Reading Music, but not

I found this gem on Facebook today and HAD to write about it.  I have to write about it because given that I can’t read sheet music well at all, my melodic emoting is barely discernible if I try to put it on paper.

You see, THIS is my alphabet:  E, A, G, B, E

and then they get crazy on you and ask you to play in the Am, but don’t mistake the major notes in that scale for minor ones. Playing songs in the Am does not necessarily mean that the Bm or the Em will be present. Confused? Yeah me too.

Anyway, enjoy this diddy about something guitarists never use. May this enlighten you!

Can integrative arts include business and religion? – A part of my art journey

FINALLY!    Article of Inspiration:  Am I a Dancer Who Gave Up?

This article is a wonderfully articulate story about an artist whose passion couldn’t just be dance, and I can totally relate.  Am I a dancer? A theologian? A non-profit administrator? An early childhood educator?  A professional MOM? Every one of those titles takes work to combine with one of the others, and as someone who has always longed for a truly integrative arts journey, one is not enough.  Can “integrative arts” include people who professionally integrate their arts with traditionally non-artistic disciplines?

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Shawn Lent, who writes the article, is a dancer and choreography, but she is also a business manager and does international diplomatic work for the U.S. Did I mention she’s working in some of my favorite countries too? Like Egypt!

For many years I have had friends and family as me if I’d given up on being a dancer. No, of course not! It’s a part of who I am and I take it with me anywhere. I believe Shawn says much the same thing as I have for all these years.  And why not?

We might not know what to call ourselves, but this is a demographic I can get behind. Dare I say it, a profession?

Enjoy all you artsy peoples!!

 

Poetry Competitions -A Part of My Art Journey

Wahoo!

I’ve entered my first writing competition with a piece of poetry and am preparing submissions for two more; a local competition here in South Carolina (we moved. Long story) and the annual Reader’s Digest poetry/short story competition.

I’ve always doodled poems and story ideas in my homework margins and journals, mostly children’s poetry and adventures in literature, but have never taken time to see about publishing or sharing beyond family.  So, this is exciting.  It would be fantastic if I could actually make a little pocket money on the side with my stories 😀 and a wonderful legacy for my children who inspire much of it.

WE shall see….;) 2016-07-18 20.17.11

Who Has Seen the Wind – a part of my art journey

I was so surprised to be allowed to perform a dance piece last semester for a seminary theology class.  The purpose of the project was to reflect a certain point of theology and integrate it with a practical area of ministry in which we find ourselves.  For me, my dancing has always been worship, but with a deep desire to go beyond the perceived “liturgical” dance traditions common to western Christianity, and use the art to challenge perception, create questions, and demonstrate its unique beauty.

So, with that I am VERY excited to announce my next dance performance in the community!

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The Promenade  is an outdoor location, pictured below. The piece will be performed around the fountain at about this time of the evening.

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Choreography is almost finished. Now it’s only a matter of the weather 😀

Dancing in Seminary- A part of my art journey

Last year I was invited to create a piece

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for my theology class, in place of a paper. The assignment was to integrate an important aspect of Christian theology into our lives, so making a dance fit the bill quite well.

I had a month to read my text, research, build a concept, attempt to get in shape enough after months of small children and moving across the country, find another dancer, choreograph to that dancer and be ready to perform. No problem. Oh! Gotta cut music, get permission and not fail my other classes, lol. It was fun, and we did it.

This is the first piece I have shown of my work in a long time and the first I’ve performed in a couple years. As an artist I tremble, knowing all to well the critiques that could be made, and the changes I want to make to develop it even more! But as a part of my art journey, the one in which I am not compared to anyone but myself, I am so blessed that God has worked in my life, healing by body to move and having the privilege to perform IN A SEMINARY!! To give glory to God through dance. This is only the beginning.

Below is the write up I prepared and presented before the performance. I was also blessed to be able to speak to the group before hand for several minutes, and Elizabeth and I were able to give some demonstrations concerning the appreciation of dance, but that is not in the video below.

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Thank you to the many who bathed this in prayer, supported the project and attended! Special thanks to my mom for the inspirational trip to New York during it’s conception, and most of all to my amazing husband and children who are my heart.

Hypostasis
An exposition on the nature of the Trinity

     The 5th century of Christianity saw one of the greatest and most vital controversies in Christendom, the nature of Christ.  Nestorius had challenged convention by suggesting that Christ had two natures since humanity and divinity could not possibly be combined into one (Dr. Donald Fairbairn, “Lecture on the Great Schism”).  In attempting to refute him the church entered into a lengthy dispute which involved, not only the nature of Christ, but the nature of the entire God-head.  The conclusion of the Chalcedonian council was that the Trinity had one nature, or ousia, but three persons (Fairbairn, “The Great Schism”).  It is easy enough to say in English, but in Greek and Latin there was some continued dispute about whether to say phusis or hypostasis to represent God’s “personness”, but the intention and meaning of both parties was the was the same (Wahba n.d.).  Peter Toon, in his book Our Triune God: A Biblical Portrayal of the Trinity, says this about YHWH “He is a marvelous mystery, a plurality in unity, and a unity in plurality,” (Toon, 95), and it is this mystery which Hypostasis seeks to explore.

