Music Through the Eyes of Faith, Chapter 6

Music Through the Eyes of Faith, by Harold Best, is a book I re-read every few years. Dr. Best is Dean Emeritus of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and his book should be required reading for every Christian musician.

I'm embarking on another reading of Music Through the Eyes of Faith and over the coming weeks will be sharing some thoughts. These posts won't be a formal review and will not attempt to be comprehensive. I'll just be sharing items that stand out to me as I read - quotes, ideas, insights, and wisdom.

Previous posts in this series: IntroChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4, Chapter 5.


Favorite Quotes from Chapter 6

[speaking of musical quality] While it is true that God can speak through the mouth of a jackass (Numbers 22:21ff) or allow the gospel to be preached out of envy (Philippians 1:15), it is not true that these are God’s preferred ways of speaking. Even so, there are those who might assume that because God chooses to speak these ways at times and seemingly allows positive results to come about, they should either use, or become, jackasses themselves.
— p. 117
This overuse of electronic “steroids” [technological devices] is not only aesthetically duplicit but also unethical. It reinforces the romantic and pagan notion that artists not only are better than most people, they are Other than most.
— p. 121
One of the aesthetic tenants of pluralism is that while quality is always an issue, it can be found in many kinds of music. The same is true of profundity. Many kinds of music can be profound, as long as we understand that there is more than one kind of profundity.
— p. 122
Something can be vulgar, common, or coarse and still have integrity, worth, and aesthetic winsomeness. If we connect the three in their positive sense, we thing of peasant folk, laborers, hopsacking, stews and porridges, carpenter’s tools, things made with deep insight and little schooling, artifacts that show the mystery of simplicity and economy, works of art that possess dialectical and vernacular eloquence, expressions in which poetic spirit validates grammatical propriety, handiwork that shows the union of beauty, coarseness, and eloquence.
Catsup is common or coarse or vulgar, as are hash browns and onions, bratwurst, scrapple, shoofly pie, whole-grain bread, “I Wonder as I Wander,” bluegrass, the blues, a cobbler’s bench, thatched roofing, quilting, polkas, jigs, pie safes, Grandma Moses, hand-hewn timbers, shaped-note hymnody, and mountain dulcimers.
Béarnaise is high—haute cuisine, part of a larger elegance and finesse—as are pâté, Mozart operas, Dutch realism, silk, cloisonné, crystal, baroque pipe organs, sonnets, Shakespearian drama, Debussy, George Shearing, marquetry, L’arc de Triomphe, the cathedral of Notre Dame, ballet, classical rhetoric, and Andrew Wyeth.
— p 126