Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent

I'm posting this mostly as accountability, but some may be interested.  I will be observing Lent in the following ways:

Eating vegetarian
- Meghan and I have been greatly challenged in our eating habits of late.  This video is a main part of it, but I've also been studying Genesis closely about the distinction between carnivore and herbivore from the perspective of humanity.  I wrote this to someone recently about it.  Somewhat sums up my initial thoughts:    
As for the intentions of what humans were to eat "from the beginning," the argument for some is that in the creation stories of Genesis 1-3, God only mentions to Adam eating of plants.  It says that God made the plants for food for humanity and the animals to eat.  In the first account of creation, it's mentioned at 1:29.  In the second account of creation, it's at 2:9 and again at 2:16.  Then in Genesis 3, after the disobedience, God only mentions Adam eating "from the plants" (v. 18).  

While there might be made an implication that Cain eats of his sheep in chapter 4, it's really not until after the flood at the beginning of chapter 9 that God gives provision of the eating of the animals.

Now...

...I would never really run with this dogmatically whatsoever, but it does make us think about how much we consume.  If the establishment of the Kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven) is indeed somewhat of a return to Eden, vegetarianism could
 play a role in the already-but-not-yet-revealing of the Kingdom of God.

Again, I wouldn't run with this dogmatically, but it's something to think about.
So I'm trying the traditional practice of Lent to not eat meat.  I don't hold it as prescriptive for everyone else (yet!), but I am challenged by how we overconsume meat to the overall detriment of the earth.  I'm the first to say that I could pound a plate of buffalo wings or a 12 ounce steak.  But with the rate that everyone's going, I'm concerned about health: ours and the earth's.  This was one of my commitments from Saturday's Boston Faith & Justice event that I already blogged about.

We'll see how it goes...because I love meat.

Showering every other day for less than five minutes - This also comes out of the Boston Faith & Justice event.  I already bought a shower timer a while ago.  Of all the travesties in the world, the fact that so many are incredibly sick and even die from the lack of access to clean water sickens me.  We're talking about water here (I feel like Allen Iverson).  WATER!!!  My cutting back on showering for a while will not give them clean water, but it will in very small part remind me of their plight.  In addition, it will save water, money, and energy right here where I live.  

So I'll be showering on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the days I play basketball.  (And Sunday, of course.)

This is what I call my "reminder that I'm human" for Lent.  You may remember that I didn't shave during Lent last year.  Part of what's happening for me in this time of preparation for Easter is a reminder that I am human and I need God.

Less sports radio, more reading -  I am going to look into going from standard to basic cable to save time and money.  In Kansas City we just used an antenna, but here in Hingham, it's useless.  If we want any TV at all, we have to have cable in some fashion.  But we could save a bit every month by going to basic.  We'll lose a lot of what I watch (NESN, ESPN, CNN, Discovery: basically the sports and news stations) and what Meghan watches (TLC, etc.).

But for Lent, I will not listen to sports radio.  I did this last year as well (though admittedly, much of the impetus was that the Patriots had just lost the SB, and I didn't want to listen to it).  

In place, I'll be reading more.  I'm reading five books throughout Lent: continuing Evangelism After Christendom and Finding Our Way Again, and beginning Beyond Homelessness, Between Cross & Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday, and The Story of God.  I've made a reading schedule which is somewhat aggressive on some days and not so much on others.  

There will be some other things going on during Lent coming out of our church community.  

But these are the big things for myself.  Perhaps I'll post those after I hand them out to North Street.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is terrorism? (...and what is our response?)

One of the things I really enjoy about being in Hingham is participating in the religious leaders association (and don't you dare call it a "clergy group").  The Hingham & Hull Religious Leaders Association meets monthly, is well-organized with a president, VP, treasurer, and usually 15-20 attendees at the monthly lunch meeting.  The group also includes counselors and compassionate center leaders (including NCM Friends of the Homeless).  While there have been one or two "almost intense" discussions in my three years of participation (I'm there probably 75% of the time), I am amazed and proud of the collegial and friendly interaction amongst our group, which includes faith traditions Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Benedictine, United Methodist, Unitarian-Universalist, Reform Jewish, liberal conservative Jewish, Congregational (UCC), American Baptist, Conservative Baptist, Baha'i, and Mormon (LDS).  

