Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Defense of the Arts

Take a look at this article from Christianity Today’s website. Titled “Saying More than We Can Say,” it defends the value of the arts even in light of ever-shrinking spending habits as a result of the current recession. I was personally very glad to read this article, and not just because my future career depends on the existence of a demand for the arts, but also because I genuinely believe that the arts are the best ways to declare the glory of God.

First a word to my friends in the sciences: I have always been a strong believer of science’s ability to soften some of the effects of sin (e.g., medicine, psychiatry, technology), and I it was in my high school math classes that I realized how strongly the simplicity behind the complexity in mathematics reflects the majesty of the Creator. I have no end of gratitude for the brain God gave me that allowed me to study the sciences at an advanced level in high school and foster my appreciation for them.

Which leads to what I believe is science’s shortcoming: it is somewhat inaccessible. A physician can see for himself or herself the “fearfully and wonderfully made” nature of the human body, but how many people are able to go to medical school?

I would argue that the arts are not so inaccessible. To be sure, just as not everyone can go to medical school, not everyone can be a professional sculptor or violinist (but I am Facebook friends with some future professional violinists, so I am perfectly content with not being one myself). The difference is that the threshold for engaging in the sciences is higher than for the arts. A child at play will far more likely be doing something of an artistic nature than of a scientific nature.

(Allow me to pause to define the two adjectives artistic and scientific. For my purposes, artistic is synonymous with creative, and scientific is synonymous with investigative.)

Because the arts are so accessible, the Church can more readily use this medium to point people toward Christ. And one can quickly see that local churches do in their music ministries, which in some churches may include or be augmented by drama and other creative arts ministries (and what would Vacation Bible School be without craft time?).

Last fall, I began the music history sequence as part of my major requirements at Wheaton College. My professor for Baroque and Classical Eras in the fall and Nineteenth Century Music this past spring, Dr. Jonathan Saylor, showed us that the hearts of many composers in the classical literature were focused on Christ, resulting in some of the most beautiful music in history. Their compositions were their cries of adoration to their Savior. And what (Who) else would have inspired the medieval church to build soaring cathedrals? What (Who) was behind the painters and sculptors of the Renaissance when they painted and sculpted images from the gospels?

Engage the arts…for the glory of God.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Early Summer Musings

The people who know me well will roll their eyes but will not be at all surprised when I state that I know exactly how long my summer break is: 98 days (which is exactly fourteen weeks). Today, Tuesday, is day 29, or one day past the four-week mark.

My obsessive counting skills aside, this first almost-month seems to have gone rather fast, despite the fact that my prediction in my last post was correct: I have only had a handful of days where I had scheduled activities between getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. I do at times miss the incessant pace of classes, rehearsals, meetings, and everything else that (very colorfully, as I use iCal) fills my schedule during the school year, but I have enjoyed the chance thus far this summer to read for pleasure, watch movies, and sleep. The first four weeks were not without its highlights.

As I mentioned in my last post, for the fourth summer in a row, I am in the seasonal employ of the Park District of Oak Park. To be honest, the weather has not been kind to us thus far: we have had more than a few days on which the outdoor air temperature was too low to open the pool. But (speaking for myself), the quieter work environment has given me a chance to reorient myself to the procedures, some of which have changed for this season.

Also, thank God for communication technology. Keeping up with friends scattered across the country and around the world (so many of my friends are spending time in Europe at some point this summer) is never easy, but it is made less difficult with such efficient technology that my generation really does take for granted. I have also been privileged to see a few of my friends from school in person since the end of the spring semester, and I hope the trend continues.

This Sunday, Oak Park and River Forest High School will celebrate its One Hundred and Thirty-Third Commencement. One of the distinguished members of the Class of 2009 is my younger brother, Paul. (The reactions of many of my childhood friends on realizing that Paul is graduating from high school were quite amusing.) And the forecast looks good, so the ceremony should be outside.

Todd Wilson, senior pastor at my home church, Calvary Memorial, started a new sermon series on the Book of Titus three Sundays ago. Pastor Todd was called to the pastorate quite literally the weekend I moved back to school in August, so I have only had sporadic exposure to his preaching in the nine months of the school year. I am really pleased that I will be in town and in the pews for the entirety of this series, which so far has been good.

And, as always, my summer involves following the triumphs and trials of the Chicago Cubs. I went to a game at Wrigley for the first time in a few years with an old friend two weeks ago, and quite enjoyed myself.

In short, my summer is going well. Nothing overly dramatic, but God forbid I ever underestimate the value of rest.

This is Rubio, over and out.