Not All Violin Music is Old School…

[vs_row width=”boxed” container=”fixed” background=”none” solid_color_value=”#FFFFFF” solid_color_color=”#ffffff” gradient_color=”0% #FFFFFF,100% #000000″ gradient_direction=”vertical” repeat=”full” stretch=”none” position=”center center” paralax=”no” paralax_ratio=”0″ border_width_value_=”0″ border_style=”solid” border_color=”#000″ div_padding_top=”72″ div_padding_bottom=”72″ div_padding_right=”0″ div_padding_left=”0″ ][vs_column span=”span12″][vs_text enable_dropcap=”no” animation=”no” disabled_el=”no” ]… at least strictly speaking. Not too long ago, the song in the video above began to play at the start of a workout at my gym. Before we got a few bars into the song, one of the people requested we skip to the next track. He may not have asked because he’s a classical music hater, but for fear it didn’t have a good beat to drive the workout. Listening to the first several seconds of the song, one would assume this is some sort of classical piece led by a very strong violin. Or perhaps some sort of Muzak piece à la Kenny G. We were already several seconds into the next song before I realized missed my opportunity to say, “Just give it a few more seconds…” Not all violin music is old school – definitely not Lindsey Stirling. Stirling incorporates heavy beats and electronic elements into her songs – elements that complement the melody led by the violin. I love it! Even though I’ve listened to her stuff a lot, that experience in the gym got me thinking about how much I think Stirling’s style is a fantastic metaphor for what I think the church should be up to. The violin is an instrument that carries a stigma of what kind of music can be played on it – many people believe it can only be played as a classical instrument. Joshua Bell, perhaps the best violinist of our time, plays a particular brand of music – mostly orchestral and mostly classical. While many a violin can summon up various emotions within us, depending on how it is played, most people who prefer modern day rock or hip-hop are likely to yawn whenever they hear a violin. The reverberations of the strings on the wooden body elicit beauty that reminisces of a long ago day. Even original pieces written for the violin now still evoke a feeling of the analog that clashes with our modern-day digital sentiments. I don’t blame my friend at the gym for assuming this song wasn’t going to be something worth working out to – perhaps it would be better suited for a night out with a date wearing a tux or a fancy dress. This same feeling emerges sometimes when I step into a church – we seem to value a sentimentality that sounds like something out of step with the modern world; not because it’s counter-cultural in the ways of the kingdom, but because the rest of the world has simply moved on and drummed up a different beat. Many of our churches recite prayers using King James era english and even though we have no idea what we’re saying, we refuse to switch to a more modern version that actually communicates meaning. Or we still use flannelgraphs (bonus old school points if you know what that is) to tell Bible stories to children even though they’ve grown up with smartphones and digital tablets (or if you’re like my congregation, you have one that you put back up after taking it down to paint the walls even though you never use it). We want to stay true to a message that has been crafted over two millennia (even longer if you account for our Hebrew ancestry) but we can’t seem to figure out how to communicate (or even sometimes understand) that to a world that lives in a very different time. In some ways I think we’ve settled for a faith that proclaims the Holy Ghost instead of a living, breathing, moving Holy Spirit – a divine being who is very much still speaking. Which is why I think I like Lindsey Stirling’s music so much – it takes an old school medium, the violin, and pairs it with the modern sound so well. She is able to blend the two in a way that we should be able to blend the traditional faith of our ancestors with our modern storytelling. The two styles don’t have to be separate – instead they can blended together, forming a fantastic sound. Jesus did it all the time – he would quote a text from the Hebrew scriptures and then turn around and elaborate on it in a way the people he was speaking to would understand. Maybe it’s time we figure out how to better blend the two styles together – traditional and modern/post-modern. Because a faith that doesn’t connect to our daily lives isn’t really faith at all – it’s just sentimentality.  [/vs_text][/vs_column][/vs_row]

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