Friday, September 18, 2009

Reading, Writing, and Computership

I seem to have skipped a week of my sabbatical; I should have made an entry last Monday, and it's Friday night. But it's been a good week and a half of getting some reading done, writing two songs, and working on Beth's laptop to get it up to speed.

I had the special experience last Sunday and Monday of preparing for a recording session by finishing a new song I had an idea for, but the session on Monday made me sit down and work on it with the intention of completing a recordable, presentable tune for my children's album.

This song is tentatively entitled "That's What I want to Be" and is a series of verses about professions that kids would identify with. First verse, "I want to be a firefighter," second verse, "I want to be a veterinarian" and third verse, "I want to be a ballet dancer," and so on. Each verse then includes some short phrases summarizing that job's experience.

As my grandchildren grow older, I see them responding to my music-- my playing, but also to my songs. I want the song to take the listener through a series of jobs with the goal of being what God wants me to be. Some of the jobs are performed in front of people and others are quiet, unassuming jobs like a high school crossing guard. Ultimately, the children will sing "I want to be a lot like Jesus."

Songwriting is easier now in some ways-- I have written enough to know how to craft one, but it's harder in that I am no longer writing for concerts or recordings. If I were in Nashville, or at least tied into the publishing business, I might be writing songs for other people. Finishing the sketch of this new novelty song was envigorating!

I hae also been working this week on revising my course for Westminster Theological Seminary's winter term 2010. The course is called "Music and Worship in the Changing Church" and the church is definitely changing!

When I started teaching this 5 day, 2 credit course, the two major renewal movements of recent years were Charismatic worship, springing out of the 1960s and 70s Jesus Movement, and then the Church Growth trend started by Willow Creek Community Church and Bill Hybels in the suburbs of Chicago in the early 80s.

Then the return to liturgical worship was defined by Robert Webber in 1984 in his book "The Canterbury Trail" in which Webber describes why a
more Anglican approach to worship had captured the yearning of so many for authenticity. The last time the course was taught it included a brief discussion of Orthodoxy and the music of the Eastern Orthodox liturgy.

But now, there are two major new branches of worship to be addressed in our concise course and they are looming large in the minds of seminarians far more than Willow Creek. One would be the Emerging Church, and the other would be the PCA's own phenomenon, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York. Both are fascinating, and both have strong artistic treatments in their forms of worship.

Then the continuing maturing of contemporary hymnody through the ministries of RUF hymns, and the examples of Keith Getty and Stuart Townend has encouraged so many in the Reformed tradition and beyond.

This course is getting bigger, and needs to be streamlined!

Finally, the church gave me a laptop to take with me on my way out the door in August, and now I can sit in my Lazyboy with a computer on my lap, and write in my blog like my daughter does! I've been trying to figure out what is wrong with Beth's 5-year-old lap top, since it won't load Adobe Flash Player, and no videos show on her machine. I'm about to embark on the dubious task of reloading Windows XP and starting over with her HP pavilion zd7000. Sigh.

Cool things I did this week:
1. I have been very successful with my physical therapy, and I have regained 90% range of motion.
2. Beth and I went to visit Dick and Debbie Blackman, and got to laugh, read and pray with them.
3. We bought one of Maria Cardillo's photos at the Clotheline Art Show.
4. I started "The Art of Worship" by Greg Scheer.
5. I had breakfast on Saturday with Gary Hicks and we talked about his new challenge of being let go by Christ United Methodist Church

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About Me

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I am a person who is perceived as youthful, although I am in my late 50s. I play and sing music, and it tends to keep me in the culture, like a lot of young people do. I am a "high I" on the DISC Behavioral Test, which means I'm optimistic, enthusiastic, a team player, and I motivate others toward goals. I don't like exercise, but I have a high metabolism, so I don't tend to be overweight at this time in my life! I have recently been doing moderate exercise and physical therapy for a shoulder condition.