I've been confronted this week with my deep poverty of imagination and understanding on the concept of "power" as it relates to art. Part of my deep frustration with the powerlessness of which I wrote a few days ago is that I don't rightly know what the concept means as related to art, music, church music, the church itself, etc.
“You can kill people with sound.”
And so it seems to us at the blog at Sinden.org that the time is right hold a colloquium on the questions of power and art, and explore how these concepts relate to music within the liturgy of the church.
The ever helpful Maria Popova gets us started on the value of arts
This is the power of art: The power to transcend our own self-interest, our solipsistic zoom-lens on life, and relate to the world and each other with more integrity, more curiosity, more wholeheartedness.
Wholeheartedness leads to thoughts of Brené Brown, and (artistic) vulnerability of which I expect we will have plenty to say later. Note that the title of her TED talk uses the P word: The Power of Vulnerability
Which leads us to think maybe the power of art as found in its vulnerability could really be thought of as "weakness". I'd love to unpack the paradox here, and I may later reach for a title by theologian Marva Dawn, Joy in our Weakness.
There are moments on this blog when "power", as it is connected to art, music, and the church, has already surfaced.
Here are a few:
“If we consider what sort of music we should want to hear on entering a church we should surely, in describing our ideal, say first of all that it must be something different from what is heard elsewhere; that it should be a sacred music devoted to its purpose, a music whose peace should still passion; whose dignity should strengthen our faith; whose unquestioned beauty should find a home in our hearts to cheer us in life and death. What a powerful good such music would have”.
“You can kill people with sound.”
It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.
And these words of music critic Alex Ross, which find their way on to this blog for the first time:
“Art does not stand apart from reality; if it did, it would have no life in it, no light, no darkness, no power.”
"As If Music Could Do No Harm." The New Yorker, Cultural Comment Blog, 20 August 2014
“Art does not stand apart from reality; if it did, it would have … no power.”
As I look back over the ten year history of this blog (has it really been that long?) it seems that strands of this colloquium have been emerging for some time. I'm happy to try to collect these different strands into a more directed conversation. I am eager to see what emerges.
To bring this brief tour full circle for now, art, which Alex Ross so powerfully notes "does not stand apart from reality", has a peculiar kind of power. I believe this power is best explained by Thomas Merton summarizes when he says
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
The page you're reading is part of Sinden.org
©MMXVII Sinden.org: a site for fun and prophet
Looking for Carol Spreadsheets?
Hungry? Try the Liturgical Guide to Altoids Consumption
Thirsty? Try the Tibia Liquida
The Eric Harding Thiman Fan Page: The greatest composer you've never even heard of.
Questions? Problems? email the sexton.
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Book of Common Prayer
The Daily Office
The Lectionary Page
Ship of Fools
The Sub-Dean's Stall
Vested Interest - Trinity Church in the City of Boston
Andrew Kotylo - Concert Organist
Bonnie Whiting, percussion
conjectural navel gazing: jesus in lint form
Friday Night Organ Pump
Halbert Gober Organs, Inc.
in time of daffodils
Joby Bell, organist
Musings of a Synesthete
My Life as Style, Condition, Commodity.
Nathan Medley, Countertenor
Notes on Music & Liturgy
The Parker Quartet
Roof Crashers & Hem Grabbers
That Which We Have Heard & Known
This Side of Lost
Zachary Wadsworth | composer
Advent (Medfield MA)
All Saints, Ashmont (Boston MA)
All Saints (Indianapolis IN)
Atonement (Bronx NY)
Broadway UMC (Indianapolis IN)
Cathedral of All Saints (Albany NY)
Christ Church (Bronxville NY)
Christ Church (Madison IN)
Christ Church (New Haven CT)
Christ Church Cathedral (Indianapolis IN)
Christ's Church (Rye NY)
Church of St. Stephen (Hamden CT)
Congregational (Belmont CA)
Coventry Cathedral (UK)
First UMC (Lancaster SC)
Gloria Dei ELCA (Iowa City IA)
Immanuel Lutheran (St Paul MN)
Immanuel Lutheran (Webster NY)
John Knox PCUSA (Houston TX)
St Andrew (Marblehead MA)
St Andrew's, Oregon Hill (Richmond VA)
St Bartholomew the Great, (London, England)
St James's (Lake Delaware NY)
St James's (Richmond VA)
St James Cathedral (Chicago IL)
St Mary's Cathedral (Memphis TN)
St Matthew and St Timothy (NYC)
St Paul's (Cleveland Heights OH)
St Paul's (Indianapolis IN)
St Paul's Cathedral (Buffalo NY)
St Paul's, K Street (Washington DC)
St Peter's (Lakewood OH)
St Peter's ELCA (NYC)
St Stephen's (Richmond VA
St Thomas (New Haven CT)
St Thomas ELCA (Bloomington IN)
Second PCUSA (Indianapolis IN)
Towson Presbyterian Church (MD)
Tremont Temple Baptist (Boston MA)
Trinity (Indianapolis IN)
Trinity on the goldenrod (New Haven CT)
Yes, but they're not the kind you buy on Wheel of Fortune.
the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.
interested in touch lamps?
And fountain pens.