Teaching Children about Easter

Teaching Children about Easter

Can kids comprehend the cross?

Teddy James

American Family Association Journal

Jesus and ChildrenExcept for a few details such as being “with child from the Holy Spirit,” children don’t seem to have much problem understanding the Christmas story. God came to earth as a baby. His mother was Mary; his earthy father, Joseph. They had traveled a long way and were sleeping in a barn the night He was born. The good guys, like the shepherds and the wise men, celebrated His birth, but others did not.

Compare that story with the 33-year-old Jesus voluntarily traveling to Jerusalem, celebrating Passover, staying silent before His accusers, being flogged, beaten, spat upon, having a crown of thorns forced onto His head, carrying the instrument of His homicide, nailed to a rough, wooden cross, and suffering for six hours until He died. Easter is difficult to explain and understand for adults, but much more so for children.

It is here that traditions can help families explain the tragedy and hope of Easter. Using tactile items to tell the story of Easter helps children understand the events on a level appropriate for their sensitivity and maturity. It also leaves room for their understanding to grow through the years. On top of that, new traditions help families mark, remember, and celebrate the most important of holy days in Christendom.

Resurrection Eggs
The ubiquitous plastic eggs have become synonymous with the Easter season. This has led some families to create a new tradition that embraces them but also points away from the commercialization of Easter and toward the reason we celebrate.

Parents get children to help them create or find items that go inside the eggs to symbolize the events of Easter. Most limit the items to 12 so the eggs can be kept in a common egg carton.

teaching-children-easterFamilies choose different symbols including: a cracker to symbolize the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26), silver coins (Matthew 26:14-16), a piece of leather or rope (John 19:1), a twig of thorns (Matthew 27:29), a cross (19:16-17), a large nail (John 19:18), a sign reading “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38), a sponge (Matthew 27:48), a spear (John 19:34), cloves or spices (Luke 24:1), a rock (Matthew 27:59-60), and a white piece of linen (John 20:7). The last egg is left empty to show that Jesus left the tomb on the third day.

No matter what items are chosen, it is important to include a Scripture reference inside each egg. This will also help children see Scripture as living, breathing, and applicable rather than dry and boring.

Resurrection Tree
Building on the idea of gathering items that symbolize Easter, many families build a Resurrection Tree. The tree is unique in that it takes families from Creation to Jesus’ resurrection. Some families take 30 days to decorate the tree and spend a few minutes each day leading up to Resurrection Sunday to read Scripture and create ornaments.  (See sidebar below.)

On the first day, parents read Genesis 1-2 and children place an ornament that resembles earth on the tree. That ornament can be papier-mâché or a colored balloon. On day seven, families can read Genesis 37, 40-46 (or excerpts from those chapters) and place an ornament symbolizing Joseph’s coat of many colors. On day eight, a lamb is placed on a branch while reading Exodus 12, the story of the Passover. This is a perfect time to discuss how the Passover is a foreshadowing of Easter. Families continue working their way through God’s story of redemption to its culmination in the resurrection.

But the Resurrection Tree doesn’t have to take 30 days. Some families make one ornament for every week of Lent. (See sidebar.) Others choose to make only four ornaments the first year, carefully explaining each symbol. They add a few more the next year and further explain the ramifications of Easter to their children.

Seder Meal
Messianic Jewish congregations possess a great way of teaching that the gospel did not begin in the New Testament but was in God’s plan from the very beginning. They celebrate Passover with a Seder meal, and some choose to end the dinner with Communion.

The Seder meal consists of many elements including the washing of hands, a time during which children ask four questions and are answered by the leader of the Seder meal, the hiding and finding of the Afkomen (unleavened bread), the four cups of wine that involve a reading and response filled with history and Scripture, the partaking of the Seder plate consisting of Karpas (greens), Beltzah (a boiled egg), Maror (a bitter herb), Charoset (a sweet mixture of chopped apples, nuts, honey, and cinnamon), and the shank bone of a lamb.

Every aspect of the Seder meal has a powerful, symbolic meaning. That meaning is amplified when viewed through the lens of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The Seder meal is a tradition thousands of years in the making and will bring extra meaning to your family’s Easter celebration.

Easter is certainly difficult to explain and hard to understand, especially for children. However, it can also be the most celebratory, meaningful, and maturing seasons in a Christian child’s life. These traditions, and many others like them, will ensure that your children remember that Easter isn’t about new clothes, candy, and an oversized bunny. It is about the Creator of the Universe clothing Himself in flesh and offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Whatever traditions you choose to establish, make sure they will be remembered, treasured, and repeated.

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Lent – This year, Lent began on February 18, Ash Wednesday. Although the Lenten season is almost complete, it isn’t too late to prepare your family for Easter through this traditional time marked by self-examination, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and repentance.

Here are some ideas for Lent to help you get started.

