Today was the second day of classes. I am enrolled in Honors UFound (Christian foundations), a survey of music literature from ancient Greece to Bach, several music groups, and Topics in American Literature. The last class is taught by Gregory Wolfe, founder and editor of IMAGE, a prominent literary quarterly that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture. He is also director of SPU’s MFA in creative writing.
I wasn’t really expecting any strong cohesion between these courses because they are each from different departments: theology, music, and English literature. But something has already emerged. In UFound, we will divide into groups and focus on different major Christian traditions—I’m hoping for Orthodox. In the survey class, we will study church chants of different places and eras. And the first book we’re reading in the Am Lit class is Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen. Mariette is right there on the cover experiencing ecstasy. I’ve received some odd looks. “She’s a nun,” I say, but that doesn’t change the looks.
The book is about a young woman, Mariette, who joins an order of sisters. SPOILER ALERT: Mr. Wolfe told us in class that she ends up with stigmata. There is so much tension building right now, in a weird nunny way.
Anyhow, all classes have touched or will touch on monasticism, specifically chant music. This stuck out at me because I have been listening to some chant recently, specifically Russian Orthodox and Chanticleer’s Matins for the Virgin of Guadalupe. From what I understand, many people my age who were raised in non-liturgical Protestant denominations are attracted to highly liturgical traditions. It just feels good. So I’ve been finding recordings in my parents’ cd library and on Spotify and listening to them in the car or during prayer. Spotify frequently interrupts the chants to advertise horror movies and condoms. Someone in advertising needs to be fired.