Matthew Neugebauer wrote (October 24, 2003):
Olle Hedström wrote: < His music is simply too good to be from a mere human being, or is it only the handicraft of an unusually gifted person ? >
here's my view:
yes, the music was definitely the work of a master artist, who was, yes, a human being. However, that master artist was the work of another Master Artist, who gave Bach (both at birth and throughout his life) the talents and the desires for him to stand out in history like he does.
This is of course not at all limited to Bach. In fact, it really extends to everyone: everyone has something that they would want to spend their whole life doing. It is this God-given desire that prompts people to go out and learn and develop the skills and talents required for that field. (that's what I'm doing in university) The tragedy is when certain fields are favoured financially and socially over others, such as economics and business over fine arts and humanities (a modern example, but no offense to business workers intended).
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (October 25, 2003):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Not just one, however. As I am sure you are aware, there were many master artists involved in the transference of musical ideas, as well as his own natural aptitude.
Matthew Neugebauer wrote (October 26, 2003):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] yes-of course there were many people who taught Bach both directly and indirectly. However note what I said in parenthesis:
"that master artist was the work of another Master Artist, who gave Bach (both at birth and throughout his life) the talents and the desires for him to stand out in history like he does."
What I mean is that God laid out his musical education as well as giving him things at birth (i.e. laying out his gene pool). And I'm not just refering to music either, but rather to everything about him (and us) as being created by God; as being a work of art by God.
Hope that clears things up!
Dave Harman wrote (October 26, 2003):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Actually, it surely does NOT clear anything up. Your paragraph pre-supposes the acceptance of an ancient mythical "god" who actively 'meddles' in our lives. This ancient view was appropriate to past times when a lack of science made almost everything a mystery, so it was supposed that 'god' was making things happen - always, of course, for our good.
Although it is too much to expect that we have grown up to the extent that we no longer need the ancient view of someone looking down up us and running our lives, I had hoped we could avoid the embarrasing lengths that your post takes.
Certainly, as a private explanation of the music of Bach, this might work for you. But the more publicall it is expressed, the more silly and trivial it becomes.
So, your theological treatise certainly did not clear anything up. But it certainly showed a level of naivite that could, to be charitable, be called charming.
Jeremy Thomas wrote (October 26, 2003):
[To Dave Harman] What it does clear up is Matt's earlier post, which is how I understood his remarks.
With respect Dave, I think it's fair to say that your own view of the world makes as many presuppositions as Matt's. Whether or not we believe in something obviously makes no difference to the truth of the matter; it's merely a reflection of the conclusions we've come to based on whatever information was available to us while we pursued our enquiries. For years, people believed the world was flat. That didn't make a scrap of difference to the actual shape of the planet: we needed more objective criteria to clear the matter up.
< This ancient view was appropriate to past times when a lack of science made almost everything a mystery... >
You imply that science has removed all mystery about the world and why we're here - which, I politely suggest, is manifestly untrue. The very opposite may in fact be the case, as the more science has revealed to us, the more questions we have.
< ...so it was supposed that 'god' was making things happen - always, of course, for our good. >
Oh no. For His glory.
< ...it is too much to expect that we have grown up to the extent that we no longer need the ancient view of someone looking down up us and running our lives... >
Indeed - I couldn't cope without it.
< ... I had hoped we could avoid the embarrasing lengths that your post takes. >
No need to be embarrassed, Dave (meant without malice).
< ...it certainly showed a level of naivite that could, to be charitable, be called charming. >
To have a faith in God which provides answers about why we're here, and a solution to the problem of death, strikes me as far more persuasive and tangible than any theory which suggests that we climbed our way out of a bucket of slime, and that we're merely crawling our way inexorably to another one. I appreciate, of course, that others don't share my faith.
Whether God specifically arranged certain genes/whatever in Bach to make him the way he was, or whether He instead gave him opportunities and left him to choose, or neither of these, I can't say. However (and trying to stay on-topic), what I do find ironic is this: of the two contrasting world-views described by Matt and Dave, I know which comes closest to Bach's own. Certainly, this of itself doesn't make it true. Yet it was one of the biggest influences on the music he produced, which we all admire, non-believer included.
Do you need to be religious to compose good music? Of course not. But did it make a difference in Bach's case? We all know the answer to that. A cantata on the theme of natural selection/it's all just chance? I don't think so.
Dave: without offence on my part (truly). Matt: don't be discouraged.
Jeremy (going back to lurking here)
Zev Bechler wrote (October 26, 2003):
Jeremy Thomas wrote: < A cantata on the theme of natural selection/it's all just chance? I don't think so. >
Or a cantata on the glory and harm of coffee?
I am so envious of anyone who finds enlightenment or even any illumination as to the secret of the beauty of Bach's works in his commitment to work for the glory of god. Besides ,we know for a fact that this direction is all awfully wrong - was the WTC or the KdF, say, made for the glory of god too? Etc.
Matthew Neugebauer wrote (October 27, 2003):
[To Jeremy Thomas] thanks Jeremy.
My error was that I should have emphasized that this was the view of a fallable human being, and not solid fact. The opinion was formed and supported by Jeremy partially because coupled with faith it makes logical sense, but mostly because of my daily experience here at University, and the 20/20 hindsight back at my life.
just one small thing-
<< ...so it was supposed that God was making things happen - always, of course, for our good. >>
< Oh no. For His glory. >
Well, the idea here (and again this is just a view and not a fact) is that we exist to be with God and serve Him-that is what makes us complete. And we need to be completed-God already is, so setting a path that gives Him glory is really Him just bringing us into a meaningful life. In my original response on this issue, I emphasized the idea that God gave Bach not simply the talent to be the artist he was, but more importantly the desire to be so. The same thing has happened to me: my mom's dad was a traveling accordianist as his main job, so I was born with a musical background. A few years ago, hearing the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir singing Messiah really opened my eyes and ears to how great this music really was, and through many recordings and concerts and articles and these mailing lists and finally here at school, I am set on a path that I truly love-not just because I will get to listen and perform Bach and Handel for a living (and maybe even compose like them!) but because I am walking with God on this path-His will and my own are in perfect harmony.
John Pike wrote (October 27, 2003):
[To Dave Harman] Dear Dave, you are entitled to your view but so are the many millions of Christians around the world today. They include many eminent scientists. I found your e mail dand offensive. Please preface such statements in future with something along the lines of "I believe that." rather than pretending that your beliefs have been established as fact and that Christians are grotesquely naive.
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (October 28, 2003):
[To Dave Harman] However, in the view of Bach, one should keep things in context. When Bach was alive, the Scientific revolution known as the Enlightenment was just beginning to take hold. People still believed that God played an active part in life and work. Some (myself included) still believed and believein the ideology (championed by Luther) of the sanctity of the calling. That is to say, that one's calling was a worship of God as well as a means of living. One need not have become a priest or monk to worship God. One could worship Him as a cobbler or peasant or miner or farmer or merchant or ruler. For Luther and for Bach (and also for myself and others with the same mindframe) the ultimate end of all human toil is and should be the glory and worship of the Allmighty and the betterment of society (both in the microcosm [the family and the self] and the macrocosm). --- In
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (October 28, 2003):
[To Zev Bechler] It was.