  • Practice self-denial. Give up something important to you. A few examples include withholding food for one meal a day, giving up coffee or tea, abstaining from television, or choosing to read only Scripture.
  • Serve those around you. Make a special effort to follow Jesus’s life of service by finding families in your community to bless, or by making a sacrificial gift to a gospel ministry.
  • Make pretzels. Pretzels are a traditional Lenten food symbolizing arms crossed in prayer. Making pretzels is a memorable way to include children in the Lenten season.
  • Prepare your heart. Like an annual physical exam, use this time to access your relationship with Christ. Pray through the verses of Psalm 51 and meditate on it daily.
  • Begin a focused family Bible time. If your family is not in the habit of studying Scripture together, Lent is a great time to begin. The Easter story found in Mark 14-16 is an appropriate passage.

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/april/can-kids-comprehend-the-cross/

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New Easter traditions

Resurrection Eggs kit
1-800-358-6329

Resurrection Tree

Seder Meal Resources

Full copy of a Haggadah

How to make an Easter Garden

How and why to celebrate the 40 days Jesus stayed on earth after His resurrection

40-day journey to Easter

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Easter YouTube Music: Jesus, Redeemer of my Soul

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Easter YouTube Music: Jesus, Redeemer of My Soul

Rescuing the one

Rescuing the One Sheep; vintage oil by Wilhelmena Davidson

I Stand All Amazed

Charles H. Gabriel

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

That he should extend his great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

 

 

 

“Rescue Me” from Solace Album by Jordan

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:11

Note below what Rachmaninoff lost when he fled the Russian revolution—all of his worldly possessions, including any music he may have written. See how God blessed him and us with his incredible talent and memory. Our blessing—Russia’s loss. ~C. A. Davidson

Hear  Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no. 3— one of my favorites!

Rachmaninoff,_CaliforniaSergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff[1] 1 April 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian[2] composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.[3] Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors.[4] The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff’s compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.

In Moscow, he met the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who became an important mentor and commissioned the teenage Rachmaninoff to arrange a piano transcription of the suite from his ballet The Sleeping Beauty. This commission was first offered to Siloti, who declined, but instead suggested Rachmaninoff would be more than capable. This alternative was accepted; Siloti supervised the arrangement.[8] Rachmaninoff confided in Zverev his desire to compose more, requesting a private room where he could compose in silence. Zverev saw him only as a pianist and severed his links with the boy, refusing even to speak to him for three years. Rachmaninoff moved out and continued to compose.

The sudden death of Tchaikovsky in 1893 made a strong impression on Rachmaninoff; he immediately began writing a second Trio élégiaque to his memory, clearly revealing the depth and sincerity of his grief in the music’s overwhelming aura of gloom.

In 1900, Rachmaninoff began a course of autosuggestive therapy with psychologist Nikolai Dahl, himself an amateur musician. Rachmaninoff quickly recovered confidence and overcame his writer’s block. A result of these sessions was the composition of Piano Concerto No. 2 (Op. 18, 1900-01), dedicated to Dr. Dahl. The piece was very well received at its premiere, at which Rachmaninoff was soloist.

Rachmaninoff made his first tour of the United States as a pianist in 1909, an event for which he composed the Piano Concerto No. 3 (Op. 30, 1909) as a calling card. This successful tour made him a popular figure in America.

Rachmaninoff’s spirits were further bolstered when, after years of engagement, he was finally allowed to marry his cousin Natalia.

Russian Revolution

The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. With this change followed the loss of his estate, his way of life, his livelihood and essentially his world. On 22 December 1917, he left St. Petersburg for Helsinki with his wife and two daughters on an open sled, having only a few notebooks with sketches of his own compositions and two orchestral scores, his unfinished opera Monna Vanna and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s opera The Golden Cockerel. He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia while also laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received three offers of lucrative American contracts. Although he declined all three, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns. He departed Kristiania (Oslo) for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninoff quickly chose an agent, Charles Ellis, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 1919-20 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. In 1921, the Rachmaninoffs bought a house in the United States, where they consciously recreated the atmosphere of Ivanovka, entertaining Russian guests, employing Russian servants, and observing Russian customs.[22]

As a pianist, Rachmaninoff ranked among the finest pianists of his time, along with Leopold Godowsky, Ignaz Friedman, Moriz Rosenthal and Josef Hofmann, and perhaps one of the greatest pianists in the history of classical music. He was famed for possessing a flawless, clean and inhuman virtuoso piano technique. His playing was marked by precision, rhythmic drive, an exceptionally accurate staccato and the ability to maintain complete clarity when playing works with complex textures. Rachmaninoff applied these qualities to excellent effect in music by Chopin, especially the B flat minor Piano Sonata. Rachmaninoff’s repertoire, excepting his own works, consisted mainly of standard 19th Century virtuoso works plus music by Bach, Beethoven, Borodin, Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.[42]

Rhythmically, Rachmaninoff was one of the best Romantic performers. He never lost the basic metric pulse, yet he constantly varied it. Harold C. Schonberg suggests the young Vladimir Horowitz might have gotten this kind of rhythmic snap from Rachmaninoff. In addition, Rachmaninoff’s playing had extreme musical elegance, with attention paid to the shape of the melodic line. His playing possessed a masculine, aristocratic kind of poetry. While never becoming sentimental, he managed to wring dry the emotional essence of the music. He did so through subtly nuanced phrasing within his strong, clear, unmannered projection of melodic lines.[43]

He had extremely large hands. From those barely moving fingers came an unforced, bronzelike sonority and an accuracy bordering on infallibility. Correct notes seemed to be built into his constitution. . .

