The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Are Cultural Distinctions a Mirage?

From "Some Thoughts on Musical Style" by Kevin Twit at the ModernReformation.org site. The author defends the adaptation of new tunes to old psalm and hymn lyrics. I should point out that I have no real problems with this although I do question whether it is necessary.

At any rate, Twit says at one point:

"The rigid dichotomy between high art and pop art is unhelpful and naïve

Actually the historical basis of this is a rather racist argument. I am not saying that anyone who holds this distinction is a racist, but am pointing out a matter of historical origins. This distinction is really only about 150 years old, emerges during the nineteenth century as people try to separate themselves from the massive influx of Eastern European immigrants, and falls prey to a classic logical fallacy: just because something is popular does not mean it is of inferior quality! It may mean that it is of great quality and has connected with a large number of people for really good reasons! In addition, the attempt to make a big distinction between folk art and pop art fails to understand how popular art functions. I believe more Reformed thinkers need to appreciate those thinkers who understand culture in dynamic terms, rather than merely static ones."

To back up his claim, he sites this article from Calvin Theological Journal.

I wonder what Ken Myers would say about this? Could it be that there was a substancial shift in society 150 years ago that might account for this? Like say, immigration?