A smaller group of us meets regularly for lunch and extended conversation (a rabbi, UU minister, Baptist minister, UCC minister, and me, the Nazarene...yeah, go ahead and make your jokes).  I've really enjoyed this group.  Each of us knows that we believe different things, but we know that we come to that table without fear of discrimination, proselytization, or anything other than helping each other figure each other out.  Indeed, I feel like I'm a better follower of Christ because of my learning and understandings from this group.  Are we different?  Definitely.  Do we get heated sometimes in dicussion?  Yes...if we didn't, then I might actually feel like I'm compromising.

The HHRLA hosts a number of events every year including an MLK, Jr. event, a Thanksgiving Eve community gathering, and several "Hot Topics" forums.  These forums have discussed things such as Heaven & Hell, Faith & Politics, and End of Life Ethics.  The format usually has 3-4 of us sharing about the topic from our faith perspective.  Last night we held another forum, this one answering the question, "What is terrorism and what does our faith do in response?".  I shared for the first time last night.  After reading McLaren's Everything Must Change, Yoder's Politics of Jesus, and Claiborne's Jesus for President all in the last six months, I had some feelings on the subject.

Below is what I shared.  


My name is Jeremy Scott.  I serve as Pastor & Teacher at North Street Community Chapel, a Church of the Nazarene.

Before I begin, a preliminary...I maintain a online blog and the blog is in my name.  And on my blog, I give this disclaimer: 
The written understandings expressed on this website and blog are solely those of Jeremy D. Scott and are not necessarily (though perhaps hopefully!) representative of the International Church of the Nazarene, North Street Community Chapel, or any individual or organization other than Jeremy D. Scott. If you happen to quote this website/blog, be sure that it's quoted to "Jeremy D. Scott," and not as necessarily representative of the aforementioned groups.

While the words I write and speak are certainly reflective of my upbringing, my education, my family, my experience, and my life in a certain faith tradition, namely the International Church of the Nazarene, a Wesleyan-Arminian denomination, to single out my words and feelings as wholly representative of any one of these bodies or experiences is hardly accurate.  You'll find members of my family, members of my denomination, and professors I've had each of whom may disagree with portions of what I'll say tonight.  But that's the beauty of living within the story of humanity, isn't it?

All those who speak publicly in front of crowds know that a small percentage of spoken words are retained by listeners.  So many a Sunday morning, as I stand in front of my small community at North Street, I find myself saying, "If you only hear one thing this morning, pay attention right now and hear this."  

I'll offer the same kind of thing this evening.  If you only hear one thing about my perspective on terrorism as one who follows Christ, hear these words from Henri Nouwen: "Much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared."

While I'll work from the definition of terror as "that which uses various expressions of power to elicit fear through intimidation."  The question of terrorism for me really comes down to a discussion of power.  And power, in speaking of terrorism, is so very related to a discussion of inequity, a vast chasm on the spectrum of prosperity.  If terrorism were put on one end of a spectrum of labeled "responses to power," the other end of the spectrum from my viewpoint would be resistance through love and self-sacrifice.  And much like the opposite end of the spectrum - a response of love, that is - terrorism is defined by the eye of the beholder.  What is terrorism to one is heroism to another.  

Any good dictionary follows a definition with examples.  This is where things can get difficult.  For myself, the spectrum of terrorism runs from the obvious: flying planes full of people into buildings full of people to make a statement - to the not-so-obvious to some: the use of torture for information extraction or the use of a massive bomb for the purpose of a statement of power.

So as a follower of Christ, how do I respond to terrorism...

Christian author and activist Brian McLaren, in his 2008 book, Everything Must Change sets out in one part of the book to propose three metaphors in response to the problems of international security, equity, and prosperity.  While I have not the time to go in depth with these metaphors, they are hopefully somewhat self-explanatory.  He says that Jesus might respond to these problems, all today an imbalance of power, with a "divine peace insurgency," an "unterror movement," or a "new global love economy."  (at this point, I read from the book)

And the topic of power is one to which I believe the life of Jesus of Nazareth greatly spoke, particularly noting the society, government, and culture in which he walked and lived (I'll get back to this in a second...).

