From Personal Experience to Podcast

While researching for the first podcast,  I was comforted to discover that my own observations of my experiences in different churches were not a unique experience. The congregational singing within Catholic churches is lacking when compared to Lutheran churches. I always wondered why this was. Growing up, I had been encouraged to sing and raise my voice in prayer, but would receive confused looks from strangers if I sang during the liturgy. However, during my initial research, I struggled to find sources that discussed the lack of singing within churches. Mostly they discussed what the Catholic church teaches about singing during Mass, which is starkly different from what I observed in the services I would attend.

After a bit more digging, I found an article titled “After Vatican II: Are We All Protestants Now? Or Are We All Catholics Now?” This article by Anthony Ruff encapsulated what I had observed in Mass. He explained why there was this disconnect between what the Church taught, and what the congregation gave. This article provided me with more keywords to use when searching for sources. Eventually I discovered the book Why Catholics Can’t Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste by Thomas Day, which is not only a detailed and in-depth look at the issue of congregational singing, but also is a generally humorous and light read. This is one of those books that I would send to my (very Catholic) parents, because I think they would enjoy it. It is rare that I am researching something so close to my heart, and it is highly rewarding to discover books that I enjoy and that I would not have found otherwise.

I have learned, while doing this research, that often my opinion will not be the popular opinion. Instead of trying to find sources to fit what I already plan on saying, I should be searching for sources that challenge and inform my argument, and that may end up changing my argument altogether. Using personal experience is a good way to begin to form an argument, but it is not the most reliable source, as personal experience is influenced by so many things, and it differs from everyone else’s experience.

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