Back when 19th-century Methodists were debating whether to sponsor seminaries and promote a “learned ministry,” one bishop, it was said, opposed the idea. He connected vital faith and piety with ignorance. Challenged by a critic who asked the bishop whether he was thankful for his own ignorance, he proudly answered yes. Whereupon the critic moved that the convention sing a Te Deum¸ since the good bishop had so much for which to be thankful.
I deserve such a Te Deum, critics may say, after they read my confession of almost total ignorance concerning one of the strongest cultural forces around: “Christian music.” I hope I’m not a snob about everything post-baroque. Folk, soul, gospel, Southern Harmony, Sacred Harp and jazz all have an appeal for me.