From Sebastian Milbank’s thoughtful analysis in The Critic of the choir demolition at Sheffield Cathedral:
… At the root of what is happening in Sheffield is not misguided idealism or commitment to diversity on behalf of the Dean and Chapter, rather it is fear and elitism. The Dean, a high church Anglican raised on elaborate traditional liturgy, seems at once terrified of the modern world and lacking in confidence in his own Church and its traditions. In describing traditional choral music as ‘elitist’ we import dangerous and unfair prejudices about who that music is for, suggesting that high cultural choral music belongs only to the white middle class.
The greatest threat to both positive diversity and our musical tradition is the setting of this legacy two at war with one other, also valid ones. If we want our traditions to be passed on, then we should also want as many different kinds of people to appreciate and be a part of them as possible. And at the same time if we want a harmonious and successful multicultural society, we need to develop and share traditions in common. Behind the faux radicalism of so many clerical statements lies the worst kind of conservatism, a view of all change as a threat. It is ironically for this reason that many church leaders react to change with cowardly compliance, hoping to outrace the pace of alteration. Not surprisingly, bumbling Anglican bishops do not successfully retreat before the incoming tide of progress and end up flopping around in rapidly dampening trousers as dry land recedes before them. What they fail to see is that the changes in our society potentially make the Church of England all the more relevant as something strikingly and attractively different if only Anglicans can respond intelligently, are not afraid to criticise the more dubious innovations, and present their own solutions rather than relying on those of secular society….
Read on here.