Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Revisiting Revolution 21's premise

Every now and again, I like to revisit what Revolution 21 is all about -- if for no other reason than to remind myself.

SO, here we go:
Let's get something straight right now, O huddled masses: Revolution 21 ain't your grandma's media provider. It ain't your typical Catholic radio thing, and it ain't your typical corporate, over-researched, same-boring-playlist rock radio thing, either.

But is it really useful to define Revolution 21 by what it's not? So sorry, my plebes! My bad.

Let's just say -- plainly -- what Revolution 21 is. Revolution 21 is a website and music program that aim to reflect life as it is lived by screwed-up, struggling, inspired-yet-bumbling children of God sorely in need of His grace and forgiveness.

Revolution 21 -- that is, the Blog for the People and 3 Chords & the Truth -- realizes that Catholics like the Mighty Favog (your host and the master of dysfunctionality) live life with one foot in Heaven and the other in the gutter with all the other schmucks called Humanity. We strive for holiness, we occasionally achieve it, and sometimes the best we can muster is Holier Than Thou.

Oh, well. Blame it on Eve and that damned apple.

For his part, the Mighty Favog -- though a great and mighty Favog -- is a Bad Catholic. It is to be hoped, however, that he is capable of decent "radio" . . . and a stellar show.

And he's trying most mightily to become, at the least, a Mediocre Catholic.

So, like us believing schmucks, Revolution 21 -- all of it, text and audio -- is a mixture of the sacred and the secular. The serious and the foolish. Rock . . . and roll. Well, you get the idea.

But Revolution 21 has a problem with our oversecularized, materialist and ultimately shallow culture. We figure schizo is the only thing you get out of putting faith waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over in one corner of your life and "real life" waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over in another corner so the two never touch.

We say put that Faith Thing and that Life Thing in a bag, shake it the hell up and see what happens.

I mean, ain't that a lot more fun than alienation, ennui and life in Schizo City? Or, if not always fun, at least always a lot more interesting and, ultimately, rewarding.

But then again, it's not All About Me -- or All About You -- is it, now?

Enough blather, proclaims the Mighty Favog, your master of New Media!

Let us now proceed with trashing preconceived notions of radio formatting and stale bourgeois convention. Let us now do radio and blogging and . . . whatever . . . like we ought to be living -- faith and life together, recognizing only two kinds of music. That would be Good and Bad.

The bad, we don't mess with.
WELL, THAT'S pretty much the foundational vision of what this enterprise is about -- trying to come up with a new model of being a person of faith, of being a Catholic, in media.

Catholic media shouldn't have to be all about preaching and, frankly, staying in the Catholic ghetto. It should be about more than non-stop apologetics and, sad to say, some really bad "contemporary" music.

Of course, there needs to be a place for all that -- well, except for the bad music -- in Catholic radio, webcasting and podcasting. But there needs to be more. The Catholic media message, especially at this time in history, needs to be multidimensional.

There needs to be a cultural-support system for faith . . . and a space where Catholics can be intelligent, fun, culturally attuned beings while paying mind to the Permanent Things. If you listen to Catholic radio at all, for instance, you know that just isn't happening there.

IF ANYTHING, you start to wonder how such a church ever could have produced a Flannery O'Connor or a Walker Percy. Hang on a sec. Walker Percy was a convert.

You also start to wonder why most of the musicians and authors whose work you consider to be the most "Catholic" have achieved that while walking out the door of the church. You know, the whole "I was raised Catholic" thing.

You wonder whatever happened to whatever in Catholicism produced so much of the Renaissance. Whatever kept so much of Western culture alive during the Dark Ages.

I mean, how in the hell did we get from there to a culturally retarded institution which oftentimes has nothing better to offer the Almighty than the liturgical equivalent of this:

SO, HOW DOES ONE expect to get anywhere with something like, for example, 3 Chords & the Truth in this milieu?

You don't.

As the general manager of a Catholic radio station once told me about an effort far less "out there" (at least from a religious-radio perspective) than 3 Chords & the Truth, "Catholic radio's not ready for that." That, of course, begs the question, "When the hell will it be, then?"

Not now. Not when Catholic culture -- and let's face it, Christian culture in this country -- isn't any smarter than what it's supposed to be transcending.

So, what I think I need to face up to is that what I'm doing has no prospect of success within "the church." I don't know that I'd change a word of the above "mission statement" (for lack of a better term), but I know I can't force proselytizing or overt evangelizing into what is more properly the realm of culture and art.

Music -- art -- is more than just a tool for chalking up souls. It's more than the ol' evangelization bait and switch. And most importantly, it's not being true to the fullness of who I am or what I'm trying to accomplish here . . . whatever that might ultimately be.

WHAT I'M DOING, I guess, is "Catholic media" in the sense that it's media done by a guy trying to be a faithful Catholic. Just don't expect that it's "Catholic media" in the sense of being a shill for the institutional church, or merely a utilitarian "hook" for convincing you to be Catholic or to do as I say God says.

You are welcome here even if you think I'm full of it, and that that goes double for my religion.

If there's anything wrong in my foundational vision, it's that it is too formal -- as informal as it is, relatively speaking. The institutional church, for all I know, probably would be actively hostile to what I'm doing . . . at least if its name had to be on it. And I damn well know most Catholics just don't "get it."

Our church is a timid church.
It fears how some things might look.
There is no room for this.
Our church is a timid church.
SOME OF YOU will know the tune to put to that. Expect 3 Chords & the Truth to change accordingly, starting this week.

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