All the World's a Classroom

Captivated by Music

Captivated by Music

I’m a bit of a musical junkie. Ok, not a bit… a lot. I think the most enchantingly talented individuals are the musical theatre people. The sound that comes out of these human beings is just marvelous. When they’re on stage, it’s like the human anatomy become an instrument, with sound waves traveling through the biological cavities, all working together for a single purpose: to make music. They sing with all their being and the artistic creation that comes out of this process is simply amazing.

The thing that’s interesting is, say an actor or actress performs some of the songs in a concert, in a setting that isn’t within a storyline, but it’s the same song, same tune, and same lyrics. Somehow, the performance isn’t as powerful as when they’re in character and in the story (source: casual observations from a bunch of YouTube videos). It was quite a curious case.

So perhaps to say the obvious, I think the difference is exactly that – the storyline. When they sing at some function, they’re not as much in character and the song becomes just a nice song, a mixture between lyrics and notes. But when they’re in character, all the expression and emotion blend in, adding another dimension to the music, and giving it a certain transcendence that can create goose bumps to those who witness the performance. The words come from the heart and from the experience of the character, and the music communicates both to the conscious and the subconscious.

Basically the point is there’s a difference between a song that is sung and a song that is experienced; the quality of the music is noticeably distinct.

There’s a verse in Revelation that I always think kind of cool. “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. And they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders, and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Revelation 14:2-3.

There’s also a hymn that says the following:

Holy, holy, is what the angels sing

And I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring

But when I sing redemption’s story, they will fold their wings

For angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings

(Hymn title: Holy, Holy, is What the Angels Sing. All the lyrics are relevant to this thought)

Could it be that in heaven, singing something that one hasn’t experienced is not allowed? Could it be that singing something without meaning it is akin to lying?

The song we sing is and should be closely related to our experiences. Our songs of praise are distinct from one another’s. When David said that “He hath put a new song in my mouth” (Ps 40:3), it meant that He has given him a new experience with Him.

Which brings me to a source of bewilderment when I’m in a church with a congregation that is so timid during singing time. Have we not experienced the goodness of God?

The most beautiful songs are the ones sung with the heart and with the whole being. I’m sure those are the songs God likes to hear as well.

Les Miserables in Grand Rapids, MI

Me with Les Mis cast member - Marius Pontmercy

The Elias, who are all pretty much musical junkies

The Reader’s Dilemma

A few weeks ago, on one of those Saturday night excursions to Barnes & Nobles, I purchased a 50% off Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas, a recently well reviewed biography by my nonexistent/unofficial book club comprising of several close, book-worm friends. It’s a 608-paged book.

When the Amazon’s Kindle got added to my gadget collections this past weekend, my plan was to return the book, which was only $9.99 to begin with, and purchase the Kindle version, priced at $7.99. The plan was intact during this week, since I didn’t have much time to think about it again, due to the terribleness of the past six days. Until tonight…

Tonight was the scheduled time to return to B&N to execute the plan. Then something happened. Doubts started to arise in my heart whether to actually return the book or not. I even wondered if I should bother going to B&N at all. But I still decided to take the book and the receipt with me, just in case I still wanted to return the book after I completed other errands.

I did end up going to B&N, still undecided. I called my good friend, Amy Sheppard, recent attorney, for counsel: should I return it or not? At the end of that conversation, I was leaning towards not returning the book.

Then I browsed around the store. Then I decided to get some Starbucks’ soy steamer and sit at the café reading from my Kindle, which has been my life companion ever since it came into my possession. I’m currently reading (among other books) Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dillemma, borrowed from the eBook collection of Princeton’s Public Library (hence, the title of this blog post). During this hour or so, I was reminded of the joy and convenience of reading from this new toy. At some point, I decided, yea I’ll return the book. I’ll look over the pictures and photographs attached to the print version, return it, and buy the Kindle version.

Then I pulled out the book, looked over the pictures, and read the introduction. It looks like such a great book to own! From this point on, I was pretty much changing my mind every minute. Do I want to haul this big book around? Not really, but at the same time, I still don’t mind hauling Condi’s even thicker book around right now. The eBook is definitely the practical choice, but owning the print feeds to my vanity as well. To display a good quality, thick book on the shelf, and saying that I’ve read that one – I mean that just feels good. But it’s not just vanity; the book itself looks really nice, with a layout that is friendly to the eyes. Will the Kindle version reflect the niceness of it all? What if I want to go back to certain quotes a lot?

And so I went on debating my own self, back and forth, back and forth.

The verdict: I went home with the print version in my hand. Hah! And you know what? In a few days or weeks I might even succumb to buying the Kindle version as well! Indulgent? Yea, maybe. But hey, I’m a book lover and I just haven’t figured out this print vs. eBook thing quite yet.

The reason that I didn’t return the book was not because I think print wins over eBook necessarily – it’s just that the act of returning a book is too hard to go through! The book was already bought. It was already mine, and it’s irreversible. I just couldn’t let it go.

Hi, my name is Josephine and I’m an obsessive bookworm.

Beautifully Written

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes one who will augment our loves.” For in this love “to divide is not to take away.” Of course the scarcity of kindred souls-not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices-set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way. doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another. The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.” – C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves, p. 61-62.


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