“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Ludwig van Beethoven
In the great treasury of music, I keep finding myself coming back again and again to Beethoven. You may think it's because he was one of the greatest composers who ever lived despite his deafness. That is true, everybody loves great music and everybody loves an over-comer. But there's something more that keeps drawing me back to Beethoven. Until recently I found it difficult to identify what that 'something' was until I saw a certain documentary about his life. (Warning: the documentary can be found at the end of this post and is nearly an hour long.)

At the end of the program I heard a number of people make comments that came close. One said, "The reason he is the greatest composer is that he's prepared to share his life with you more than any other composer." Another person said this about Beethoven's music: "In sadness there is hope, where it's hopeful it's sad." Still another commented, "A great piece of music is like a mirror. Everyone sees himself." 

It's true. 

Instruments Beethoven used
to try and hear
In Beethoven's music I see his struggle with his deafness, despairing then hopeful, quiet beauty then explosive defiant energy. I hear his stark anguish and celebration, despair and victory, beauty and pain. He knows the struggle against disability yet still rises to ability. And I think to myself, "That's the unstated message: The human spirit can triumph against adversity, it can find possibilities in impossibilities. The human spirit seeks ability even in disability."

Beethoven's music is like a mirror that demands the listener to enter those emotional and spiritual aspects that make us human. Beethoven put his humanity at the center of his music. He shows the listener open and emotionally naked vulnerability. In Beethoven's vulnerability we are reminded of our own.

The last person to comment in the documentary below captures the essence of Beethoven best for me:

"The thing about Beethoven that impresses me the most is his remarkable generosity in his music. This man who had a stormy and difficult life, a lot of conflict in it, returns again and again to the most important piece to the most telling moments, to a kind of deep, grateful, hymn-like utterance -- as if to say life is good, it's all worth it."

That's it! That is why I find myself continually coming back to the music of Beethoven. It is a declaration that despite tragedy and trials, life is worth while.*

[Click image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHo7-PMXf9Q . Great Composers: Ludwig van Beethoven}

* I previous wrote about Beethoven in a blog post entitled, "Transcending disability". 

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