Really, a response to terrorism is in effect a national security plan.  And a true Christian response to terrorism is "a national security plan that won't be winning any elections."

Activist and "new monk" Shane Claiborne wonders in jest why we never hear the words of the Gospel according to Matthew 10:39 from the mouth of a president: "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."  (read from book)

Even the Old Testament, which at first has seemingly exemplar examples of genocide and terrorism in the eradication of peoples in the Promised Land by the nation of Israel, the nature of God as written and understood by those who were called his people gravitated towards Jesus' understandings in certain times.  I Samuel 2: "...not by might does one prevail."  Zechariah 4:6 - "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord."

But terrorism is about demonstrating the most power at any given moment to one-up the opposing side.  For the follower of Christ, this is unacceptable.  Christian preacher Barbara Brown Taylor wonders, "If Jesus wanted his followers to conquer the world, why did he teach them to wash feet?"

Perhaps you remember the Presidential Forum held at the evangelical Christian Saddleback Church in California, over which Rick Warren was moderator.  The question as asked was, "Does evil exist and what do we do about it?"  While one candidate's answer satisfied me more than the other, they both made the conclusion that we play a great part in eliminating evil.  That evil can be squashed by human endeavor and that this is the role even of the United States.  

And though this may be the response of many Christian groups, and indeed win elections, I hardly believe it to be the response of the human being that was and is Jesus.  Would Jesus say that evil can and will be ridden once and for all?  Yes, definitely.  Does Jesus live by example in human form demonstrating how to fight evil?  Yes, of course.  Does Jesus give example of squelching evil by force?  No, not when it counted most.

It's not by mistake to me that the central image of the Christian religion is perhaps the greatest icon of terrorism of all-time.  The cross or crucifix was the tool of terrorism of the Roman Empire: the society, culture, and way of living into which Jesus of Nazareth was born.  It was no accident that crucifixions were carried out in public, on high places, for days at a time, where all could see and remember the sight, the anguish, and the stench.  The pax romana, that is the peace of Rome, came at great cost to tens of thousands of human beings who served as blatant and obvious reminders of what happens to anyone who dares to challenge the pax romana.  This is terrorism: as I know it: "that which uses various expressions of power to elicit fear through intimidation."

And so was Jesus' response to this terrorism was to fight back, to give 'em what they give, to fight fire with fire, and to squelch by force the powers of oppression?  No, not at all.  As it goes, Christ succumbed to the cross, "took it up," so to speak, and lay down his own life.  

I'll conclude again from scripture, and from a passage that I believe to be central to Christian ethics: Philippians 2: 5-11, which reads:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited, 
but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, 
   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross. 

Therefore God also highly exalted him
   and gave him the name
   that is above every name, 
so that at the name of Jesus
   every knee should bend,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue should confess
   that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father. 

From a human perspective, this seems foolish, and it's certainly not the natural response.  This is for us part of what Paul means when he says in I Corinthians 1: "...the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us it IS the power of God."  

But as a follower of Christ, that's why I believe that we see the best of humanity and divinity when we look at the person of Jesus Christ.

-------------------------------------------------

Some discussion ensued after.  

The general notion of the forum was that the panel was pacifistic.  I'd rather describe myself as an "almost-but-not-quite-pacifist."  At one point, the statement was made that "not doing anything" isn't how somebody wants to respond to terrorism.  I tried to clarify that I never said I wouldn't want to do anything.  There is a difference between pacifism and passivism.  Pacifism can be and ought to be proactive while passivism is...well...passive.

I have more thoughts, but that's good for now.  This post is already a few weeks delayed.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Church

I haven't been this transparent on this blog in a while.  

Went to the Boston Faith & Justice Network's Gratitude Economy: Gratitude & Creation tonight at Park Street Church, at which Shane Claiborne was the main speaker.

Meh...

I'm sick of "hearing."  

My feelings can be summed up by two songs:

In the spirit of the first song, I'm frustrated.  I've "heard" it all.  Been in the classroom.  Read the books.  Sat in the discussion groups.  Blogged.  Thought about it (a lot).  Discussed it...none of it's satisfied what I believe it means to be in Christian community together.  Sure, I do the one-on-one loving in the sense of the Great Commandment(s) (though certainly I have a lot more to do...to be).  But I want to be part of a group of people doing the same...

In the spirit of the second song, I know I can't just give up.  It's so tempting to move away to northern Vermont and live where I won't be distracted by the things around here (though certainly I'd find distractions there too), and to, in the words of Mother Teresa, "Find my own Calcutta" up there.

I don't know...I'm not sure any of this is coherent.

The grass is always greener, right?

"If  you love Me, you will love the Church."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Adam Hamilton on Homosexuality & the Church

I have a few "favorite pastors" whom I greatly value...individuals that I am very thankful are great leaders in the evangelical church and leaders to whom I think we need to look for vision for the future of the Church, particularly in the United States.  These include "popular" names like Greg Boyd and Tim Keel, but also some Nazarenes like Jon Middendorf and Scott Daniels.  Perhaps the most recognized individual I really appreciate is Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.  Meghan and I would go there on Saturday evenings quite often to worship while we were in Kansas City.  I'm not big on big churches...but I could be a part of CoR if I weren't in ministry (though living in KC would be difficult!).

Anyway, below is Adam's response to a question about homosexuality & the Church.  He elucidates my feelings very well.  You can hear the overtones and opinions of the questioner in the way the question is asked..."reaches gays and lesbians".  I might have said "ministers to...".  Anyway, here it is:

SHANE: You recently preached a sermon on a controversial topic: homosexuality. Your position on this subject seems to have moved left over the years, but you show an unusual amount of respect for people on both sides of the issue and you even appear to be attempting to forge a "third way." What would be your advice to congregations that take far left or far right positions on this? Is it possible to take a traditional position on homosexuality and still be a congregation that effectively reaches gays and lesbians?

ADAM: I think it will be increasingly difficult to be a vocal proponent of the current UM position on homosexuality and effectively reach the next generation, or to effectively reach gays and lesbians. I think one might hold the current UM stance and not address the issue and reach them. One might, for the next five years (ten years in the south) articulate our current position with great compassion, and still reach young adults, homosexuals and their friends, family and co-workers. But the world is changing and I think the church will see this issue differently in the future. I'm convinced that all of the evangelical churches will wrestle with this issue in ten to fifteen years or they will have lost a generation and will themselves begin a steady period of decline. Sunday I asked our congregation to raise their hands if they have a close friend or someone they love who is gay. 90% of the congregation raised their hands. These folks already see greater complexity in this issue than the church does. They may still be a bit more conservative, but they will not tolerate churches that speak in ways that are cruel and insensitive about their friends. It's one thing to debate homosexuality as a hypothetical argument about someone you hardly know. It is another thing to consider a position regarding the life of someone you love.

My own journey and position on this involves several things: First, I continue to acknowledge that the scripture teaches that heterosexuality is normative and, to use Leslie Weatherhead's language from his book, The Will of God, God's "intentional will." The second is to recognize that there is a small portion of the population that seems to be shaped differently from that intention, either at birth or by early childhood, and usually not by a choice that was their own. For these heterosexuality will be very difficult to live into, even with the kind of "reparative therapy" offered by some. Next, after thirty years of daily Bible reading I have come to recognize that the Bible is a more complex document than most people would like to admit. It is both a book written by human beings who were shaped by their cultural and theological presuppositions, and the limitations of their knowledge, and it is a book through which God has spoken and continues to speak. This recognition gives us the ability to wrestle with the texts on homosexuality and to at least ask questions of them (did God really intend that homosexuals be stoned to death? Does God really see the gay children who we baptized, gave third grade Bibles to, confirmed and raised up as an "abomination"?) Fourth, we have a clear mandate, throughout scripture, concerning demonstrating love. We are to "do justice and to love mercy." Finally, what has most affected me and my views of this issue over the years has been my love of the children in our congregation. Having been in this church nearly 19 years, more than a dozen of the children I've baptized and watched grow up in the church later "came out" - I love these children (now young adults) and as I listen to their stories, and the way they've been treated by other Christians, I find myself being very protective of them. Likewise, in a congregation of 16,000 people, if we're reaching a representative sample of the community, 5% of these - roughly 800 people - are gay or lesbian. And I feel a great compassion and care for those in my flock that I know who are gay. So, both in my theological reflection about the nature of God, the nature of scripture and the nature of love, and in my personal experience with children and youth I care about in my flock, I find my views moderating on this issue.

I've tried to navigate a third way that says that we at Church of the Resurrection will agree to disagree about this issue - we've got folks on both sides. But we will continue to try to learn, grow and understand more clearly both the issue of homosexuality and how God looks at his children who are gay. And we will be a place where no one's children are turned away, or wounded by our church. I have tried to model how we might affirm the normative status of heterosexuality while seeing homosexuality with fresh and more sensitive and understanding eyes than we have in the past.

I still have a lot of unresolved questions about homosexuality, but what I've said captures the struggle, and the journey, I've been on.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Best Music of All-Time

I've been working on this post for months. In some ways, I've been working on it for my whole life.  I reserve all rights to make changes in the future, although since this actual post took me months to write, I can't imagine too many changes will be likely.

I'm a huge fan, devotee, connoisseur, and lover of music. While I do not consistently listen to all forms, I appreciate all forms. You won't find me listening regularly to opera, rap, or hip-hop, but even these I have come to appreciate in certain moments (like this one or this one).

The following list is my Top Twenty Best Compositions of All-Time. I don't expect people to agree with me. It wouldn't necessarily make sense. I liken making a list like this with giving an opinion as to "the best spouse ever." It's going to vary from person to person, and for good reason. "Best" is relative.  This list, while claiming "all-time" is quite obviously affected by a number of demographics, not to mention time itself - I live in the 21st century in the United States.  Anyway...

Actually, one last thing before the list...any interpretation of the lyrics or meaning of a song is pretty much my own.  That's one of the beauties of art, isn't it?  While the artist most likely has an intent with the work, it becomes up to the interpretation of the recipient who gets to enjoy the work down the road.  Any good artist realizes this and seeks to elicit emotions from the listener or observer.  

I tried to assess an order to these...I couldn't, with the exception of a "Top Three."  The others are in little to no order.

Let me begin:

Where the Streets Have No Name, U2 - The link is probably my favorite version. It was in Boston. I wasn't there, but I should have been. I've been to a lot of good shows and concerts, but my "resume" will not complete without hearing this live.

The Strong, the Tempted, & the Weak, Derek Webb - Sorry, but I couldn't find an audio file online or at YouTube. The link is to lyrics.  The song led me to blog once.

Worlds Apart, Jars of Clay - I bought Jars' first album on a whim during my freshman year of high school before anyone had really heard of them.  For a long time they were considered my "favorite band."  I've seen them live over 20 times, from Mama Kin's in Boston (my first 18+ show...I was 16...thanks, Jeff) to SoulFest to my favorite show at the Paradise in Boston. The link is a pretty long live version.  This song has brought me through a number of difficult times in life.  I've tried to listen to a lot of "Christian" bands over the years.  Only Jars have stuck (and perhaps Derek Webb).  

More Than A Feeling, Boston - Thanks to Ray for turning me on to Boston.  This is one of many songs that are meant for driving with all the windows down and the volume turned up.

Today, Smashing Pumpkins - Not really sure what the video's all about, but it's just a great song.  

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, Allman Brothers Band - I never got to see them live, but this is my favorite song from the band.  Love the way it builds into a classic 70s jam.

Dissolve, Guster - (The link is to a site with a clip of the song...Guster's record company must have a strangle-hold on their songs, because I couldn't find anything on YouTube.)  At some point in high school, I was at the CD store in the mall, looking through the Jars of Clay section (I wasn't looking for anything other than to see what they had...I already had everything possible put out by Jars).  A salesclerk came up and said that if I liked the acoustic rock sound of Jars, I would like "this three-man band with two guitars and bongos."  Turns out it was Guster.  I bought their first album (Parachutes), and have a couple more, but none of the later ones.  I should check them out again.  I later befriended the salesclerk, Mark Lisavich, and we went to at least one show together (turns out we had mutual friends).  Anyway, the whole of the Parachutes is incredible, but I remember listening to this song over and over.  By the way, I don't really think that Jars and Guster sound much alike...but it doesn't matter.  The notion got me to Guster.

