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Beowulf

Musical Dilemma

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I grew up in a fundamentalist family, but eventually got tired of the foolishness. I have rejected almost all of the tenets of Christianity, except for those dealing with charity. Given my own personality, I'd probably adhere to those whether I'd ever heard of Christ or not. I would consider myself agnostic at this point.

 

Here's the dilemma. I am a choral musician and have taught music and directed choral groups for a number of years. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than to finely tune a piece of music with an ensemble in rehearsal, then perform it for an audience. Now there is a wealth of secular music, but so much of the repertoire comes from the Christian tradition.

 

So far this hasn't been a problem. I've been able to approach my singing academically, and have also performed works from other traditions. My dilemma is that even though I have rejected Christianity, I still enjoy working with church choirs. I'm currently an interim at a Presbyterian Church. There's no way I'd work at a conservative or fundamentalist church. Again, I have reconciled myself with my beliefs, and when this gig is over, I will miss the music, but won't miss the Sunday and Wednesday obligations.

 

To quote scripture (egads), I guess this is an example of "having a form of workshop but denying the power thereof." I know I'm not being honest with my congregation, but if I treat this a professional situation, and so far haven't had a problem.

 

Comments?

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It's music, regardless of the topic or the setting, it's still music.

 

I like all types of music, Islamic, Christian, whatever - music is MUSIC!

 

I see no contradiction with leading a choir, passion play, or anything else - it's entertainment.

 

Now, in my fundie days, I would scratch my head because most of the musicians in the big churches were as secular as they come. I knew they were there for only one reason, to express their art. As a fundie, I thought that was wrong.

 

I no longer think that. Now it makes perfect sense.

 

You need to express your creativity where you have opportunity, and if it's in the temple of Zeus, who cares? Religion is all pretend anyway. It's no different than making a sound track for a movie.

 

Besides, you can do some good there. You'll be living proof that belief in Christian myths doesn't hamper creativity or the ability to lift people's "spirits."

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I agree that there's no major conflict, although it would be great to find an ongoing gig that didn't cause this particular kind of stress.

 

Honestly don't know what I'd do in your position... In choir at high school I sung the alto part of the Hallelujah Chorus for a Christmas concert, and Bach's St. John Passion, too. Didn't believe a word of it even then, but I enjoyed the singing. But now I can't bring myself to sing the "God keep our land..." line in the Canadian national anthem, because it offends me.

 

As long as no one is dragging you into religious debates or demanding a statement of faith from you, carry on and enjoy the music!

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If I had such talent, I certainly wouldn't let it go to waste over such a minor technicality. If your "heart" is set on walking away from this, perhaps you could at least hold off until you make the arrangements necessary to continue on in a different direction.

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I am VERY particular about where I would ply my craft. Fortunately, this church does invite debate and even skepticism, hence my willingness to work here.

 

Now, some of the OTHER places I've worked....well....

 

BTW, that should have been "having a form of worship in the original post. Don't know where the hell "workshop" came from.

 

The funny thing is, I am comfortable with my music situation, church employment and beliefs. When I first started work at my present day job, when my colleagues found out that I'm a choir director, they all assumed I'm some fundy. I had one of my cow-orkers express surprise when he found out I brew beer!

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I am VERY particular about where I would ply my craft. Fortunately, this church does invite debate and even skepticism, hence my willingness to work here.

 

Now, some of the OTHER places I've worked....well....

 

BTW, that should have been "having a form of worship in the original post. Don't know where the hell "workshop" came from.

 

The funny thing is, I am comfortable with my music situation, church employment and beliefs. When I first started work at my present day job, when my colleagues found out that I'm a choir director, they all assumed I'm some fundy. I had one of my cow-orkers express surprise when he found out I brew beer!

 

I guess it's all relative.

 

I teach dance for a church group every now & again. And my friends who are connected with the endeavor know I'm not a Christian.

 

Though, if it's something they don't know, then it does seem like there might be a touch of deception you have to deal with there.

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I don't view it as deception unless you've actually lied. I would put your beliefs in the "None of your business" catagory, unless you choose to share them. You are there to do a job you enjoy.

 

Taph

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I still play with my old music group occasionally in church. They know I don't believe any longer but I enjoy the music we make and I would miss it. I cannot see the harm in participating for the enjoyment it brings, just carry on treating it as a professional situation and enjoy it!

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I don't view it as deception unless you've actually lied. I would put your beliefs in the "None of your business" catagory, unless you choose to share them. You are there to do a job you enjoy.

 

Taph

 

Nope - I haven't lied, but it hasn't come up. I have answered honestly on my views on church music, which are far different from my views on Christianity as a whole.

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I'm a professional musician too, and I used to have the opposite problem as a fundie. I'd play a gig in a bar or even an outdoor picnic and feel guilty because I wasn't 'using my gift to glorify God' and all that.

 

Now as long as I'm honest with myself, who cares so long as people are enjoying it. I wouldn't want to sing songs that I don't agree with, but I didn't then either, if that makes sense.