Memory

Rachmaninoff also possessed an uncanny memory-one that would help put him in good stead when he had to learn the standard piano repertoire as a 45-year-old exile. He could hear a piece of music, even a symphony, then play it back the next day, the next year, or a decade after that. Siloti would give him a long and demanding piece to learn, such as Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. Two days later Rachmaninoff would play it “with complete artistic finish.” Alexander Goldenweiser said, “Whatever composition was ever mentioned-piano, orchestral, operatic, or other-by a Classical or contemporary composer, if Rachmaninoff had at any time heard it, and most of all if he liked it, he played it as though it were a work he had studied thoroughly.”[52]

Complete article

Parents Teaching Children Character: Respect vs. Ego

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Parenting Value: Respect, Part 1.  General Guidelines. Don’t miss these helpful points on character education.

Richard and Linda Eyre

key Children born between 1980 and 1995, called “millennials,” now saturate the job market …They are typically demanding, impertinent, and narcissistic. They need constant affirmation and expect to be catered to. ~Reb Bradley

childhelpingotherMore respect for others, less egocentric. Becoming more extra-centered and less self-centered. Learning empathy. ~ Richard and Linda Eyre

Some children have a natural and seemingly inherent sense of caring and sensitivity. Such cases are rather rare, however, and the self-centered “surrounded by mirrors” perspective of life is typical of most children, particularly adolescents. In fact most of the problems teenagers face (whether taking the form of rebellion or of extreme shyness and withdrawal) stem from their rather intense preoccupation with self.

Sample Method for Preschool Age: “Put Yourself in the Picture” Game

This game lets children practice at empathizing with someone they have never met or spoken to. Watch for pictures in magazine that show people in situations that are unusual to you and your children. These could range from a man on a horse in the mountains to a girl in a magazine clothing ad. Almost any magazine has several pictures or advertisements that will work for this exercise.

The game consists of looking at the picture and attempting to describe how the person in the picture feels. This can start on a physical level as you try to imagine what he sees and hears, whether she is cold or warm, and so forth. Then try to go beyond the physical and speculate how he or she might feel emotionally. Have a discussion about it. Let each person imagine how the subject feels and express his or her own observations.

A variation of the game is to give each player a different picture to study, then have them give a short speech or write a brief theme on what the subject feels.

Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Noticing Game

boytieshoeThis game trains children to see more that is outside themselves and thus to be less self-aware. Form a habit of playing “the noticing game” when you are traveling or going to any unfamiliar place with children. Ask them, without notice or warning, to close and cover their eyes. Then ask them to describe, as best they can, the room or scene they are in (the walls, the lighting, the carpet, the trees, the sky, etc.). Let them also play the game on you. The exercise in observing and being aware of where you are and what is around you is good training for empathy and sensitivity.

 

 

Sample Method for Adolescents: The Mirror-Window Lesson

Make an effort to tell your children how the things they do make you feel. This will help children be more aware of your feelings and be more sensitive toward them. If a teenager tells you that you are weird, tell him that that hurts your feelings. Sometimes children think of parents as people on whom they can vent their feelings without making a dent.

This lesson can help adolescents conceptualize and appreciate the difference between self-centeredness and extra-centeredness. Try to get a piece of one-way glass (mirror windowfrom one side, window from other). If you can’t find one, a plain piece of glass will do. Point out that when it is dark behind the glass, it is a mirror — all you see in it is yourself. When it is light behind it, you see through it — you see other people and not your own reflection. Point out to your children that life is much the same. When our minds are dark and self-centered, we only see ourselves (“What’s best for me?” “How will that affect me?” “What can this person do for me?”) In this mode we are always unhappy and self-conscious.

 

youthservingBut when we light up and look at other people — trying to listen, trying to see their needs, and so on — we “lose ourselves” and quit worrying about ourselves and feeling self-conscious.

Remember that unselfishness does not come naturally. Try to maintain your patience as you implement this “month.” Everyone, although in varying degrees, is born with a certain amount of selfishness. There is no quick fix for learning to be unselfish. It is a process that takes thinking and practicing and a certain amount of maturity to develop.

YouTube Music: Classic Haydn

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAbility may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

YouTube Music: “The Heavens Are Telling”; Haydn Creation Oratorio

YouTube Music: Haydn Symphony No. 94, 2nd Movement: Surprise!

From Wikipedia

haydnFranz Joseph Haydn 31 March[1] 1732 – 31 May 1809), known as Joseph Haydn,[2] was an Austrian[3] composer, one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period. He is often called the “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet” because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form.[4][5]

A lifelong resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, “forced to become original”.[6] At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Early life

Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, Austria, a village near the border with Hungary. His father was Mathias Haydn, a wheelwright who also served as “Marktrichter”, an office akin to village mayor. Haydn’s mother Maria, née Koller, had previously worked as a cook in the palace of Count Harrach, the presiding aristocrat of Rohrau. Neither parent could read music;[7] however, Mathias was an enthusiastic folk musician, who during the journeyman period of his career had taught himself to play the harp. According to Haydn’s later reminiscences, his childhood family was extremely musical, and frequently sang together and with their neighbours.[8]

Haydn’s parents had noticed that their son was musically gifted and knew that in Rohrau he would have no chance to obtain any serious musical training. It was for this reason that they accepted a proposal from their relative Johann Matthias Frankh, the schoolmaster and choirmaster in Hainburg, that Haydn be apprenticed to Frankh in his home to train as a musician. Haydn therefore went off with Frankh to Hainburg 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away and never again lived with his parents. He was about six years old.

