Web Meditation 19 March 2009
Today we will deal with an obvious and allusive topic. The arts, especially music, are ways that we love God with all our soul. It is obvious because we sing in church. Consequently, massive amounts of music have been, are, and will be composed for worship. Add to that the visual arts used in stained-glass windows, church architecture, and icons along with the rhetorical art of preaching, and it is obvious that the arts are often practiced to love God with all our soul.
It is allusive because we rarely articulate how it works. The arts work because they are inherently holistic. There is rarely a piece of art, even a minimalist piece of art that does not use some sort of synthesis of ideas or expressions. There is usually some sort of combining of elements to express a deeper meaning. Using congregational singing as an example, text, rhythm, melody and harmony are combined to express theology. (Theology here meaning words about God.) This concinnity engrains these deeper truths well within us. I have sat with people with late stage dementia or Alzheimer’s that can’t even remember their own name but can remember the hymns they sung as kids in church.
Furthermore, really good art mimics the deep structures of creation. My music composition instructor in college, Dr. Michael Linton, has shown how some of the structures in J.S. Bach’s music are the same mathematical patterns observed in nature. Now Bach did not consciously mimic these patterns; rather he was intuitively in tune with creation and so these patterns emerged in his music.
That last paragraph is a feeble attempt at reducing a large amount of art theory into a short statement. However, when we connect with a really great piece of art, like J.S. Bach’s Passion of St. Matthew, or a Jackson Pollock painting, a primal creative chord is struck deep within us. Creation is the first act of God recorded in scripture; therefore creativity is a characteristic of God. Therefore when our creativity is struck, excited, or energized we are resonating with a characteristic of God. We are brought closer in relationship with God, deeper in love.
Close your eyes and listen deeply to a great piece of music!
Some suggestions; Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Bobby Mcferrin’s Circlesongs, anything by Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis, Webern’s Passacaglia No. 1, Verdi’s Requiem, or Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, and last only because I could keep going all day, Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 especially the fourth movement.
If you are more of a visual person I highly recommend the paintings of Jackson Pollock, or even better, take a blank sheet of paper and color. Do not try to replicate anything, just relax you mind and hands express with a variety of colors.
This meditation is also posted on the website of the Chruch of the Resurrection.