 

I think what you are doing is pretty cool. How many people are you teaching concerning music theory, harmony, performing and etc? They will have that knowledge and experience the rest of their lives, in whatever setting they find themselves.

 

Music is music, and knowledge is knowledge.

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Dudero - I had the same problem when I was playing in a band. My parents almost disowned me for given a concert with my band in a public park on a Sunday afternoon.

 

But to the topic at hand...

 

My gig at the present church ends on Easter Sunday. Gotta admit that the ensemble is very talented, and it's been fun working with them. However, I'm ready to have my Sundays back. Last Sunday night I got a call from a more conservative Baptist church seeking an interim "minister of music and worship." I said, "no", but it almost came out as, "no way in hell!"

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It's music, regardless of the topic or the setting, it's still music.

 

I like all types of music, Islamic, Christian, whatever - music is MUSIC!

 

I see no contradiction with leading a choir, passion play, or anything else - it's entertainment.

 

Now, in my fundie days, I would scratch my head because most of the musicians in the big churches were as secular as they come. I knew they were there for only one reason, to express their art. As a fundie, I thought that was wrong.

 

I no longer think that. Now it makes perfect sense.

 

You need to express your creativity where you have opportunity, and if it's in the temple of Zeus, who cares? Religion is all pretend anyway. It's no different than making a sound track for a movie.

 

Besides, you can do some good there. You'll be living proof that belief in Christian myths doesn't hamper creativity or the ability to lift people's "spirits."

 

 

Hey if Whitney Houston can do it so can you. The crack "whore" used to be one of the greatest voices out there, but do you really think she's religious? I say use the church to better yourself, educate yourself etc, because they sure as hell wouldn't have a problem using you if it suited them.

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When you step away from religion, nothing you do has to be about religion unless you make it that way. I don't mind if the religious are inspired by their religion to do good things. When they glorify it or do it for religion's sake, or think that their personal beliefs apply to everyone else, I doubt their honesty.

 

I've been invited to churches for social gatherings. It doesn't bother me to go and act a little, and people try to help me feel like I'm a part of it even if I'm not. I wear my TOOL hat and my Nine Inch Nails shirt, even there - not out of defiance or disrespect, but simply because that is how I choose to dress. I used to go to gothic cathedrals or castles in Germany just to admire the architecture and the atmosphere, but I saw nothing wrong in the fact that I was not a Catholic or a Templar.

 

None of this will stop me from going to see the pyramids, whether they are in Egypt or Peru -- though they, also, are religious. Religion is part of history and culture, as is music. There's no "establishment" you're betraying by continuing to enjoy and take part in your personal taste in music.

 

It's not about Christianity or Atheism. It's about YOU.

 

:grin:

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Beowulf,

 

You didn't say before that you played in a Public Park, in what I can only assume from context was a SECULAR BAND!!

 

You Hellbound sinner!!

 

And on A SUNDAY!?!?!?!!!

 

:eek::eek::eek:

 

 

But I have to ask...were you ever a fundie, or did you instead 'grow up in a fundie home'?

 

I only ask, because I don't know.

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Guest Fallen Angel

Some of my favourite music is religious. I watched Bach's St Matthew Passion today and I think The Messiah is my favourite classic piece of all time. I can still appreciate the beauty of it, though the words are meaningless nowadays. Enjoy your choral work. Switch off during the sermon, if you have to sit through one. Do crossword puzzles or listen to your Mp3 player :lmao:

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Beowulf,

 

You didn't say before that you played in a Public Park, in what I can only assume from context was a SECULAR BAND!!

 

You Hellbound sinner!!

 

And on A SUNDAY!?!?!?!!!

 

:eek::eek::eek:

 

 

But I have to ask...were you ever a fundie, or did you instead 'grow up in a fundie home'?

 

I only ask, because I don't know.

 

Yep, it was one of those artsy 70's Rock'n Roll Bands, so I'm headed straight for hell. ;)

 

I never considered myself a fundie. I often questioned why we went to a tiny Pentecostal Holiness church and not one of the more mainstream ones that my friends attended. I think that might have been what drew me into the Presbyterian Church initially. I was always turned off by statements by our pastor and other church members about how other denominations were going to hell for various reasons.

 

Enjoy your choral work. Switch off during the sermon, if you have to sit through one. Do crossword puzzles or listen to your Mp3 player :lmao:

 

Actually, a couple of weeks ago I fired up my Palm Lifedrive, hit the church's local wifi, and surfed the web during the sermon. After all, it was Palm Sunday.

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Actually, a couple of weeks ago I fired up my Palm Lifedrive, hit the church's local wifi, and surfed the web during the sermon. After all, it was Palm Sunday.

 

:lmao:

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Beowulf,

 

So what's up now with your music?

Are you done with churches?

Did you get your Sundays back?

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I'm a recording engineer, and I have had to deal with a slightly different aspect of this problem: whether or not to record xtian groups.

