[RE] the recent description of cantors "singing at" worshippers. Fundamentally, I think that many people simply don't want to be expanded past their comfort zone into the true "work" of worship--the Avodah that requires effort. Worship is not about entertainment like going to a concert is. It can be entertaining, but if that is the goal, then it is not truly worship. Jewish worship calls us to approach God--God the Sovereign, God the Creator, God the Redeemer, in gratitude, humility, and love. But love of God isn't like butterfly kisses and pleasurable feelings. Love of God, as Torah and our liturgy teaches, is about acceptance of commandments. God gives us law out of love and we obey out of love. To ignore or reject the image of God as authority, as disciplinarian, is to deny the opportunity to grow towards holiness--our ultimate goal as worshippers and faithful Jews. This is difficult, it requires wrestling and effort, but it is, after all, what we're here for in the sanctuary. Of course, there are other important goals of worship--fellowship and community, self-awareness and comfort--but these can be achieved as byproducts of the work part of worship. Those who seek to cast the cantor in the role of human jukebox, taking requests and playing ditties that "have a good beat; you can dance to it" are examples of those who reject true worship in favor of the quick fix of entertainment. It is shallow, immature, and reminds me of the whiny and spoiled children on the Nanny show who only eat French fries and candy for dinner, go to bed whatever time they feel like, and laugh at the parents who tell them to turn off the television or X-Box.
As the authority figures in the sanctuary, we must find ways to inspire true worship that is challenging and meaningful, not just fun and catchy.