I’m reading Settling the Score: Essays on Music by Ned Rorem, the American composer. Rorem, who was brought up a Quaker, writes with equal parts snark and common sense. Amidst all the snark about musicians and composers, he comes up with some snark about religion:
Insofar as the church becomes action it dispenses with ritual. Catholics react, Quakers act. Quakers never use music and are the most social progressive of church groups. By underplaying the motionless symbol of the Trinity, Quakers emphasize the need for political movement. When they reinforce that need politically, they do so in silence.
Wow! Take that, Mother Teresa.
Then, a little later on in the same essay, Rorem offers this delightful anecdote from his childhood:
Although Quakers, our parents used to send Rosemary and me to other denominational Sunday schools from time to time. That was squelched when we came home and confectioned crucifixes. Nonetheless, on holidays our family attended Catholic or High Epsicopal services “for the pageantry.” One Christmas, arriving late at Church of the Redeemer at 56th and Blackstone, Father asked the usher: “What time did the show start?” “We don’t refer to it as a show,” was the chilly reply.
Ahh. I now have a vivid image of that usher in my imagination….