I was speaking with my wife about homeschooling curriculum and ideologies as we prepare to begin teaching our children and shaping their ever-growing young minds to absorb, appreciate, articulate, and apprehend that which God has done, is doing, and will ever do for us in His creation, Cross, and coming again.
We were discussing the merits of learning Latin (see HERE) when my mind gravitated towards this thought: The difference between music and noise is logic.
I know, I know: I just made your fantastical, over-romanticized idea about art and beauty more concrete and tangible than you are comfortable. It stings a little, doesn't it? To see music as you see math. We don't like math. We like music. It is fun to pick up a guitar and strum some chords (and who among us can resist an available piano bench seat and the opportunity to stab out a melody with our untrained fingers?).
The truth is that the order established by God makes art and beauty possible. Without order, there is chaos. Some wrongly believe that order is the enemy of beauty and that the closer to chaos you get the closer to genuine expressions of beauty you will find. The contrary is unalterably true. God created the world in such a way that cold, hard facts rule the roost. The grace of God is that these indefatigable, systematic rules produce beauty and artistry beyond what we wrongly call freedom and expression (largely often only excuses to be "one's self" without regulation).
I love logic. I love beauty. I love a good song. I love a undeniable truth.
In Christ these are not placed at war, but rather He is the only place in which they find repose.
As long as we try to create beauty by chaotic methodology, we are damned to the ugly fruits of our aimless efforts. If we embrace and rely on the order and immutable facts of the universe into which we have been created and placed, we are capable of breathing life into cold, hard facts and pleasure and joy into rote memorization.
Grammar supplies the foundation from which to apply and explore logic. A student well versed in logic can then exercise freedom and creativity in the realm of rhetoric. We all desire to converse and be taken seriously in the realm of rhetoric. We desire to be justified by words when defending our causes, decisions, child-rearing, politics, religion, television show synopses, movie reviews, food critiques, car preferences, and blog rolls. But we are playing at it if we are not well versed in grammar first and then logic. We are actors playing the role of a rhetorician. We are parrots speaking words we do not understand in order to profess and persuade others to ideas we do not ourselves yet fully absorb.
The freedom to make music is exemplified in the person well-seasoned in chord progressions and the grammar of music. This provides the foundation from which to learn the logic of music. The misconception of our culture is that the rote memorization of the notes somehow deadens the vitality of musical expression. It is untrue, a lie, and prohibitor of creativity, not a wellspring of it. Hoping for a muse to resurrect your lazy mind is not the best strategy for glorifying God or making the world swoon at the stroke of your pen or strum of your guitar. Hard work and initiative in learning and understanding the fundamentals of music and language make possible the creativity observed in the best music and lyrics we have to offer the world going forward.
I pray my children are given the grace of grammer, logic, and rhetoric in a way that enables to them to understand, absorb, apprehed, appreciate, and articulate back to culture the beauty of God and His glorious Gospel fulfilled in Christ.
The best poets, musicians, writers, preachers, politicians, lawyers, speakers, artists, comedians, teachers, etc... are often those best equipped to observe that in reality which we all have access to and fail to take notice. Think about it. The comedian tells a joke composed of his or her observance of a normative situation in which certain details are hashed out in a way that makes you chuckle. It is often a joke you knew, but had never taken notice. It is almost as if the joke makes you utter the words, "of course." It is not a new take on reality, but an observation about that which we all observed, but the creativity in presenting it made it come to life.
"I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that's extra scary to me. There's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run, he's fuzzy, get out of here."
"On a traffic light green means 'go' and yellow means 'yield', but on a banana it's just the opposite. Green means 'hold on,' yellow means 'go ahead,' and red means, 'where the hell did you get that banana at?'"
See more HERE.
The world is often changed not by revisions of past truths, but by the creative vision granted by grace in God to those whose minds are saturated in the normative observance and understanding of the way things are by design. The world is not made more beautiful by rebellion per se. It is beautiful because those who understand the rules and ponder them are given creativity in which they can display and articulate back to a dull world the vibrance of life available in the immutable truths of God's creative order.
Creativity is rebellious in a world where the standard is laziness. Merely accepting the way it has always been done is not a faithful adherence to tradition, but a lazy ignorance of it. Ironically, we all seem to love rebels (at least the ones who agree with us). My suggestion is to rebel against the world by siding with Christ. The only other alternative is rebelling against Christ by siding with the world.