Life in the Frankh household was not easy for Haydn, who later remembered being frequently hungry[9] as well as constantly humiliated by the filthy state of his clothing.[10] However, he did begin his musical training there, and soon was able to play both harpsichord and violin. The people of Hainburg heard him sing treble parts in the church choir.

There is reason to think that Haydn’s singing impressed those who heard him, because in 1739[11] he was brought to the attention of Georg von Reutter, the director of music in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, who happened to be visiting Hainburg. Haydn passed his audition with Reutter, and in 1740 moved to Vienna, where he worked for the next nine years as a chorister, after 1745 in the company of his younger brother Michael.

Haydn lived in the Kapellhaus next to the cathedral, along with Reutter, Reutter’s family, and the other four choirboys.[12] He was instructed in Latin and other school subjects as well as voice, violin, and keyboard.[13] Reutter was of little help to Haydn in the areas of music theory and composition, giving him only two lessons in his entire time as chorister.[14] However, since St. Stephen’s was one of the leading musical centers in Europe, Haydn was able to learn a great deal simply by serving as a professional musician there.[15]

Struggles as a freelancer

By 1749, Haydn had matured physically to the point that he was no longer able to sing high choral parts—the Empress herself complained to Reutter about his singing, calling it “crowing”.[17] One day, Haydn carried out a prank, snipping off the pigtail of a fellow chorister.[17] This was enough for Reutter: Haydn was first caned, then summarily dismissed and sent into the streets with no home to go to.[18] He had the good fortune to be taken in by a friend, Johann Michael Spangler, who shared his family’s crowded garret room with Haydn for a few months. Haydn immediately began his pursuit of a career as a freelance musician.

During this arduous time, Haydn worked at many different jobs: as a music teacher, as a street serenader, and eventually, in 1752, as valet–accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned “the true fundamentals of composition”.[19] He also was briefly in Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz‘s employ, playing the organ in the Bohemian Chancellery chapel at the Judenplatz.[20]

When he was a chorister, Haydn had not received serious training in music theory and composition, which he perceived as a serious gap. To fill it, he worked his way through the counterpoint exercises in the text Gradus ad Parnassum by Johann Joseph Fux, and carefully studied the work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whom he later acknowledged as an important influence.[21]

musicnotesAs his skills increased, Haydn began to acquire a public reputation, first as the composer of an opera, Der krumme Teufel “The Limping Devil”, written for the comic actor Johann Joseph Felix Kurz, whose stage name was “Bernardon”. The work was premiered successfully in 1753, but was soon closed down by the censors.[22] Haydn also noticed, apparently without annoyance, that works he had simply given away were being published and sold in local music shops.[23] Between 1754 and 1756 Haydn also worked freelance for the court in Vienna. He was among several musicians who were paid for services as supplementary musicians at balls given for the imperial children during carnival season, and as supplementary singers in the imperial chapel (the Hofkapelle) in Lent and Holy Week.[24]

With the increase in his reputation, Haydn eventually obtained aristocratic patronage, crucial for the career of a composer in his day. Countess Thun,[25] having seen one of Haydn’s compositions, summoned him and engaged him as her singing and keyboard teacher.[26] In 1756, Baron Carl Josef Fürnberg employed Haydn at his country estate, Weinzierl, where the composer wrote his first string quartets. Fürnberg later recommended Haydn to Count Morzin, who, in 1757,[27] became his first full-time employer.[28]

The return to Vienna in 1795 marked the last turning point in Haydn’s career. Although his musical style evolved little, his intentions as a composer changed. While he had been a servant, and later a busy entrepreneur, Haydn wrote his works quickly and in profusion, with frequent deadlines. As a rich man, Haydn now felt that he had the privilege of taking his time and writing for posterity. This is reflected in the subject matter of The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801), which address such weighty topics as the meaning of life and the purpose of humankind, and represent an attempt to render the sublime in music. Haydn’s new intentions also meant that he was willing to spend much time on a single work: both oratorios took him over a year to complete. Haydn once remarked that he had worked on The Creation so long because he wanted it to last.[70]

The change in Haydn’s approach was important in the history of classical music, as other composers were soon following his lead. Notably, Beethoven adopted the practice of taking his time and aiming high.[71]

Read more about Haydn

YouTube Music: Spring Awakening with Music of the Heart

Dinner Topics for Friday

YouTube Music: Spring Awakening with Music of the Heart

All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. ~Alma 30:44

Listen to more of Jordan’s uplifting music at Spotify for free!

See Jordan’s latest release, free download, and more, HERE

rainyday4 rainyday3 rainyday1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the . . .

