Thursday, October 23, 2014

Charisms in Art and Beauty

Receiving the Charisms of the Holy Spirit through Art & Music

     I did not grow up in a charismatic environment. My first exposure to the gifts of the Holy Spirit occurred at a youth conference in 2003 during adoration. To this day, I am very thankful that I was surrounded by people who could help me fully understand what was taking place. For some, it is often difficult to comprehend the Holy Spirit’s manifestation through human vessels as being both miraculous and beautiful. Gifts such as tears of joy and healing, laughter, resting, wisdom, and tongues are not often expressed in your regular Sunday liturgy.

     Full disclosure: I, personally, have never received any of the beautiful gifts of the Holy Spirit in the context of Sacred Liturgy, Adoration, or any prayer service. However, I will never forget the first time I received the gifts of laughter and tears on stage. I was performing Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”, specifically the “Jupiter” movement. Apart from most of the movement sounding brilliantly whimsical and grand, there is a slower section in the middle where Holst quotes the hymn “Oh God, Beyond All Praising.” It is meticulously orchestrated, and builds in both intensity and voicing through to the end. I did not anticipate receiving gifts in that moment, but as the slower section began, so did I begin to weep. For those of you who are musicians, surely there have been moments on stage where you have been able to taste Heaven. This was my first. It has happened more times that I can keep track of since, and in many contexts including: orchestra, folk groups, big band groups, gospel groups, rock, and even r&b. It has happened to me on both sides of the stage, and has helped me grow in both my vocation and faith.

     The Holy Spirit authors beauty through the artist. The artist creates and gives the gift of his/herself through his/her work to the bride, the (in the case of music) listener. The listener receives that gift of self and also receives the Holy Spirit through the work. The bride is inspired. This beautiful cycle is only possible is the artist is able to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe that he/she can only receive the gifts if his intentions with his/her artwork are pure and honest. In order to receive, we must be willing to receive.

     While I believe in a God that can make all things possible, I also believe that this will be the only way for me to receive the charisms of the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t discourage me by any means, but instead, affirms me in my vocation to music and beauty. I was beautifully and wonderfully made to create beautiful and wonderful things that are also authored by the Holy Spirit through me, and that is the same for any man or woman who is gifted with the ability to create beauty and called to her vocation. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Beauty's Blur

Beauty’s Blur

            We are a people originally meant for ecstasy. Ecstasy is fruit of a pure union. A union is the product of beauty. Beauty is the gift of self. Apply this to everything, and hopefully I’ll see you in heaven! Kthanks.

Bad elevator music*….

            Ok, I’ll elaborate. Why is the 2nd movement of Shostakovich’s second piano concerto considered so powerful and emotive? At the time Dmitri Shostakovich was finally able, after many years, to compose music free of censorship. His audience could finally realize the composer’s full countenance through his music. What you hear in this movement is, what I believe, the full gift of himself. It is tragic, romantic, and a little cynical simultaneously. That’s what makes it beautiful. When I hear it, I can relate to it. I make it my own, and am able to empathize with Dmitri. That is the union. The ecstasy is the great sentiment of consolation and gratification the piece leaves me with.
            Why is it so important to know what constitutes a beautiful thing? If there is one thing that will destroy the world, it will be the complete and total misunderstanding of what beauty is. The line that clearly defines what is and is not beautiful in this world is that which is the most skewed by evil. Now, for the sake of simplicity across different beliefs, lets just refer to this evil as dark forces, the Sith, Saron, the devil, and/ or Roger Goodell (I’m still bitter about bounty-gate). His method is to take something that is not, by my definition, beautiful and give it the illusion of beauty. Why is this his method? Well first, we are a people who were made to desire beauty. This method plays to our desires, and fools us into thinking that his cheap imitation of beauty is an authentic one. For example: the greatest and most beautiful thing ever created, in my opinion (and I’m not fishing for points here), is Woman. As a man, I have an imbedded desire for a woman because woman is beautiful, and I desire beauty. The fruition of a truly beautiful experience with a woman will be my complete gift of self to her. An alternately lesser experience would be for a man to give himself to an image or form of media that reduces the beauty of woman to her base parts. The line becomes blurry when the temporarily gratifying experience with the “reduced” woman is perceived as beautiful one and not a cheap and quick imitation.
            That’s just an example. My biggest issue on the matter deals primarily with when this process is applied to the arts. Music, visual art, dance, film, theater, poetry, and architecture can be the quickest paths to experiencing true beauty. Take the opportunity, and don’t settle!