February 19, 2014

Voice of the Revolution

There is no culture in the world that does not have music. Not a single one. If you want to know what's important to a culture, listen to the music the people hold most dear - the classics, the top 20, the ideas that cross between them. You'll know immediately, because music both shapes the people and is shaped by them - it is both formative and expressive. Not only do we find ourselves in art, but in it we also find something we'd like to become.

The stories told by musicians and painters and dancers and videographers and sculptors and poets and novelists and the myriad of other art forms available are the life of a culture. In and through our music, we express the longings we feel, the things that bring us pain and joy and everything in between. We pour ourselves into our art, whether we do it consciously or, most often, without even realizing it. And then it pours itself back into us; as we sing and bob with a tune stuck in our heads, as we admire an image, as our minds turn again to a character's predicament, the arts form us in ways no speech, no sermon, no textbook, nothing "objective" or "analytical" ever could. Creativity is as strongly tied to our emotional intelligence as it is to our knowledge and skills, which is why to learn something, you sing it, you draw it, or you tell a story about it. What makes you human becomes fully engaged when you engage art.  

So if you want to change a culture, you start with the arts.

This is clearly more easily said than done, but with an added catch: when you mess with someone's art, you're messing with his or her very soul. Like I said, art is one of the things that makes us human, it gives expression to the deepest emotions inside of us, and when we mess with that, we're putting ourselves at extreme risk.

But sometimes it's worth it.

According to Michael Frost, every revolution is driven by a song. For those things that are worth the risk, worth the suffering, worth the heartache, a song is penned. It is true that in the absence of risk, other art is created, but given something worthwhile, it is the artists who give voice to the revolution. It is their songs that drive us forward and remind us of why we started what we started, and it is those songs that drive us to finish or die trying.

We can sing our way to a new reality, a new way of acting, a new way of thinking, a new way of living. Worship in song, more than anything, drives the revolution. It reminds us who God has called us to become and then forms us into that People. 

"Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness."

No comments: