Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Lawyer's Case for Christianity

Craig Parton defends the faith in Birmingham, AL. Listen to it here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cheerful He to Suff'ring Goes?

The fifth stanza from the hymn My Song is Love Unknown states "Yet cheerful He [Jesus] to suff'ring goes." While this seems innocent enough, I do not think it serves the Christian well to underestimate the severity of what happened to our Lord during His passion. It is entirely possible that our Lord could do His work without sin while still understanding the severity of that work. Let me illustrate this with a modern example.

This picture shows a man who had experienced hell. He had seen things and done things that we do not like to even think about. He knew that his work could be deadly, and that it would not be finished until his enemy was destroyed. In this picture is a man who knew what had to be done and would do it willingly, but he also understood the gravity of the situation.

Read the account of Jesus in the time immediately before His betrayal.

"He knelt down and prayed, saying 'Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.' Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

Our Lord knew that His work would be deadly. He knew that scourging, fatigue to the point of collapse, starvation, thirst, torture, and death were before Him. He also knew that He would be mocked, spit upon, tried in a kangaroo court, and convicted regardless of His innocence. He knew that He was not only man but also God. He knew that He could have legions of angels tend to Him at the utterance of a word. This account shows us a man who knew what had to be done and would do it willingly, but He also understood the gravity of the situation.

"Cheerful He to suff'ring goes?" Hardly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

True Art

"It has become a commonplace to say that the arts are in a bad way. We are in fact largely given over tot he entertainers and the spellbinders; and because we do not understand that these two functions do not represent the true nature of art, the true artists are, as it were, excommunicate and have no audience. But here there is not, I think, so much a lapse from a Christian esthetic as a failure ever to find and examine a real Christian esthetic based on dogma and not on ethics. This may not be a bad thing. We have at least a new line of country to explore that has not been trampled on and built over and fought over by countless generations of quarrelsome critics. What we have to start from is the Trinitarian doctrine of creative mind and the light that that doctrine throws on the true nature of images.

The great thing, I am sure, is not to be nervous about God - not to try and shut out the Lord Immanuel from any sphere of truth. Art is not he - we must not substitute art for God; yet this also is he for it is one of his images and therefore reveals his nature. Here we see in a mirror darkly - we behold only the images; elsewhere we shall see face to face, in the place where image and reality are one."

-Dorothy Sayers, "Toward a Christian Esthetic," The Whimsical Christian.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Experience and Art

"A poet is a man who not only suffers the impact of external events but also experiences them. He puts the experience into words in his own mind, and in so doing recognizes the experience for what it is. To the extent that we can do that, we are all poets. A poet so-called is simply a man like ourselves with an exceptional power to revealing his experience by expressing it, so that not only he, but we ourselves, recognize that experience as our own."

-Dorothy Sayers, "Toward a Christian Esthetic," The Whimsical Christian.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Toward a Christian Esthetic

"But oddly enough, we have no Christian esthetic - no Christian philosophy of the arts. The Church as a body has never made up her mind about the arts, and it is hardly too much to say that she has never tried. She has, of course, from time to time puritanically denounced the arts as irreligious and mischievous, or tried to exploit the arts as a means to the teaching of religion and morals - but I shall hope to show you that both these attitudes are false and degrading and are founded upon a completely mistaken idea of what art is supposed to be and do. And there have, of course, been plenty of writers on esthetics who happened to be Christians, but they seldom made any consistent attempt to relate their esthetic to the central Christian dogmas. Indeed, so far as European esthetic is concerned, one feels that it would probably have developed along precisely the same lines had there never been an Incarnation to reveal the nature of God - that is to say the nature of all truth. But that is fantastic. If we commit ourselves to saying that the Christian revelation discovers to us the nature of all truth, then it must discover to us the nature of the truth about art among other things."

"It is absurd to go placidly along explaining art in terms of a pagan esthetic and taking no notice whatever of the complete revolution of our ideas about the nature of things that occurred, or should have occurred after the first Pentecost. I will go so far as to maintain that the extraordinary confusion of our minds about the nature and function of art is principally due to the fact that for nearly two thousand years we have been trying to reconcile a pagan, or at any rate a Unitarian, esthetic with a Christian - that is, a Trinitarian and Incarnational - theology. Even that makes us out too intelligent. We have not tried to reconcile them. We have merely allowed them to exist side by side in our minds; and where the conflict between them became too noisy to be overlooked, we have tried to silence the clamor by main force, either by brutally subjugating art to religion, or by shutting them up in separate prison cells and forbidding them to hold any communication with each other."

-Dorothy Sayers, "Toward a Christian Esthetic," The Whimsical Christian.
Emphasis is mine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dominion Brass

I am really excited about the Dominion Brass.  This is really a first rate group of Christian professional musicians and educators who perform pro bono. Their mission is "to glorify God through music and to support other ministries ad charitable organizations through concert performances." 

Here is the cover to their first CD titled "Ite Missa Est."

My favorite thing about this CD, besides the outstanding musicianship, is the title piece "Ite Missa Est." This is really a programmatic symphonic work of four movements that are titled Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection. This music captures the emotions that Christians throughout the ages have felt in response to Jesus' merciful work of salvation. Order your copy right now... you can thank me later!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Writing Hymns Is Not Easy

Last year I started writing hymns. It started innocently enough - I wrote a baptismal hymn for my two nieces. I struggled through it, but when all was said and done I was happy with what I had produced. Then came my brilliant idea. If I can write one hymn, I could write more. I decided that beginning in Advent, I was going to write one hymn a week. I allowed myself the option to set an existing hymn text to music, but I primarily wanted to write my own text and compose my own music. You may be asking yourself, "How has your idea panned out?" Well, here we are already in Lent and I have created a grand total of....(drum roll please).... one hymn. I also found a seventh century text that I like, but I still haven't set it to music. That brings me to a grand lifetime total of two and a half hymns. Yikes! 

Today I started writing another hymn, which will be for the baptism of our first child in August. As I started writing I remembered why I only have two and a half hymns finished - it is not easy work. One of the hardest aspects of writing a hymn for me is the poetry. I am no poet. When I first thought of writing a hymn for our baby, I wanted to take one of Gerhardt's hymn texts and create a new setting. Somehow that idea lost steam. Nothing I write will be as masterful as Gerhardt (or anyone else's text for that matter), but I really want to give our little daughter something from myself. So here I am, trying to write half way decent poetry about my little peanut's baptism then set it to half way decent music. A tall order to be sure, but I am up for it. I just hope it isn't too terribly mediocre. I can hear my teacher and friend Carl Lenthe right now,” There is so much mediocrity in the world. Must you add to it?"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I'm Back!

After a three year hiatus from Viva Vox Evangelii, I am back!  I have done a lot since 2009, namely getting married to my wonderful wife, graduating from Indiana University with a bachelor of music in trombone performance degree, starting a private low brass studio in Virginia, putting on recitals, playing concerts, and taking auditions. Now my wife and I are anxiously awaiting the birth of our little daughter in July! 

I want to get things going by letting everyone know about a wonderful early music ensemble called Concerto Palatino. These are some of the finest musicians that I have ever heard. Check out their website, buy their CDs, find some quiet time in your busy schedules, and listen to their glorious sounds....