Thursday, May 13, 2010
My memory of a great performance did not happen in a concert hall, in front of thousands. There were no flowers thrown, no standing ovations, no million dollar pay days. It was in a small classroom, a very small classroom. There was a dry erase board across the front wall, and there were desks, the space saver kind of desks, with the writing area barely the size of a sheet of paper. Fifteen violin and viola students sat in these desks, facing the white board, facing a lone inexpensive upright piano that was currently not being played. Fahad, however, was playing. His violin was beautiful, with dark varnish and tight grain. He is never satisfied with his instrument. That instrument is already long gone from his possession. At this moment, though, it was serving his purpose. Fahad played a Partita by J.S. Bach, staying fluid on one string and using a wide arm vibrato. We sat quietly, wide awake and wide eyed. When he finished, there wasn't even any need to applaud. Our professor's comment on his performance was almost as gorgeous as the previous moment. "Fahad, that was sensitive and mature playing." This comment, to me, became a grail.
I found out recently that not everyone in the world was a musician. Before I was a music major, I stood out; Ryan, Luke and I stood out. People told me that I loved music just a little more than everyone else, and I believed them. I had done it my whole life. It was only natural to go be a music major. I knew the talk, and I knew the life and so did all the other music majors. I was better at theory than most, I was slightly older than most, and I had more performing experience than most, but the fact remains that I was not the best violist there. I tried, but my constant rank was "most improved." I learned to hate that title. I graduated, cum laud, even, and moved away to find a "day job" and support my family. I found a part time job teaching violin, where I surprised myself when I excelled. I had to rediscover who and where I was. At school, we were all stars, and our luminance was so bright that individuals could not be spotted in the night sky. I have room to shine, now. I play as often as I can, and have earned my own coveted compliment. "When you play, I can hear the words."
Friday, April 30, 2010
For example, President Obama recently removed the ban on offshore drilling. He called this a concession to bipartisanship, but I don't understand how. To me, it was throwing a bone to the conservatives. "Here is a concession, so shut up." This action could not have pleased the left, though, or environmentalists and people concerned with our planet. Bill Waterson said via Calvin and Hobbes "A Good Compromise Leaves Everyone Unhappy." The second the oil rig blew up, though, he yanked it right out of their mouths. I'm sure this action made his party happy with him (except, of course, for the Democrats on the Southern Coast where the Oil Business is so key) but left others reeling. Are our lawmakers trying? They speak of filibusters, majorities to avoid filibusters, midnight meetings and rush jobs before the other group has time to react.
Is this bipartisanship? Is there really no middle ground? I think most of you know I lean very conservative, but I really despise the righteous indignation that seems to characterize Conservblicans (think Fox News). Everywhere, people are so angry. Are party differences so drastic that this is really and truly war?
I really don't know what to do about it. I am a man of action; I actively take care of my family, and everyone else I can. What can I do for my country, because it is not doing for itself. I vote, but I don't trust anyone for whom I vote; not because I am afraid that they won't make my decision, but because I don't believe that they believe in the decisions that they are making. My current feeling is that I should start writing weekly letters to all politicians who represent me to tell them that I expect them to make the very best decisions they can.
Anyone who wants to be a politician, shouldn't.
Friday, April 23, 2010
We've been seeing some great posts and dialogues here recently, with David M's poetry, my exposition on losing faith, and Dave V's thoughtful look at Avatar providing some really interesting thoughts. Keep it up! I have been unable to find anything that even compares to this blog here in my local surroundings, so I'm really thankful that we have the chance to do this.
Okay, enough cheerleading.
A new link has been added to the blog. Check out Mike Banys' artwork at his new site: http://www.michaelbanysart.org.
I've also added the link to my reverbnation page, where I post all of my music.
Take it easy, friends. And keep the words coming!
Being a part of the Evangelical Christian world I know there have been mixed reactions to the movie, especially concerning its spiritual themes. Let me just say as a Christian I do not believe we should worship the creation rather than the creator, and in this sense I don’t feel that the Na’vi offer a flawless example of how I ought to revere nature. But despite this, I feel the movie speaks a very powerful message. Since I have yet to see Christians racing to present so vividly and successfully their perspective on the value of nature to the general public, I will make no apologies for admiring the allegedly pantheistic threat to Christianity that is Avatar.
I also realize some may argue that without the special effects and visuals the movie would not be nearly as good because the story wasn’t the greatest. And it is true that the story wasn’t all that original, the acting wasn’t exceptional, and the plot had some holes in it. However, I would argue that the imagery and effects used in Avatar serve as a major component of the story, and at least help to deliver some of the powerful messages found within the story.
The amazing artistry and special effects coupled with the strange, intriguing new world of Pandora helps summon the awe, wonder and respect we’ve lost for our own world. One of the most impressive things we notice about Pandora is how everything in its natural state provides for the Na’vis’ most basic practical needs as well as for their leisurely enjoyment. We are also reminded that this provision only continues in conjunction with the Na’vi treating Pandora with respect and care. However, this seems to come naturally to the Na’vi, for they have not lost their sense of awe and wonder towards their natural home. With that awe and wonder comes respect; and in this they find great contentment and joy relying on their planet and it’s abundant, timely provision. Why seek to replace or outdo such an amazing, faithful source of life?
As our respect and wonder for our planet wanes, rather than gratefully partaking of its natural system of provision we seek to replicate and/or replace it through our own technological advances.
As the big screen swoops us through Pandora’s spiraling forest, oversized leaves, and sideways tree trunks, we are in unspeakable awe of the planet’s beauty, majesty and design. In reality, that should be our reaction to our own planet in everyday real life. The natural planet we reside on ought to fascinate us and inspire in us a deep sense of reverence and loyalty.
For those of us who were overtaken with horror as the troops recklessly plowed through the Na'vi forest to uproot their source of survival and sustenance, we must ask ourselves: do we feel that same sense of horror when we see comparable injustices carried out in our own planet? Does it ache us at all to know that much of our daily life and experience is the result of such injustices-not just towards others, but towards ourselves? When we enjoy the privilege of being amidst unadulterated nature do we wonder why there isn’t more of it? Do we deeply mourn at the sad reality that there once was much more but we did away with it?
I’m not suggesting we pray to trees or find some means of spiritual connectivity with plants and animals. I’m suggesting that as a Christian I ought to see the Earth as something precious, something my God thoughtfully crafted with all of His infinite wisdom and creativity to sustain itself so long as we allow it. And I ought to wonder why we systematically take such crappy care of it all. And maybe as we explore these ideas it will change the way we see everything...or even better, we will change the way we do everything.
Monday, March 15, 2010
This is an excerpt from an email exchange I’ve been having with a friend of mine who was curious about my spiritual journey over the last few years. Personal references have, of course, been omitted and I’ve reshaped some of the transitions in order to accommodate this forum. Just so you know, it's pretty long.
I would like to state that this is not a detailed explanation of my beliefs, but merely an overview of my journey and where it’s led me. This writing isn’t about proving that I’m right, but merely demonstrating how I got to where I am.
It's great stuff for those of us who are gloriously ignorant of common Hindu beliefs (i.e. me).