Homage or Plagiarism?

pharrell-800Following music today gets sketchy for someone like me who still misses “Spanky and Our Gang” but I’ll try.

Robin and Pharrell wrote a song that appears to be mimicking one written by Marvin Gaye, enough for the court to let these two lads pay millions of dollars that you and I cannot imagine having but less parting with it.  (They both have enough left so sympathy is not necessary.)

I liked the comparison of homage against plagiarism that Pharrell gave.  He’s defending himself against the latter in favor the former.  For a Christian, both words have power and influence in our lives.  We pay homage to Christ by plagiarism in any shape and form in order for us to be renewed, revived and reignited for our tasks ahead.  Pharrell losing the former meant guilty to the latter, the latter being somewhat emptying his pocketbook.

For all we know Jesus’ mother Mary may still be alive and well and living in Ephesus and listening to my sermons where I homage her son daily with plagiarism.  Not that Mary would get much from me but the trial would be interesting when my attorney argues that Father talks a good talk but check out his daily life and you’ll see little if any plagiarism and only a token of homage.  (That’s my cue to humbly put my head down to convince the jury.)

Musically, I’d side with Pharrell by the homage he pays to those who paved the way for him to make millions upon millions.  In the 1960’s every song had four chords, repeated in variation but always within that limited number.  All the music sold well for all of them.

My homage to the Son of God is the four chords of charity, forgiveness (self and others), mercy and wisdom.  I’ll repeat them again and again in my sermons in various ways but always with those same four chords.  The plagiarism charge I’ll leave to the Blessed Mother and her attorneys, “Bible, Bible and Sons.”  As for my daily behavior, I have the same challenge we all have to pay both homage and plagiarism to the one who sustains and guides our lives.  There’s are no “blurred lines” with that last sentence.

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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