Fake Plastic Trees, Radiohead - Do you remember those sob songs that you'd listen to in high school when someone rejected you or you got turned down by a girl or something?  Yeah, this was one of them for me.  I also like this acoustic version.

As I've listened to it more over the years though, the lyrics have actually come to mean something very deep for me, and for anyone who's ever been addicted to anything.  It speaks of the things in life that are enjoyable in the moment, but over time become shallow, cheap, and ultimately a hindrance to greater truth and goodness, rather than feeding it.

One, U2 - The link is a great version with Mary J. Blige.  This song is saturated with theology.  I used it for this video.

So Well, Strangefolk (Reid Genauer) - The link is a horrible video of an acoustic version of the song. Reid Genauer is a great folky songwriter and lyricist.  I wish Strangefolk had never lost Reid, but I can't blame a man for searching for his own.  Regardless, this song brings back many memories of the Somerville Theater, and speaks well of life and death, even touching on some of my theology, though Reid may likely cringe at the thought.

Hoedown, Bela Fleck & the Fleck (originally Aaron Copeland) - (skip to 1:50 on the YouTube clip for the song) One of the signs of a great composition is the numerous musicians who seek to tap into the complexities of the composition (for the younger, "covering" a song) to make it their own. Emerson Lake & Palmer's version is great. But my favorite is by Bela Fleck.

All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix (originally Bob Dylan) - Another song redone by many. I used to listen to the Dave Matthew's Band's version a lot. U2's is great.

David Bowie, Phish - The song title is "David Bowie" and has little to nothing to do with the guy who wore tights in The Labrinth. This was my favorite Phish song for a long time.  There are a lot of good songs with extended jams from Phish, but this is one of the originals.

Jamming, Bob Marley - There are a number of Bob Marley songs I could put up here, but the four chords at the beginning of this are legendary, pardon the pun.

Prince Caspian, Phish - Just a great tune.  I used to put Brayden to sleep with it when he was a baby.  It has no theological significance or relation to the book from the Chronicles of Narnia (at least, not according to any published report by the band), but it's a great song.

Slave to the Traffic Light, Phish - I used to have this bumper sticker in my car that said, "See the city, see the zoo, traffic light won't let me through" (lyrics from the song).  Who of us who have ever seen the light sticks flying at a Phish concert can forget this song?

Big Country, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones - Very simple on this one: this song makes me happy. It's very relaxing, soothing, and pretty incredible composition-wise. I'm not sure I've seen a show with more musical talent on one stage than this group. If I could switch Carter Beaford for Future Man, this would easily be the most talented band on the planet.

Etude in C-minor ("Revolutionary"), Frederick Chopin - I was turned on to this piano solo by my friend J. Paul Pepper who can play it. A powerful quick song.

3. The Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi - I kid you not: I used to listen to this over and over in my room when in middle and high school, flailing my arms as if I were the conductor. I particularly like the Winter I portion, the end of Winter III (intense!), and Summer I.

2. Fix You, Coldplay - This is the newest song on the list.  I don't even know what to say.  It's an incredible song.  I suppose if I listened to it 20 times in a row, I might get bored of it...but not 10 times in a row.  I actually do often listen to it 3 or 4 times in a row.  My kids love it.  I've used this in worship and at a funeral.  This is a song of redemption, a song of putting back together something that has gone wrong.  I see it holistically for the world: "Lots of times things suck.  That's not what God in Christ wants."

1. Messiah - Hallelujah, George Frederic Handel - It just, well, I can't help but be blown away by this song. It can certainly be overdone and when it's used comically or as a fill-in in a movie, it seems cheap, but when it comes down to it, this composition is loaded with inspiration, power, and truth. It's when music can inspire beyond the notes that it most moves me. The image of a final creation with "Christ and all things Christ," with no sorrow, all that ails and plagues us wiped away - that's pretty powerful. Handel does a "pretty good" job of putting this to sound.  Most who've ever actually sat and listened through Messiah and gotten to this part can tell you how powerful it is.

All right, have at it...