Composer’s ‘Prequiem’ for McVeigh Condemned
Reading about composer David Woodard’s “prequiem” (“Ave Atque Vale”) for unrepentant mass murderer Timothy McVeigh almost made me lose my breakfast (“In Concert at a Killer’s Death,” May 9). What kind of ethical blindness can lead Woodard to characterize McVeigh as “a master high comedian” and make him out to be some kind of Christ figure or deserving of admiration? Write a requiem for the victims if you wish, but hardly for the killer, God help him.
What will be next, Mr. Woodard, “postquiems” for Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, an anthem for Charles Manson? Maybe you’ll edit the next hymnal for the white supremacist Church of the Creator? Could an ode to St. Kevorkian be far away?
By the way, shame on St. Mary Margaret Church in Terre Haute, Ind., for providing a venue for this music. They should know that forgiveness demands repentance. They should have told the composer, “Vale atque abi” (“Hail and begone”), and sent him and his sorry concept crawling back into the dark.
Creative artists must, of course, often take risks. But, as both a theologian and composer, I found my soul chilled by your report.
What a sickening and hideous display of artistic license. May God forgive them both: Woodard for his twisted hero worship, and McVeigh for his heinous and unspeakable act of violence.
GRETA H. PANG
Unfortunately the dead victims of the Oklahoma bombing didn’t have time for a prequiem service put on by composer David Woodard.
McVeigh said his bombing was for people killed at Waco, Texas. Those people had three weeks to leave their facility. How much time did the Oklahoma bombing victims have?
I suppose it would be crass of me to suspect Woodard of being a publicity seeker. So I admit it: I’m crass.
Regardless of one’s feelings about the death penalty, it is difficult to comprehend or to embrace the notion of Timothy McVeigh’s life being celebrated in a Mass titled “Ave Atque Vale” (“Onward, Valiant Soldier”). The concept defies subjection to fundamental human reason. It is, to say the least, a very chilling thought.
KENNETH W. LIVINGSTON