try to get in its rhythm to instead of constantly trying to impose our own rhythms upon it. But that may be another podcast.
46:47 – Lee Catoe
Which we're always open too, by the way. But yeah, I was so glad you mentioned that, because there are many times where I am, I'm glad you mentioned to Adele, I have seen Adele in concert. And I will say that that experience, and just the way in which someone can produce the sounds and which she can produce through her own embodiment. I mean, that was a spiritual experience in itself to, to kind of experience that, that whole thing, and also like Dolly Parton and things, all these all these artists that really do create beautiful things that are worthy of opening up opening us up to the Spirit. And so I'm really glad you mentioned that. And also y'all can't say this, but Chris has on some really great glasses. So I love your glasses. And I also want to thank you for joining us, this was wonderful to talk about music a little deeper. I know it's something we all have, like in our churches and also in our worshiping spaces, and it kind of can just be there sometimes and we don't talk about it enough. So I am very appreciative of it. And I hope people really think more deeply about their music planning and inclusion and and things like that. So thank you, Chris, for for being here.
48:10 – Chris Shelton
Thanks for the invitation. It's great to talk and and hat tip to Dolly. You know, oh, yeah, I went to the Dali concert that was out in Queens a few years back. And I mean, the first thing I said, you know, after she hung up her hat and moved on was that was church, you know, yeah, because it was church. And you know, there. Wow, powerful stuff.
48:39 – Simon Doong
And Chris is going to be staying with us for our resource roundup segment to tell us a little bit more about some work that he's been doing related to music. Chris, I I hear you have a book out. What's that about?
48:51 – Chris Shelton
Well, thanks, Simon. Yeah, earlier this year, this I was privileged to see a new book into being a collection of 50 hymns that I have written. Most of them are my hymn texts, although about 13 of them or my own tunes as well. So I there's a whole story behind it. And that just illustrates the beauty of the connectional and ecumenical church. But several years back, I was invited to submit a couple of hymn texts to the Mennonite hymnal project. One of my hymns has been included in their new hymnal, which also came out earlier this year. Through that I got connected with an extraordinary hymn writer, Adam Tice, who has just written some wonderful, wonderful language for the church over the last decade, prolific him writer and long story short, Adam was really intrigued by the text of mine that they published in voices together and started up a conversation with me. And now he is my editor. And through gi a publications in Chicago, you know, all these hymns that I've been writing, you know, earlier, we were talking and I'd said about how I'm kind of neurotic about finding the words. And there have been times in my ministry when I just needed the hymn after the sermon to do X or Y, or Z. And none of the hymns in the hymnal did X or Y, or Z. And so I thought, you know, what I just said, I'm gonna have to write this thing. And so, you know, I had written all of these hymns and really hadn't ever imagined that they would be useful, that they would, that they would be, you know, something that would, would be of interest to the broader church. But, you know, through Adams encouragement and support and through what's been a wonderful year of editing medicine, I'm so excited to have this resource out there, gotten some great responses from people and again, from the ecumenical community. gcia is the biggest publisher for the Roman Catholic community in North America. And so, you know, I've, I've started connecting with a, really a wonderful array of musicians through this. You know, I can say to that, you know, I've had the opportunity to connect with some really wonderful composers through this work, where we've given birth to some new music altogether. Some of them Presbyterian, some of them not, you know, Sally and Morris is a wonderful composer, who's written several pieces. Mark Miller is a wonderful Methodist composer, and I'm so privileged to have gotten to work with him and others and so that you know, it's called sing no empty all lluvias and I'm delighted to have it out there that that him sing no empty Allah Louis is that was born on the Sunday after the election in 2016. And trying to say, you know, as we move forward into what, what is the difficult time, a season of, you know, profound change and deep discernment, you know, let's not sing, empty or lose, we need to sing, you know, with thoughtfulness and depth, we need to sing of God's justice, and our call to kindness, and mercy and, and love. And, you know, we have to take all of our words seriously. So I'm delighted to have it out there. I hope that it's meaningful to worship leaders and to congregations.
52:34 – Lee Catoe
Awesome, that sounds awesome. And there will be a link, we’ll provide a link in the show notes so you can get to it real quick. And yeah, thank you again, Chris, for being here. And for the work you're doing. And hopefully one day we'll get to me even Simon are like in the same place. And so yeah.
52:56 – Chris Shelton
Simon, have you outed yourself as our star clarinetist here at Broadway? I mean, you are part of the musical community here. So it's, it's not just me, don't let that be a rumor.
53:10 – Simon Doong
Well, I will say Chris, just for our audience to know. So I do have a copy of your great hymn book. And I whenever I practice my clarinet, I usually enjoy sight reading a couple hymns from the hymnal, but I also enjoy sight reading from your book. And just yesterday, I was playing through signo MTL, Louis is so I can attest that it is a very, very good hymn and the books great, and I hope folks will check it out.
53:36 – Chris SHelton
And I can attest that Simon Doong is excellent clarinetist. And so you know, look for look for some collaboration, said we've got to put together a “play no empty clarinet” thing. I don't know if that joke worked or not. But what do you do? Editing?
53:54 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, we want to have that part out. Thanks, Chris. Thanks for being with us.
53: 59 – Chris Shelton
54:06 - Simon Doong
This has been the matter of faith podcast brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program in unbound. If you would like to submit a question for discussion, you can do so at faith podcast at pcusa.org. We look forward to hearing from you see you next time.
54:22 – Lee Catoe
See you next time, y'all.
54:42 – Simon Doong
Thanks for listening to Episode 31 of a matter of faith a presby podcast. Don't forget to like, subscribe or follow on your favorite podcast platform.
54:53 – Lee Catoe
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55:06 – Simon Doong
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