Raindrops

Lovely, soothing, refreshing. . .

by Jordan New Age Music

“Raindrops” from his album “Solace”, Jordan “takes you to an added dimension.” Download or pick up this album on http://www.cdbaby.com/jordan13

rainyday2 rainyday5

waterspring waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome . . .

Spring Flow

 

 

 

“Spring Flow”  from his album “Solace”, Jordan “takes you to an added dimension.” Download or pick up this album on http://www.cdbaby.com/jordan13

 

 

Critical Thinking Definition: Discernment and Judgment

Critical Thinking Definition: Discernment and Judgment

Critical-thinking

keyWho says freedom is morally superior to bondage? And why is it wrong to hurt someone else? Who says? To injure or hurt someone else goes against biblical teaching. That is where the idea of it being wrong to hurt someone comes from in the first place. The Golden Rule was given to us by Jesus Christ. ~Tim Wildmon

“You have no right to judge me!” Really?

Tim Wildmon, American Family Association President

discernment-christianDo you know the favorite Bible verse of those who don’t believe in the Bible’s authority? Think about it. It’s not hard. The favorite Bible verse of those who do not believe in the Bible is: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Now these folks cannot tell you where this verse is in the Bible, because they don’t read it. But they have heard it is in the Scriptures somewhere, so if they don’t like something you say when you pronounce something right or wrong, they whip out Matthew 7:1, and that is supposed to be the end of the discussion.

One of the problems is, if you tell others they have no right to judge someone else, you have thereby judged them for judging. You have done precisely what you claim to be against – judging. That makes you a hypocrite.

But that then begs the question – why is it wrong to be a hypocrite? Who made that judgment? We just assume that to be a true statement, which is a presupposition. But presuppositions need a foundation to be authoritative. For example, the teachings of Jesus Christ are authoritative for those who believe He is the Son of God.

Each one of us has a worldview on which we base our lives, presuppositions we operate under and make decisions on. Because of our country’s Christian heritage, most Americans, either consciously or subconsciously, derive their presuppositions about life and morality from the Bible.

Ask an average man on the street if lying is right or wrong behavior, and he is going to tell you it’s wrong. Ask him who decided lying was wrong, and he will either say, “It just is” or “My parents taught me it was wrong” or “The Bible says so.” However, “It just is,” is not an answer to the question; it is an opinion. Neither is “My parents taught me.” Parents are an authority figure, but they do not define morality in any absolute way because they are humans whose opinions are subject to change. “The Bible says so,” is a legitimate answer because if you believe the Bible is God’s Word, then you want to obey God so you don’t fall into disfavor with a supreme being who controls your eternal destiny.

bible1Many Americans will say they subscribe to the idea that a person should be free to do whatever he wishes “as long as it does not hurt anyone else.” This view is based on the presupposition that freedom is good, and it is morally wrong to hurt someone else. Who made these rules? Who says freedom is morally superior to bondage? And why is it wrong to hurt someone else? Who says? To injure or hurt someone else goes against biblical teaching. That is where the idea of it being wrong to hurt someone comes from in the first place. The Golden Rule was given to us by Jesus Christ. 

Some societies use an atheistic state government as the agent for defining what is right or wrong behavior. It’s called totalitarianism for a reason. In Muslim countries, Islamic law and teaching dominate the people’s behavior. Islam defines good and evil, wrong and right. Most European countries have what’s left of their Christian heritage to guide them, although the continent today is mostly secular with Islam rising as a possible replacement to secularism in the coming decades.   

It is a healthy exercise to ask ourselves where we get the moral values that govern our lives. Is it each person for himself, or do we acknowledge a higher power with authority to declare such? God calls on all men to submit to His will and authority. Let us pray that America will become a God-fearing people again. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus declared, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/june/you-have-no-right-to-judge-me-really/

Critical Thinking: Biblical History, Moral Compass, Why the Bible Matters

YouTube Music: Classic Vivaldi

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAnything unattempted remains impossible.

Antonio Vivaldi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

vivaldiAntonio Lucio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741), nicknamed il Prete Rosso (“The Red Priest”) because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over forty operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons.

Many of his compositions were written for the female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi had been employed from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna, hoping for preferment. The Emperor died soon after Vivaldi’s arrival.

Though Vivaldi’s music was well received during his lifetime, it later declined in popularity until its vigorous revival in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Vivaldi ranks among the most popular and widely recorded of Baroque composers.

