Hymn parody

Hymn parody

Peter Hannigan

In her letter (July, AD2000) Cathy Cleary takes Bruce Dawe and the editorial staff to task for the publication of a send-up of "Come As You Are". I can only suggest that she has missed the point of Dawe's critique; or, at best, has taken a superficial view of something that is worth greater consideration.

That the "hymn" in question may be, in fact, "loved by many old and young" is surely a matter of regret. It is, in substance, an expression of universalism. The writer has totally ignored Christ's oft-repeated instruction that repentance for one's sins is necessary for salvation.

Hence it is pointless merely to "go as we are". We are to go as Christ tells us to go. We are to go with humility and reverence - and with repentance.

As Dawe so pointedly tells in parody, it is just these qualities for which an irreverent dress style shows clear disdain; and, indeed, may well deny. On the other hand, modestly respectful and appropriate attire probably indicates that the wearer is aware of, and sensitive to, the full meaning of the Mass; and further, as a matter of Christian charity, that person seeks to avoid giving a source of unnecessary distraction to others in the congregation.

Perhaps it is just as likely that so many of the youth do not go to Mass because the "dress statement" of their elders clearly tells them that it is "no big deal". Add to this the appalling lack of reverence for the sacred in the church before, during, and after Mass, so usual these days; and the truly awful "hymns", including the one under notice, so often favoured, and which yield no sense of the transcendent or of the Divine.

Also, accusations of being "negative, critical and judgmental" should be used with caution. Being negative of the negative is being positive. To be critical is obviously as much a right for one as for the other. And the letter writer is, herself, being unreservedly judgmental.

Adamstown Heights, NSW

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