50 Shades of Grey

No, I am not referring to the London weather!

Whether you have read it, or will fess up to having read it, most everyone is aware of E.L. James’ erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. It is the fastest selling book on both sides of the Atlantic and has spawned a new literary genre known as Mommy Porn.

Brief synopsis for those who have been living under a rock:  Beautiful college graduate virgin meets handsome rich enigmatic businessman with a penchant for sadomasochism.  Neither can resist the other.  Lots of sex follows in the “Red Room of Pain”, Christian Grey’s pleasure palace equipped with chains, whips, and other instruments that can be found at your average Medieval Torture Museum.

One reviewer reduced the book to “S&M For Dummies“.  Another referred to the appeal of a “watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism“.  Like a Starbucks coffee, people cannot get enough of it.

I admit I read the first book, but I couldn’t go any further.  I cringed at the hackneyed writing more than the plentiful perverse sex.  The protagonist, Anastasia Steele, exclaims the oh-so-eloquent, “Holy Crap!”, 86 times in the first book alone.  This expression seems to sum up her response to erotic excitement and orgiastic rapture.  Enough said.

Also, do you really want to enter the raunchy imagination of this woman?

I had just finished the chapter near the end of the book in which Anastasia is rendered nearly senseless during a final romp in the Red Room of Pain: sightless as she blindfolded, immobile as she chained to a bed, and deaf to the outside world as she wears earphones with Spem in Alium blasting in her ears.  She repeatedly comments of the rapture of the choral music which rivals the raptures of the flesh in this scene.

You can imagine my surprise when I picked up my new music and discovered that The Bach Choir would be performing this very Spem in Alium


Thomas Tallis must be rolling over in his grave!  His choral masterpiece from the 1500s is a work for eight different choirs which do not repeat themselves while singing in consecutive motion.  It is a difficult not to lose control of all these moving parts during the piece…hence its symbolic significance in the book.

As I sang in concert last night, my mind wandered to blasphemous territory within the beautiful, celestial Brompton Oratory, otherwise known as The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The irony is not lost on me.

All I can say is, “Holy Crap!

The Bach Choir May 16th in the "Blue Nave of Joy"

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