Childhood

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in 1678 in Venice,[1] then the capital of the Republic of Venice. He was baptized immediately after his birth at his home by the midwife, which led to a belief that his life was somehow in danger. Though not known for certain, the child’s immediate baptism was most likely due either to his poor health or to an earthquake that shook the city that day. In the trauma of the earthquake, Vivaldi’s mother may have dedicated him to the priesthood.[2] Vivaldi’s official church baptism did not take place until two months later.[3]

Vivaldi’s parents were Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio, as recorded in the register of San Giovanni in Bragora.[4] Vivaldi had five siblings: Margarita Gabriela, Cecilia Maria, Bonaventura Tomaso, Zanetta Anna, and Francesco Gaetano.[5] Giovanni Battista, who was a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Antonio to play the violin and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son. Antonio was probably taught at an early age, judging by the extensive musical knowledge he had acquired by the age of 24, when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà.[6] Giovanni Battista was one of the founders of the Sovvegno dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, an association of musicians.[7]

The president of the Sovvegno was Giovanni Legrenzi, an early Baroque composer and the maestro di cappella at St Mark’s Basilica. It is possible that Legrenzi gave the young Antonio his first lessons in composition. The Luxembourg scholar Walter Kolneder has discerned the influence of Legrenzi’s style in Vivaldi’s early liturgical work Laetatus sum (RV Anh 31), written in 1691 at the age of thirteen. Vivaldi’s father may have been a composer himself: in 1689, an opera titled La Fedeltà sfortunata was composed by a Giovanni Battista Rossi – the name under which Vivaldi’s father had joined the Sovvegno di Santa Cecilia.[8]

Vivaldi’s health was problematic. His symptoms, strettezza di petto (“tightness of the chest”), have been interpreted as a form of asthma.[3] This did not prevent him from learning to play the violin, composing or taking part in musical activities,[3] although it did stop him from playing wind instruments. In 1693, at the age of fifteen, he began studying to become a priest.[9] He was ordained in 1703, aged 25. He was soon nicknamed il Prete Rosso, “The Red Priest”, because of his red hair.[10] “Rosso” is Italian for “Red”, and would have referred to the colour of his hair, a family trait. Not long after his ordination, in 1704, he was given a dispensation from celebrating Mass because of his ill health. Vivaldi only said Mass as a priest a few times. He appears to have withdrawn from priestly duties, but he remained a priest.

At the Conservatorio dell’Ospedale della Pietà

In September 1703, Vivaldi became maestro di violino (master of violin) at an orphanage called the Pio Ospedale della Pietà (Devout Hospital of Mercy) in Venice.[1] While Vivaldi is most famous as a composer, he was regarded as an exceptional technical violinist as well. The German architect Johann Friedrich Armand von Uffenbach referred to Vivaldi as “the famous composer and violinist” and said that “Vivaldi played a solo accompaniment excellently, and at the conclusion he added a free fantasy [an improvised cadenza] which absolutely astounded me, for it is hardly possible that anyone has ever played, or ever will play, in such a fashion.”[11]

Vivaldi was only 25 when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà. Over the next thirty years he composed most of his major works while working there.[12] There were four similar institutions in Venice; their purpose was to give shelter and education to children who were abandoned or orphaned, or whose families could not support them. They were financed by funds provided by the Republic.[13] The boys learned a trade and had to leave when they reached 15. The girls received a musical education, and the most talented stayed and became members of the Ospedale’s renowned orchestra and choir.

Shortly after Vivaldi’s appointment, the orphans began to gain appreciation and esteem abroad, too. Vivaldi wrote concertos, cantatas and sacred vocal music for them.[14] These sacred works, which number over 60, are varied: they included solo motets and large-scale choral works for soloists, double chorus, and orchestra.[15] In 1704, the position of teacher of viola all’inglese was added to his duties as violin instructor.[16] The position of maestro di coro, which was at one time filled by Vivaldi, required a lot of time and work. He had to compose an oratorio or concerto at every feast and teach the orphans both music theory and how to play certain instruments.[17]

His relationship with the board of directors of the Ospedale was often strained. The board had to take a vote every year on whether to keep a teacher. The vote on Vivaldi was seldom unanimous, and went 7 to 6 against him in 1709.[18] After a year as a freelance musician, he was recalled by the Ospedale with a unanimous vote in 1711; clearly during his year’s absence the board realized the importance of his role.[18] He became responsible for all of the musical activity of the institution[19] when he was promoted to maestro di’ concerti (music director) in 1716.[20]

In 1705, the first collection (Connor Cassara) of his works was published by Giuseppe Sala:[21] his Opus 1 is a collection of 12 sonatas for two violins and basso continuo, in a conventional style.[16] In 1709, a second collection of 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo appeared, his Opus 2.[22] A real breakthrough as a composer came with his first collection of 12 concerti for one, two, and four violins with strings, L’estro armonico Opus 3, which was published in Amsterdam in 1711 by Estienne Roger,[23] dedicated to Grand Prince Ferdinand of Tuscany. The prince sponsored many musicians including Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel. He was a musician himself, and Vivaldi probably met him in Venice.[24] L’estro armonico was a resounding success all over Europe. It was followed in 1714 by La stravaganza Opus 4, a collection of concerti for solo violin and strings,[25] dedicated to an old violin student of Vivaldi’s, the Venetian noble Vettor Dolfin.[26]

In February 1711, Vivaldi and his father traveled to Brescia, where his setting of the Stabat Mater (RV 621) was played as part of a religious festival. The work seems to have been written in haste: the string parts are simple, the music of the first three movements is repeated in the next three, and not all the text is set. Nevertheless, perhaps in part because of the forced essentiality of the music, the work is one of his early masterpieces.

Despite his frequent travels from 1718, the Pietà paid him 2 sequins to write two concerti a month for the orchestra and to rehearse with them at least five times when in Venice. The Pietà’s records show that he was paid for 140 concerti between 1723 and 1733.

