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'God is interested in excellence'

"'God is interested in excellence'" Continued...

Issue: "Berger can't keep a secret," July 31, 2004

What about pop music, what most of their friends are listening to? Some admitted to enjoying pop music in its place. But there is a difference, said Miss Lobenhofer, between art and entertainment. Art makes us pay attention to something eternal. Entertainment, though, diverts us from the eternal.

The students see their music ability as a gift from God and, thus, as a function of their calling. "Music is exactly what He wants me to do," said Mr. Niehoff. "If He wants me to be in an orchestra, that will happen." If it doesn't, God simply wants him to be somewhere else.

But the doctrine of vocation also has to do with loving and serving one's neighbor. How does music and all of the hard, solitary work that goes along with practice and performance do any good to anyone else? The neighbor that a performing artist is to love and serve, according to several of the students, is the audience.

According to Miss Lobenhofer, "when we think of the audience, our performance is better." The music is "a gift we give to them." When she performs, she is giving something both to God and to her neighbors who are enjoying her music.

Miss Peck went even further into the doctrine of vocation. In the grueling work that goes into a seemingly effortless performance - these students typically practice six hours a day - we are, she said, "sacrificing ourselves to give something beautiful to the audience."

It is in vocation, among other places, that we present our bodies as a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1). This is true whether our calling is to be a musician or factory worker or business executive or citizen or parent or spouse, or some combination of these vocations. We must sacrifice ourselves for our neighbor in all of them, an often small act of self-denying love that is a cross-bearing, a sign in our everyday lives of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Miss Brandys told WORLD that MasterWorks has helped her learn how to become a professional, how to become an artist, more so even than the conservatory where she studies through the year. She says that MasterWorks has helped her to grow spiritually, musically, and artistically - all together, as she learns how all three are connected.

Understanding such connections is important for Christians in all vocations and for the church as a whole. If we would cultivate the particular gifts God has given to us and if we would exercise our callings as God intends, Christians might once again have an impact on the culture as we once did. As Christian artists such as Bach, Handel, Mendelsohn, and Haydn did.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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