 

For awhile I did several gospel group CDs, because I needed the money. But I always felt guilty doing it, I felt like a "audio whore" that was comprimising my beliefs to make a few bucks. I would always cringe when they would ask how to spell my name when designing the cover art and liner notes, I could never figure out how to tell them I'd rather not have my name associated with the project. This wasn't "real" gospel, which I have no real beef with, but white "kareoke style" gospel that had grown men and women singing about mansions in the clouds and feasting at the table with jesus. They'd pray before every session, I remember once they forgot to pray before, and they were having a difficult night singing. They took a "prayer break" for about 15 minutes, came back, and were still just as bad as they were before hand. As a musician myself, I understood that sometimes it just dosen't happen, but they blamed the devil for trying to thwart their plans for a xmas CD. It's just too hard for me to keep quiet when people start talking like that! :twitch:

 

I've also had to go to location sights to record "conversion dinners", which was basicly a group of unsaved people dragged there by friends and family to have dinner and listen to a xtian motivational speaker like Chuck Coleson. Those were REALLY painful, cause they would preach obvious fallicies about the origins of xtianity and give the standard "public" image of xtianity. I can't tell you how many times I had to bite my tounge or go to the restroom to prevent me from standing up and heckling the speaker.

 

But I have Pat Robertson to thank for finally giving me the insight to see that I was doing more than paying my bills with those gigs. I was helping spread the message of hate and intolerance and was giving the xtian fundie movement just a bit more acceptance in the public eye. I have since decided I can not longer record openly xtian groups. I don't care what your personal beliefs are, but I cannot and will not help you spread religious crap around America.

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I too am a professional musician. I’ve had a lifelong love of Gospel music (Black Gospel, not that awful “Christian Pop/Rock”) as well as related forms, Soul and R&B. As a Christian I got crap for playing secular music. I don’t need or deserve similar limited thinking from Ex-Christians (including myself) for continuing to play Gospel. As several others have already pointed out, music is music, and it’s all entertainment.

 

Unfortunately my outlet is usually in a Fundie church, so some degree of tolerance is required on my part. I’m not “out” about my non-Christian status when I go there, mainly because I don’t want to be bothered with anyone witnessing to me. Since I'm now free from Christianity, I no longer need to proselytize, or to judge the music I play from a doctrinal standpoint (or lack of one).

 

I played recently for a gospel choir in a New Age church where they were very adamant about removing Christian references from the lyrics. This was very disturbing from an esthetic standpoint. Removing “Jesus” and “Lord” from traditional Gospel lyrics became a distraction – kind of like “fixing” a Country & Western tune by making it grammatically correct.

 

One place I draw the line is performing in a church or at a religious function with a blatantly offensive agenda – an openly homophobic church or a “pro-life” or “protection of marriage” rally for example. This a matter of the venue however; I wouldn’t be caught providing secular entertainment there either.

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Ohh man, Christian choral music - have you ever heard Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina? OH. MY. GOD. Sheer ecstasy.

 

I'm also into Anonymous 4, the group that sings mideval church chant and music. How four voices harmonize so perfectly and sound like an entire choir is unbelievable.

 

It's beautiful stuff! I love every minute of it! And I recognize it for what it is - a spiritual endeavor, trying to capture the feeling of the Divine in song. As for it being Christian, well, it's from an era when Europeans didn't have that much of a choice, so it's not as preachy and "Thank You God for Saving My Sorry Ass"-like as the more recent American-style compositions. (Hard to explain - I guess because they didn't feel like they were in competition for souls with other religions, at least not nearly as much as today, they could focus more on the philosophical and mystical.) In fact, most of it is Latin Liturgical stuff. Absolutely beautiful - indescribable.

 

As for "lying" to the congregation, don't worry about it. You love what you do, the music is beautiful, so don't bother yourself with the details. You'd be surprised how often it happens. I've known churches who proudly displayed works of Christian religious art - that weren't by Christians! Just because an sculptor might not believe that a saint even actually existed, doesn't mean that he can't make a statue of it beautiful.

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I understand why you feel the way you do on both sides of the coin. From being an ex-fundamental, I no longer attend church now but I'm passionate about music, above everything else! And exactly the same type of music you are referring to.

 

I cannot tell you what to do but my solution to the problem was to get myself involved in classical singing. I'm now a soprano in a 16 piece choir, we sing mainly Baroque and Renaissance music and it is to die for!!

 

Paradoxically, we are going to Rome in July to sing at the Sacra Musica (sacred music) festival at the Vatican - we are even doing a performance at St. Peter's Basilica! Do I have an ethical problem with this? Not a bit of it! I'm going to be singing the music I love at a really high profile venue in the glorious Italian mid-summer sunshine, what could possibly be better? I have no fear of God's displeasure since there is no God to upset.

 

As has already been said, the music is the music and that is that!! From Handel to Bach, from Monteverdi to my beloved Mozart especially (the only god in my eyes [or ears]) - it is men who created this music and they are the people I acknowledge when I sing my heart out, not God, he is just the words after all and since most of them are in Latin, who cares??

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