Friday, October 05, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The first guy is inaccurate in a lot of his musical analysis. Bach did not follow the rules. He was constantly breaking the rules. And I don't know why older people should begin to like Bach more, but it has nothing to do with him being a "rigorous disciplinarian". I find that many musicians have a hard time understanding Bach until they've spent many years in the pursuit of musical excellence. Bach is a totally different aesthetic than we have today. The music of the classical and romantic composers is much more accessible to us because of our movie music. It's very dramatic and harmonically stretched. Many people think Bach is boring. As my father used to say it sounds like finger exercises. I contend that that is because most musicians today play it as if it were a finger exercise. There is a woman who plays Bach better than anyone I've ever heard and it is gloriously musical.
But, the article also seems to make the point that staying in the rules is what makes something "christian". And then does he infer that rock music does not stay within the rules? That contradicts his view that it is mediocre. He seems very confused.
In reality I find rock music to be mostly boring. They don't have innovative and interesting harmonic language for the most part. There are, of course, exceptions to that. There is some really pretty rock, or more appropriately, popular music. I generally can't listen to it for a long period because I get bored. But I find that it has little to do with being Christian or not. The only argument I could understand for that would be about orderliness. It seems to me that heightened rhythmic impulse would be more organizational, not satanic. Again, too much of the rhythm track gets to be boring. So, I guess I would be more concerned about being bored than not Christian.
He also makes the argument about primitive music vs western music, but there is also the question of christian vs pagan music. Western music has a harmonic language that is rich and organizational. There are clear goals and you know when you arrive. That has broken down to some extent in the 20th century but the good art music still acknowledges that. Eastern music is rambling and has no real sense of time or harmonic direction. There is no goal and you don't know when you arrive. When I think of Indian or even New Age music I think of sameness and boring. I usually fall asleep. I'm sure you can understand the difference in philosophical approach to the two different styles. Primitive music, in the sense of currently existent primitive cultures, tends to be more rhythmic than harmonic. I'm not sure that's a bad thing. They at least have a sense of timing. I have a really hard time teaching my buddhist students to count or even value timing.
He also makes the point that many rock musicians could not play Chopin or Brahms. While that is true, I'm not sure what that has to do with being suitable for Christian worship. There is very little subtlety in rock music. Perhaps that is something that could be useful for worship. Certainly, they don't practice any of the various techniques for timbre or qualities of sound that can be produced. Not many people today appreciate the artistic coloring of different artists. I think everything we do should be to the best of our ability. I think there is a certain virtue in rigorous discipline and pursuit of excellence. I'm not sure that should be allowed to stop people from worshiping to the best of their ability, even if it's not perfect. I'm sure God looks upon your intent as much as your follow through.
The other guy seemed to be saying that you have to have the old forms of worship in order for it to be comfortable, understandable and useful. That's true to some extent, but I don't think it means you can't have new music. It's not automatically bad just because it's popular. It doesn't necessarily mean you are giving in to the culture wars just because you use the musical idiom of the day. That german hymnody he touts was once the popular music of that day. My guess is that Bach used some of the popular music of his day, etc. I can understand the desire to be separated from the bad part of the culture, but you know that there are some parts that have virtue. There are virtuous movies. Christians don't say don't look at any movie.
I think there has probably always been this tension between the culture of the day and Christianity. At different times the church has responded in different ways. I think we need to be careful how we respond. In our church we tend to emphasize understanding what the issues are and what is really important. I think if it is taught correctly and we understand what music is really for and that the important part is what you are thinking, it doesn't really matter what form the music takes. It's more about your job than mine.
The issue remains, may contemporary Christian music be employed as an evangelistic tool, even if it is generally representative of youthful rebellion and substandard in quality? Are there scriptural analogies to cultural accomodation? There is one great one: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
For the purpose of evangelism, rock music and many other creative cultural accomodations may be employed, as long as they don't cross the line into immorality, what is forbidden to all. Yet this does not make classical and traditional church music outdated or inappropriate. Far from it! Why not have excellent music for worship, which better represents a striving for excellence in the Christian life?
