Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Embracing Beauty Inspired by Faith

Last night, I attended a performance by the Dallas Bach Society of Handel's Messiah. I try to attend a presentation of Messiah each year at Christmas, as I love the music. In addition to Messiah's musical brilliance, for anyone with ears to hear, it offers a remarkably clear presentation of what the message of Christianity is all about. I am not breaking the music down technically, but, roughly, Messiah can be outlined as follows (with one example from each section):

Promise of a Deliverer (Comfort Ye)
Fulfillment in the Birth of Jesus (For unto Us a Child Is Born)
Death of the Savior (Behold the Lamb of God)
Resurrection (Hallelujah)
The Meaning of It All (O Death, Where Is Thy Sting)
The End of the Age (Worthy Is the Lamb)

It is a tour de force expressing what Christianity is about, both Old Testament and New Testament, from the beginning to the end of the age. However, I have noted through the years that a large proportion of those who perform and attend these concerts do not describe themselves as Christians, and an even larger number are not evangelical in their faith. While many of them do not accept for themselves the message delivered in the music, they do appreciate the beauty of art produced during an era when western Christians, or persons whose worldview was informed by Christian themes, produced wonderful works of art as a part of their callings.

The sad irony of that is that many non-Christians appreciate this magnificent work far more than many Christians, some of whom sit in their culturally impoverished homes complaining about the "cultural elite." They should get out more.

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