Mantua and The Four Seasons

In 1717 or 1718, Vivaldi was offered a new prestigious position as Maestro di Cappella of the court of prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua.[33] He moved there for three years and produced several operas, among which was Tito Manlio (RV 738). In 1721, he was in Milan, where he presented the pastoral drama La Silvia (RV 734, 9 arias survive). He visited Milan again the following year with the oratorio L’adorazione delli tre re magi al bambino Gesù (RV 645, also lost). In 1722 he moved to Rome, where he introduced his operas’ new style. The new pope Benedict XIII invited Vivaldi to play for him. In 1725, Vivaldi returned to Venice, where he produced four operas in the same year.

During this period Vivaldi wrote the Four Seasons, four violin concertos depicting scenes appropriate for each season. Three of the concerti are of original conception, while the first, “Spring”, borrows motifs from a Sinfonia in the first act of his contemporaneous opera “Il Giustino“. The inspiration for the concertos was probably the countryside around Mantua. They were a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each specifically characterized), barking dogs, buzzing mosquitoes, crying shepherds, storms, drunken dancers, silent nights, hunting parties from both the hunters’ and the prey’s point of view, frozen landscapes, ice-skating children, and warming winter fires. Each concerto is associated with a sonnet, possibly by Vivaldi, describing the scenes depicted in the music. They were published as the first four concertos in a collection of twelve, Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, Opus 8, published in Amsterdam by Le Cène in 1725.

During his time in Mantua, Vivaldi became acquainted with an aspiring young singer Anna Tessieri Girò who was to become his student, protégée, and favorite prima donna.[34] Anna, along with her older half-sister Paolina, became part of Vivaldi’s entourage and regularly accompanied him on his many travels. There was speculation about the nature of Vivaldi’s and Giro’s relationship, but no evidence to indicate anything beyond friendship and professional collaboration. Although Vivaldi’s relationship with Anna Girò was questioned, he adamantly denied any romantic relationship in a letter to his patron Bentivoglio dated 16 November 1737

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YouTube Music: Classic Chopin

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyWhat we see depends mainly on what we look for.

Chopin: Krakowiak Grand Rondeau

Prelude in C Minor

Chopin 12 Etudes

Frédéric Chopin

From Wikipedia

Chopin,_by_WodzinskaFrédéric François Chopin or Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin[1] (1 March or 22 February 1810[2] – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is widely considered one of the greatest Romantic composers.[3] Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola, a village in the Duchy of Warsaw. A renowned child-prodigy pianist and composer, he grew up in Warsaw and completed his music education there; he composed many of his mature works in Warsaw before leaving Poland in 1830 at age 20, shortly before the November 1830 Uprising.

Following the Russian suppression of the Uprising, he settled in Paris as part of Poland’s Great Emigration. During the remaining 19 years of his life, Chopin gave only some 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon; he supported himself by selling his compositions and teaching piano. After some romantic dalliances with Polish women, including an abortive engagement, from 1837 to 1847 he carried on a relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin, aka George Sand. For most of his life Chopin suffered from poor health; he died in Paris in 1849 at age 39.

The vast majority of Chopin’s works are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces and some songs to Polish lyrics. His piano works are often technically demanding, with an emphasis on nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented the instrumental ballade and made major innovations to the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, polonaise, étude, impromptu, scherzo and prélude.

The great majority of Chopin’s compositions were written for the piano as solo instrument; all of his extant works feature the piano in one way or another. Chopin, according to Arthur Hedley, “had the rare gift of a very personal melody, expressive of heart-felt emotion, and his music is penetrated by a poetic feeling that has an almost universal appeal…. Present-day evaluation places him among the immortals of music by reason of his insight into the secret places of the heart and because of his awareness of the magical new sonorities to be drawn from the piano.”[40]

The first systematic, if imperfect, study of Chopin’s style came in F. P. Laurencin’s 1861 Die Harmonik der Neuzeit. Laurencin concluded that “Chopin is one of the most brilliant exceptional natures that have ever stridden onto the stage of history and life, he is one who can never be exhausted nor stand before a void. Chopin is the musical progone[74] of all progones until now.”[75]

Robert Schumann, speaking of Chopin’s Sonata in B-flat minor, wrote that “he alone begins and ends a work like this: with dissonances, through dissonances, and in dissonances”, and in Chopin’s music he discerned “cannon concealed amid blossoms”.[75]

According to Tad Szulc, though technically demanding,[76] Chopin’s works emphasize nuance and expressive depth rather than sheer virtuosity. Vladimir Horowitz referred to Chopin as “the only truly great composer for the piano”.[77]

Chopin’s music for the piano combined a unique rhythmic sense (particularly his use of rubato), frequent use of chromaticism, and counterpoint. This mixture produces a particularly fragile sound in the melody and the harmony, which are nonetheless underpinned by solid and interesting harmonic techniques. He took the new salon genre of the nocturne, invented by Irish composer John Field, to a deeper level of sophistication. Three of Chopin’s twenty-one Nocturnes were published only after his death in 1849, contrary to his wishes.[78] He also endowed popular dance forms, such as the Polish mazurek and the Viennese Waltz, with a greater range of melody and expression.

