If you’re reading this, I’m very excited because it means my auto-post feature worked out its issues! As I’m writing this, I’m at home, sitting in my desk chair with my feet propped on my bed. The usual. But as you’re reading this, I’m over 1,000 miles away from my laptop, my desk, my home, my country. And while I can’t predict the future, I have a feeling that while you’re reading this, I’m learning to lean on God and communicate not so much through words as through a language which knows no barriers: Love.
I’ll fill you in on the details once I’m back on US soil, but for now I want to introduce you to this week’s guest poster who volunteered to stretch his writing muscles while I’m off stretching some faith muscles. Eric Dowler and I go to the same church, and I’ve known him for several years. He talks about his love of music in the following guest post, but as someone who has opportunities to hear him play a variety of instruments, I can assure you he really does have a gift. It actually runs in his family, along with a deep love for Jesus. But I’ll let him introduce himself to you in the following post. I’m sure he’d be happy to answer your comments and questions, if you have any!
In His love,
“Music” by Eric Dowler
I am a musician—a performer, composer, spectator, applauder, teacher, student, and connoisseur of Music. Sound is my medium. Music is the link between my soul and the world. Oftentimes, through Music I can convey more emotion than with words. It’s how I tell people that I’m not having a good day or show them that my life is full of Joy. It consoles me when I need comfort and encourages me when I’ve been discouraged seemingly beyond repair. It’s a friend that never talks, but always speaks. It inspires me to live. It’s my greatest Passion…and will always be.
Martin Luther was a prominent Protestant protester and professor of theology (say That 3 times fast) in the 16th century. While he spent much of his time combating corruption with the Word of God and writing Theses, he was also a musician and wrote some of my favorite hymns. A quote of his inspires me: “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” Now that statement isn’t Biblical, but it was said by a biblical man, which holds some merit, right?
Music has evolved quite a bit since 1517, when Martin Luther published the 95 Theses. It used to be heard primarily in chapels and cathedrals—choral compositions and sung psalms. As more instruments and styles were invented, though, music transformed from a reverent form of worship into jubilant dances and entertaining operas; somber serenades and compelling concertos; knee-slapping jigs and pride-swelling military marches. Through centuries of evolution and the work of hundreds of composers and performers, we have the music we know today (though some genres seem to have sadly Devolved into a tragic excuse for Noise). But for the Music that Is still musical, I believe his quote still holds true.
That was a really long way of saying this: We (my bro Marty and I) want you to appreciate Music as a magnificent art form, and if you do, your life will be much richer. If you didn’t already appreciate music as a gift from God (which seems completely impossible, but there are some weird people out there…some of which may have meandered onto Anna’s blog?), I hope you make an extra effort to open your ears—hear the wonderful beauty around you and smile.
Now because Anna’s blog IS entitled “For His Glory”, I reckon I should put a biblical reference in here (which, according to Martin Luther is THE greatest treasure in the world…my writing has So much treasure!). I should teach you what I can about life in Christ. I’m going to base my preaching on a Bible verse, of course: “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft.”—Exodus 35:31-33.
I know I spent 4 long paragraphs nagging about how wonderful Music is, but there are many more art forms than that of sound—all of which are beautiful gifts from God to us, his children. We humans have 5 physical senses, of course: sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste. Each of these senses yields opportunity for the creation of pleasing aesthetic art. This art is not the accomplishment of mere humanism, though. God has filled the world with talented people like my friend Bezalel mentioned above; evidence of God’s miracle-working walks all around us.
I believe there are several reasons why He has created a world of Art. Art keeps us busy and engages our minds to think at their full capacities. Art gets us ever-closer to satisfying our natural curiosity of the world and ourselves. Art communicates ideas from one soul into another. Art gives us a passion for life and allows us to see the natural beauty in every day. Art connects us to one another across cultural boundaries, language boundaries, generational boundaries, and idealistic boundaries. I love the story a great mentor of mine told me that epitomizes the purpose of Art:
“I played a tune with someone from The Netherlands when I first got to New York. We didn’t know each other at all, but after we finished our duet, we smiled and hugged each other. It was a prime example of how the language of music is so universal. Music heals, saves, and unifies souls.”
How heart-felt and meaningful! I mean, Art is just the Bomb, right? Well, it’s great for sure, but I think the BEST explanation of the existence of art is found in another Bible verse (see: I’m practicing using quotes, for 11th grade AP Lit requires a plethora of them) : “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltery and harp.”—Psalm 150:3. See, it’s great to do all the stuff we do on Earth with the arts, but that doesn’t even compare to what we can do when we add God into the equation (of course, He’s God!). Now that’s simple enough, everybody: just whip out your psalteries and praise our Creator with a poetic opus.
Or, do you not have a psaltery? …Right. Well, since neither of us has ever played or held or seen or even heard of one, let’s just make it a metaphorical psaltery. Everyone has one, in That case. You were given a talent; a divinely inspired ability to do Something. You may know what it is, or you may still be wandering to find it, but everyone has one. Of course it takes practicing and nurturing to become its full potential (you may have a gift, but you’ve got to open it), but you don’t have to be a true virtuoso in order to make a difference if you’re doing what God calls you to do.
Just look at Anna’s example; her psaltery is the Pen (or keyboard in this case) and she can sing a very lovely opus with it. One of my mother’s psalteries is the spatula and she can sing a very Tasty opus with it. I’ve seen psalteries in the shapes of crayons, hammers and nails, stethoscopes, and open arms that hug—each with a soothing song of love and comfort; each being played by people that love God and love other people.
Basically, all that I’ve said is supposed to support my 5 theses (95 would take Way too long) :
1. Music—and all Art—is a beautiful gift from God.
2. God has given me the gift (a special ability and affinity) of Music.
3. I try to use my gift ‘For His Glory’.
4. Everyone has been granted a talent of some sort; find it and master it.
5. If your relationship with God is right, you should have a natural propensity to use your special abilities for His cause.
I was a little out of my genre writing something so personal, as I generally spend my time being the Bard of Nivalis (or Leumas Relwood, in the common vernacular) writing poems and stories and songs about fantasy worlds and histories (namely the mighty Nation of Rambonia). Despite this, I hope you learned something about my greatest passion: Music.
Go Forth and Conquer (In Jesus’ name, of course),
Gladium, Loquela, des Muses.