     Every dance begins with a theme and inspiration.  The Trinity itself is mine, and more particularly our personal understanding of the Trinity and relationship to it.  Because of it’s strong sense of individuality and independence Western thought tends towards pantheism, Toon says, citing observations made by Alexis De Tocqueville in Democracy in America (Toon, 18).  In Christianity this tendency appears in the habit of thinking of God as disinterested and detached from us and our daily lives.  Or, perhaps He is interested, but He gave us the ability to think for ourselves didn’t He?  Herein lies my chorographical theme of Idea, a Christian perception of the God-head more in keeping with classic Greek philosophy than Biblical Christianity.  In stark contrast to the invisible Idea is the tangible Object.  This theme is meant to show how silly and fruitless it is to try to live with God conversely as a mere physical Object.  This dance suggests that neither of these relationships are sufficient, or accurate of the reality of the Trinity, and puts forth for discussion a third alternative embodied in the word hypostasis itself.

     1st Corinthians chapter 13 says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face.”  It is impossible to truly represent the entire God-head through any earthly means, but as Paul suggests in this verse there is a very true sense in which we can see Him and know him. It is dim, a mere shadow of reality (The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis), but true none-the less.  The word hypostasis reflects this well.  Literally it means understanding and actively it means “that which gives support” (Toon, 41).  Toon affirms that it is the active sense which is used by classic Trinitarianism and the Council of Chalcedon to explain how the persons of the Trinity relate to each other.  Hypostasis pushes both the active and literal sense of the word by suggesting ways in which a human life lives and interacts with the Trinity the way the God intended.  Comfort and support give way to collaboration and togetherness.  There is interaction, intimacy and artistry, ultimately telling a story common to all Christians through the movements of the dance.

     Dance is the sign language of music. Like any art it can be used for beauty or ugliness, but it is nevertheless powerful because it uses the vulnerability of the human body to impress upon the human soul the intentions of the artist in a way that is personal.  As the name Hypostasis suggests, there is a personal God whose mysterious “personness” demands recognition and contemplation. This artist would like to suggest that through the exploration of Hypostasis this evening you contemplate three questions; Who is God? What is my relationship with Him? And, is it what it ought to be?  Further, that you allow yourself to be personally affected by the spiritually formative nature of the piece, which all art and creativity naturally bear (Wes Van der Lugt, “The Beauty of Holiness”).
Video: click below
Hypostases – choreography by Rachel Davis, performed by Rachel Davis & Elizabeth Witham</strong

“Festival” by Sigur Ros used with permission. Cut by Nathanael Davis for Hypostasis, 12/4/2015

Making Culture

In his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch writes that ” In cultural creativity, innocence is not a virtue.” 

This is a constant challenge for modern Christians who want to make new culture, but refuse to immerse themselves enough in the existing cultures to understand them. Crouch’s point is the more nitty gritty details we know about our world the more powerful our creations will be. 

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One of my own biggest criticisms of Christian culture in America, and Crouch agrees, is the pitiful efforts at responding to Hollywood with culturally barren films. They are getting a little better through the years but they are still failing to enter the mainstream audience of our country.  Rarely do such efforts by Christian groups seek to cultivate the existing parts of a culture, like movie making, with an eye to preserve what is already good. The art of good acting, for example, which takes thousands of hours to perfect.  The beauty of a well shot scene developed through even more countless hours of understanding light, motion and sound.  Or perhaps a kind of storytelling, often used to convey all sorts of messages with great success but passed off by a Christian director because it’s “secular”.

We often think that innocence is a virtue to be prized and protected, but we have mistaken righteousness for innocence, those are two different things.  “Be holy” says the man who ate dinner with prostitutes, thieves, atheists and homosexuals.  True righteousness is not what we make but what God makes of us. Innocence is ignorance.  Some kinds of ignorance are good and healthy, such as that in the development of a young child.  But if we are truly going to change culture, we must get our hands dirty.  In trying to preserve what was never ours to determine, what is holiness and righteousness, we have neglected our role as keepers and makers of culture.

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In this statue commemorating the child who was never born, I grieve the loss of generations of children who are lost because of our failure to engage culture in a way that captured their hearts with the beauty of goodness, the adventure of creating with the Creator, and the inspiration of true freedom.

Perhaps we should take a note from Mr. Wilde and decided to “draw”.

My Garden Cup

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This is my new mug, which I bought for coffee during Hebrew lectures.  It’s part of a set that I absolutely loved, with many great little sayings, but this one truly represents my journey at this time of life. Enjoy, do not take for granted, appreciate, value each moment; there are dozens of adjectives that could be used to convey the idea in English. But “love” implies that there is more to be valued than an emotion of pleasure.

To love is as much of a choice as it is a reality. Love itself becomes the greatest reality for us who believe that the Trinity is Love, and by considering Christ, LOVE becomes a living, breathing entity with whom we interact. Therefore to love each moment is, or could be, an acknowledgment of the reality of love in every moment of time.  So you can see that the implication is far more than fuzzy wuzzy feelings every minute of the day.

Stop.

Look at the moment around you and in you.

Acknowledge it, for it is; joyful, confusing, painful or pleasant.

Then, with purpose, place Christ into the context of your moment.  Don’t interpret his presence by changing the moment itself to what you think it should be. Just let Christ be who he is in the same place, mentally, physically and emotionally, with you.

That is the words on my cup. But I also love the flowers and the bright orange boundary around the garden setting. This reminds me that once I’ve moved over and made room for Love, for me this is Christ, and let him BE with you, look around you to the greater context of your garden.

You may find that you are now seeing things differently. And as the Hebrew word for seeing implies, ra’ah, you may also begin to understand a different way of living the moments that are to follow.

BE still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Love…each…moment.