Any discussion of worship, then, must begin with the biblical concern for worship as lifestyle, not merely as a formal gathering that features To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access. Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access. Already a subscriber? Log in to continue reading. To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.
To share this article with your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below. Sections Home. Prayer Abortion Fatherhood. Subscribe Subscriber Benefits Give a Gift. Subscribers receive full access to the archives. Reviews Commentary. By Gary A. Parrett January 28, When music speaks directly and profoundly to the psyche, it becomes a transformative force, acting on our physical, intellectual, and spiritual lives. These different aspects of human reality are given shape, substance, and direction when the ears are genuinely opened by the complexly discursive language of music, in full and fluent action.
Deep in our cultural traditions, we have felt the truth of this. From Pythagoras to T. Eliot, thinkers have recognized that a life without an active listening to and awareness of serious music is a life diminished. The lack of it damages countless individuals, and leads to a damaged society. We see this all around us, every day. And yet, even in our supposedly post-religious society, even the most agnostic and skeptical music-lovers will occasionally lapse into spiritual terminology to account for the impact of music. One hears of lives transformed by it, of moods and perspectives altered, of attitudes shifting and renewed meaning and purpose taking root in lives touched by music.
The active listening required by classical music, for example, may be said to be analogous to contemplation, meditation, and even prayer.
This kind of listening demands our time. The complex, large-scale forms of serious music unfold their narratives with an authority that cannot be hurried. Something of the essence of ourselves is sacrificed to music.
What is Christianity's "Thesis Statement"?
Whether we are performers, composers, or listeners, we are required to give something up: our precious time. Music gives us a glimpse of something beyond the horizons of materialism, or our contemporary values. What is music, after all? What is music? Is it simply the notes on the page? If so, how can we equate those strange, black, static symbols with the vivid, sometimes convulsive emotions provoked when the resulting sounds enter our ears, our brains, our bodies, and our secret selves?
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Here are three more clues. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in a sermon he preached some years ago at the Three Choirs Festival, summed it up as follows:. To listen seriously to music and to perform it are among our most potent ways of learning what it is to live with and before God, learning a service that is a perfect freedom…. Serious music presents a living challenge to the dead hand of things as they are. The boundless vision of composers through the ages points to the realization of ourselves as something greater than we think we are.
This is why lovers of music call it the most spiritual of the arts. Because of the general assumptions made about the triumph of disbelief in our culture, some misconceptions have arisen about modernity and the sacred as they relate to classical music. Sometimes it is more than misconception that is the problem, though. Sometimes the problems are spin and bias.
A fly on a wall told me an interesting story recently. The fly was at a meeting of the committee that runs one of the major university presses in the United Kingdom. A proposed series of books on music in the twentieth century was being discussed, seen from different perspectives—economic, political, nationalist, gender-based, and so on. Someone suggested that the series should include a book on music and religion.
This was abruptly dismissed. These were leading, highly intelligent academics. Somehow the religious dimensions of many significant musical figures of the last century had not ever been part of their consciousness, although the development of art music in the twentieth century saw the most serious resistance to the anti-religious consensus found elsewhere. Major modernist figures of the last hundred years were, in different ways, profoundly religious men and women. Stravinsky was as conservative in his religion as he was revolutionary in his musical imagination, with a deep love of his Orthodox roots as well as the Catholicism he encountered in the West.
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Schoenberg was a mystic who reconverted to practicing Judaism after the Holocaust and pondered deeply the spiritual connections between music and silence. This is probably the reason John Cage chose to study with him. Messiaen was famously Catholic, and every note of his unique contribution to music was shaped by a deep religious conviction and liturgical practice.
Far from a spent force, religion has proved a vibrant, animating principle in modern music, and continues to promise much for the future. This truth is a great encouragement to a composer like me, who have drawn inspiration from the deep reservoirs of Christian liturgy and theology. But it has also been a significant motivation in purely instrumental works like Veni, Veni Emmanuel, a percussion concerto which charts a kind of journey from Advent to Easter, and in my almost-completed Third Piano Concerto, which seeks to revive the practice of musical reflections on the Rosary.
Many people in the West think it strange and undesirable to seek to make and shape art according to religious belief and practice. But art can have many strange origins, so why should liturgical experience, for example, not be a catalyst for further exploration and creativity? And yet the bias against religious thinking can be pervasive and stark. I once shared a pre-concert talk platform with another composer and a well-known presenter who was asking us questions about our music in the program.
Merton explained that the connection between religious affiliation and interest in science was the result of a significant synergy between the ascetic Protestant values and those of modern science. The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers , encouraged some values which may have been conducive to encouraging scientific talents. A theory suggested by David Hackett Fischer in his book Albion's Seed indicated early Quakers in the US preferred "practical study" to the more traditional studies of Greek or Latin popular with the elite.
Another theory suggests their avoidance of dogma or clergy gave them a greater flexibility in response to science. Despite those arguments a major factor is agreed to be that the Quakers were initially discouraged or forbidden to go to the major law or humanities schools in Britain due to the Test Act. They also at times faced similar discriminations in the United States, as many of the colonial universities had a Puritan or Anglican orientation.
This led them to attend "Godless" institutions or forced them to rely on hands-on scientific experimentation rather than academia.
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Because of these issues it has been stated Quakers are better represented in science than most religions. Mention is made of this possibility in studies referenced in religiosity and intelligence and in a book by Arthur Raistrick. Whether this is still accurate, there have been several noteworthy members of this denomination in science.
An Reflection Based On The Ideal Of Worship As Empowerment
The following names a few. Christians particularly Nestorian Christians contributed to the Arab Islamic Civilization during the Ummayad and the Abbasid periods by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac and afterwards to Arabic. Centers of learning and of transmission of classical wisdom included colleges such as the School of Nisibis , and later the School of Edessa , and the renowned hospital and medical academy of Jundishapur ; libraries included the Library of Alexandria and the Imperial Library of Constantinople ; other centers of translation and learning functioned at Merv , Salonika , Nishapur and Ctesiphon , situated just south of what later became Baghdad.
Many well-known historical figures who influenced Western science considered themselves Christian such as Copernicus ,  Galileo ,  Kepler ,  Newton  and Boyle. Isaac Newton , for example, believed that gravity caused the planets to revolve about the Sun , and credited God with the design. In the concluding General Scholium to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica , he wrote: "This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being. According to Years of Nobel Prizes a review of Nobel prizes award between and reveals that Overall, Christians are considered a total of Events in Christian Europe , such as the Galileo affair , that were associated with the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment led scholars such as John William Draper to postulate a conflict thesis , holding that religion and science have been in conflict methodologically, factually and politically throughout history.
Carroll , Jerry Coyne , and Peter Atkins. While the conflict thesis remains popular in antitheistic circles, it has lost favor among most contemporary historians of science,     and the majority of scientists in elite universities in the U. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on Christian culture Christian culture.
American Catholic literature Bible fiction Christian drama Christian poetry Christian novel Christian science fiction Spiritual autobiography. See also: Catholic Church and evolution and Catholic Church and science. Main article: List of Jesuit scientists. See also: Quakers in science. See also: Christian influences in Islam and Byzantine science. In Van Huyssteen, Wentzel ed. Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. Macmillan Reference USA. Prelude, Galileo and his Sources. Les Origines de la statique 1. Paris: A.
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Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cosmology: From Alpha to Omega. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.