Monday, September 17, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Near the end of the third hour I prepared my family for the inevitable: the pagan push. I was looking at it philosophically as a teaching opportunity, telling everyone to be ready for the smearing of the lines between creature and creator, and man and nature, and instead hearing the philosophy of evolution and the associated pagan doctrines. I was pleasantly surprised to hear instead the concept of the sovereignty of man, and how the fate of nature depends on the care of man. This clearly marked the distinction between man and nature. I genuinely hope this will continue.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Jesus the Savior is better: even if a person should die tragically there is eternal life. Nothing is really lost, and eternity is gained. Now that's a Savior!
The Superman model is something like the claim Antichrist will make when he is finally let loose by the rapture and removal of the Restrainer from the earth. Antichrist is the first horseman of the apocalypse in Revelation 6. He goes out conquering and to conquer, intending worldwide control. There will be war, famine, natural disasters of various kinds, and somehow at the end of three and a half years, Antichrist is the master of the entire world, and is so bold as to set up an image of himself in the Jerusalem temple, the anti-ark (as the ark of the covenant is to Messiah, so the image is to Antichrist). Of course he is not seen as the cause of those terrible events, but as the savior through them, but with no reference to eternal life.
Friday, March 02, 2007
"Actions presenting so great a contrast to the ordinary course of human behavior indicate the power of the impulse that had gripped them. They had been moved to advance, no once, not occasionally, but again and again, into dangers as terrifying as any man can ever know. They had been sustained to endure such trials by more than a mere craving for land. They had caught a glimpse of a more complete freedom. They were people who truly valued freedom. They had come from stocks which had already set upon freedom a sufficient value to cross an ocean to a strange far land in pursuit of it. In the new world they had found a scene still cluttered with bond service, quitrents, class distinctions, legalistic inequalities. Glowing in the sky over the dark wilderness beyond the promise still beckoned.l The complete freedom they sought may have continued to elude them but the reward of seeking it had not."
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
"The change in frontier temper first perceptible in 1766 and unmistakable by 1769 was a metamorphosis as complete as the transformation of the worm in the cocoon into a winged creature of the air. The misery-haunted inhabitants of the border who had formerly been the perpetually harried victims of seemingly implacable circumstance had suddenly begun instead to see themselves as the appointed masters of their own fate. There had been an alteration in their outlook, their deportment, and their every attitude. A change so remarkable, and one with so direct a bearing on the whole country's future, deserves some attempt at a closer examination. The phenomenon was apparent as in that isolated section of the frontier in the Valley of Virginia. It was there that the people of the border began first fully to recognize their identity as a separate people and to realize that every relief or advantage they sought was to be gained only by their own exertions."
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The first is about life on the frontier, as defined by the Native Americans. This sets the stage for the ascendancy of the frontiersmen (pp. 38-39): "His way of life was dedicated to the simple and all-inclusive principle that complete personal freedom is the first requisite to becoming a whole man. From dawn to dusk, from childhood to old age, he adhered to this cult of freedom. Whether he built a canoe, carved a pipe, hunted a buffalo, sought a woman, joined a war party, or stretched to doze away the day in the sun, whatever he did was at a moment of his own choosing. His lot was not always an easy one. He often starved, froze, fell ill, or suffered from every sort of misadventure, but never did he suffer what was in his estimation the genuine ignominy of being required to do what another man told him to do."
The second is especially telling of his philosophy (p.39): "As he grew older his destiny grew increasingly apparent. If he was to become a man in the Indian sense of the term he must become more and more of an individualist. He must reject all discipline imposed by others while at suitable intervals he must most rigorously discipline himself in order to develop his skill, hardihood, and courage as hunter and warrior... ...Being a man he needed to subscribe to no rule but his own impulses and the more heedless these were the more proven was hi manhood." The Indian had a complete denial of his sinful nature... 1 John 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."