Monday, January 21, 2008

More byzcath frustration.

I am saddened by the attitude Byzcath.org has taken regarding the thread "Prof. J. Michael Thompson Resigns".

The original poster had merely mentioned the fact of Prof Thompson's resignation. Yes, it is fact, I know first hand.

I had posted a rather strongly worded, perhaps too strongly worded for some, as the post has been deleted prior to the thread being locked, which called for some form of censure of those posters who were publicly revelling in Professor Thompson's misfortune of "resignation".

There have been numerous posters over the years at Byzcath.org who were outright banned or disallowed from posting for less over-the-top postings about others with whom they disagreed.

I had hoped the thread would have been locked or removed before the "If it is true, all I can say is Wooohooo!!!" post by Secret Squirrel who like Etnik, Ung-Certez, Rusyn31, Pisankar, InCogNeat3's and others have made no secret their dislike of Prof Thompson using Byzcath.org as a public platform to foment their anger at Thompson and anyone connected with the IELC/IEMC, all with the implicit consent of the administrators of the board.

Interestingly, the Administrator/owner of Byzcath.org posted this reply to me:

"Steve’s ongoing conflation of all judgment of Mr. Thompson’s work with judgment of his person is itself not charitable. Those who post negative comments about persons are dealt with by the moderators. Ultimately such comment only succeeds in reflecting negatively upon the man who posted it. Men of good will can and do comment legitimately on the work of another (be it Mr. Thompson’s, Msgr. Levkulic’s, Mr. Jumba’s, or anyone else’s). Great care should be taken both in expressing it (so that it is not personal) as well as in reading it (so as not to interpret legitimate commentary on work as judgment of person).

I can certainly agree with Steve’s comment about those who step forward undergoing very close scrutiny. This is the case with all who offer their work to the Church and I have certainly seen it many times, including with my own meager offerings. The best thing to do is to listen to it, accept and profit from legitimate criticism, and reject the rest. "


This from the previous 'de facto' top cantor, John Vernoski, for many of the parishes in the Pittsburgh Metropolia. His "meager" offerings spanned 25 years, an impressive mailing list and the imprimatur of Bishop Andrew (Eparchy of Passaic). His work did not undergo anywhere near as much international scrutiny by cantors as Thompson's.

Notable has been cantor Vernoski's ongoing difference of opinion with Prof. Thompson from day one broadcast clearly via byzcath.org. Efforts to counter the onslaught were rebuffed. a number of those who disagreed were banned or just stopped posting, realising that they were outgunned.

Now that Thompson is out of the picture, who becomes the next in line? If there is a revision of the rubrics (restoration of the 1942 rubrics) will the text be again set to the proper melodies, or highly modified, (almost experimental) settings with the proofreading of as many cantors who proofed the settings currently in use. There was close to 200 cantors who were regularly proofing the texts and settings. Of course, those cantors had little say regarding the translation.

1 comment:

Stuart Koehl said...

For his part, J. Michael Thompson was a rather arrogant man who interpreted all criticism of his work as a personal attack. The manner in which he treated John Vernoski was scandalous. The impact of his musical settings upon the Ruthenian Metropolitan Church have been little short of catastrophic, and furthermore, ran counter the the very spirit of the Prostopinje he supposedly wished to preserve.

As to the reasons behind his departure, if half of what I heard from highly reliable sources is at all true, he should never have been present at the Seminary at all, let alone entrusted with the musical patrimony of the Church.

So, climb down off your high horse. I, too, am very glad that J. Michael Thompson is no longer associated with the Ruthenian Church.

Unfortunately, neither am I. I and my family are precisely the kind of people the liturgical renewal of the Church was supposed to entice--we are among the very few people who were baptized directly into the Ruthenian Church, as opposed to those converting from Protestantism, Orthodoxy or the Latin Church. We take our liturgy seriously. Though not Slavs, we know Slavonic, and we know liturgical music, and were repelled by the third rate translation of the Divine Liturgy, the awkwardness of the musical settings, and the insensitivity with which it was all crammed down our throats. Our parish, which once boasted several hundred people on Sundays, and which sang with gusto, has shrunk by half, and no longer sings.

But we are not there, having found an excellent Melkite parish which offers a fuller liturgical life, which is growing and dynamic, and at which everybody sings--without any books whatsoever.

You could have had so much. Now you will have nothing.