Chopin’s mazurkas, while based somewhat on the traditional Polish dance (the mazurek), were different from the traditional variety in that they were suitable for concerts halls as well as dance settings. With his mazurkas, Chopin brought a new sense of nationalism, which was an idea that other composers writing both at the same time as, and after, Chopin would also incorporate into their compositions. Chopin’s nationalism was a great influence and inspiration for many other composers, especially Eastern Europeans, and he was one of the first composers to clearly express nationalism through his music. Furthermore, he was the first composer to take a national genre of music from his home country and transform it into a genre worthy of the general concert-going public, thereby creating an entirely new genre.

Chopin was the first to write ballades[79] and scherzi as individual pieces. He took the example of Bach’s preludes and fugues and essentially established a new genre with his own Préludes. He reinvented the étude,[80] expanding on the idea and making it into a gorgeous, eloquent and emotional showpiece, and he used his Études to teach his own revolutionary style[17] – for instance playing with the weak fingers (3, 4, and 5) in fast figures (Op. 10, No. 2), playing in octaves (Op. 25, No. 10), and playing black keys with the thumb (Op. 10, No. 5).

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History: Christian Art and Michelangelo

History: Christian Art and Michelangelo

keyIt is instructive to study the great art that—albeit done by persons of imperfect character—was inspired by Jesus Christ, and still blesses us, hundreds of years later. ~C.D.

michelangelomadonnaMichelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni[1] (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo (Italian pronunciation: [mikeˈlandʒelo]), was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.[2] Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time.[2] A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.[2] His output in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century. Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo’s design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification.

Prophet Jeremiah as depicted by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel on Sistine chapel ceiling

Prophet Jeremiah as depicted by Michelangelo,
on Sistine chapel ceiling

In a demonstration of Michelangelo’s unique standing, he was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive.[3] Two biographies were published of him during his lifetime; one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that he was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to have currency in art history for centuries. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino (“the divine one”).[4] One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, and it was the attempts of subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo’s impassioned and highly personal style that resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.

Rome

Michelangelo arrived in Rome 25 June 1496[19] at the age of 21. On 4 July of the same year, he began work on a commission for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, an over-life-size statue of the Roman wine god, Bacchus. However, upon completion, the work was rejected by the cardinal, and subsequently entered the collection of the banker Jacopo Galli, for his garden.

In November 1497, the French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of his most famous works, the Pietà and the contract was agreed upon in August of the following year. The contemporary opinion about this work – “a revelation of all the potentialities and force of the art of sculpture” – was summarized by Vasari: “It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh.”

In Rome, Michelangelo lived near the church of Santa Maria di Loreto. Here, according to the legend, he fell in love with Vittoria Colonna, marchioness of Pescara and a poet.[citation needed] His house was demolished in 1874, and the remaining architectural elements saved by the new proprietors were destroyed in 1930. Today a modern reconstruction of Michelangelo’s house can be seen on the Janiculum hill. It is also during this period that skeptics allege Michelangelo executed the sculpture Laocoön and His Sons which resides in the Vatican.[20]

Sistine Chapel ceiling

Main article: Sistine Chapel ceiling

cistenechapel2Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; the work took approximately four years to complete (1508-1512)

In 1505 Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II. He was commissioned to build the Pope’s tomb. Under the patronage of the Pope, Michelangelo had to constantly stop work on the tomb in order to accomplish numerous other tasks. Because of these interruptions, Michelangelo worked on the tomb for 40 years. The tomb, of which the central feature is Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, was never finished to Michelangelo’s satisfaction. It is located in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.

During the same period, Michelangelo took the commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took approximately four years to complete (1508-1512). According to Michelangelo’s account, Bramante and Raphael convinced the Pope to commission Michelangelo in a medium not familiar to the artist. This was done in order that he, Michelangelo, would suffer unfavorable comparisons with his rival Raphael, who at the time was at the peak of his own artistry as the primo fresco painter. However, this story is discounted by modern historians on the grounds of contemporary evidence, and may merely have been a reflection of the artist’s own perspective.

Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the 12 Apostles against a starry sky, but lobbied for a different and more complex scheme, representing creation, the Downfall of Man and the Promise of Salvation through the prophets and Genealogy of Christ. The work is part of a larger scheme of decoration within the chapel which represents much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

michelangelo-God-and-adam-handsThe composition eventually contained over 300 figures and had at its center nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups: God’s Creation of the Earth; God’s Creation of Humankind and their fall from God’s grace; and lastly, the state of Humanity as represented by Noah and his family. On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of the Jesus. They are seven prophets of Israel and five Sibyls, prophetic women of the Classical world.

Among the most famous paintings on the ceiling are The Creation of Adam, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, the Prophet Isaiah and the Cumaean Sibyl. Around the windows are painted the ancestors of Christ.

Continued at Wikipedia

Dinner Time Topics:

In today’s society, why do you think it’s important to preserve sacred art, music, and writings derived from epic stories of the Holy Bible?

How does the Judeo-Christian moral code preserve and protect freedom and civilization?