Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Letter to the editor

I did something novel today--I wrote my first letter to the editor! I was reading my latest issue of Smithsonian Magazine, as is my tradition, and I read a very interesting article about native cannibals in New Guinea. The reporter ventured into an extremely remote place to visit a tribe--he was the first light-skinned person they've ever seen there. All others were far too scared to go into that territory. This is one of the only existing cannabalistic tribes left. Read the whole story in the Sept. 2006 issue of Smithsonian.

The part that struck me and inspired me to write the letter was where the people (the Korowai) told of "a powerful spirit, named Ginol, who created the present world after having destroyed the previous four...." (vaguely reminiscent of the Flood) The tradition continues, "white-skinned ghost-demons will one day invade Korowai land. Once the laleo [what they call the white-skinned ones] arrive, Ginol will obliterate this fifth world. The land will split apart, there will be fire and thunder, and mountains will drop from the sky. This world will shatter, and a new one will take its place." Another part of the article quotes a Dutch missionary who declined to penetrate the Korowai land after he heard the story that "'a very powerful mountain god warned the Korowai that their world would be destroyed by an earthquake if outsiders came into their land to change their customs.'"

Here's the letter I emailed to the editor:

It's amazing that the remote Korowai people, who have never had contact with Western people, much less Christian missionaries, could have in their religious tradition a prophecy that a powerful god would cause fire, thunder, and land to split apart and end the earth when outsiders with other traditions come to their land. Have they really never read the apocalyptic vision in Revelation 16:18-20--"and there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occured since men were on the earth....Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found"--along with Matthew 24:14--"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come"?

I'm sure it won't be published. Smithsonian is a scientific institution, very proud of its athiestic positions and evolutionary teachings. But maybe it would be interesting from an anthropological point of view. Probably not, though--Satan works hard to intercept any light of truth from institutions such as that. But God is more powerful. Pray that the Gospel really will be preached to all nations soon.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Quote for the day

Just wanted to share a beautiful quote today. I hope whoever reads this will find as much comfort in sorrow as I have.

"The Saviour longs to give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love." Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 200

P.S. If you are ever sad about anything, open up pretty much any page EGW has written and you will find God's comfort more beautifully described than you could ever even dream up yourself.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Sometimes I wonder why I play the violin.

Most people have useful jobs, such as a doctor or a bricklayer or a mailman or salesman or air conditioner repairman.

But what is the point of playing a musical instrument?

If I were a singer, people would remember the words to my songs, and if they were good words, they could remember a good message from them. But my music has no words, therefore no meaning, good or bad.

But there is absolutely no purpose for playing a musical instrument.
Which is exactly why I do it.

Evolutionists can think up purposes for so many things on Earth: photosynthesis, plate tectonics, hydrogen, DNA, and so on. But they often get hung up on music. The human ear is profoundly complex--years of study cannot fully give a comprehension of exactly how sound waves are transformed into signals in the brain which are interpreted as meaningful sounds. Evolutionists can make a case for the sociological advantage of communication in verbal language. But what about musical sounds, which do not have any symbolic meaning and cannot be identified with any other sense?

I can't think, off the top of my head, of anything else on earth that does not have any other meaning through any other sense besides instrumental music. I suppose you could count the kind of gas that you can only smell and not see or feel (although sophisticated devices may be able to measure their weight). But most objects can be perceived through a combination of senses--sight, touch, smell. Spoken words are only perceived through the ear, but they symbolize things that can be perceived some other way: if I say "chair" you would have the sensual experience of an object with legs and a platform to sit on, perhaps with a smooth or soft feel, and the smell of leather or rubber. And concepts such as "kindness" are equated with physical actions and physical objects, such as giving a glass of water to a thirsty enemy.

If you are aquainted with music, you understand what I mean by the emotional, even physical, response to a certain arrangement of harmonies--that the stimulus is communicating something, but not something clearly defined such as a "chair" or "strawberry" or even "kindness" or "hope." The communication draws us to something unknown.

"Physical pleasures are subdivided into two types. First there are those which fill the whole organism with a conscious sense of when we eat and drink.... However, there are also pleasures which satisfy no organic need, and relieve no previous discomfort. They merely act, in a mysterious but quite unmistakable way, directly on our senses....Such is the pleasure of music." (Thomas More, Utopia)

C.S. Lewis describes this well in Mere Christianity: "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists....If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world."

In The Great Divorce, Lewis describes an angelic citizen of Heaven talking with a painter visiting there: "'When you painted on was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too...Light itself was your first love; you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.'"

If the visual arts exist to give humans glimpses of light through what can be seen and felt with several senses (and what can at least attempt to be explained through naturalistic theory), how much more can music, otherwise completely useless as it is, give us a glimpse of something even less humanly explainable?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Prayer request

To all my friends who like to pray for prayer requests, I have a personal request: I just found out that they changed the rehearsal schedule for the Redlands Symphony Orchestra this year to have Friday night rehearsals. The RSO is the only orchestra I play with anymore and one of the last ones to not have any Friday night or Saturday services; I used to play with the San Bernardino Symphony but I let that one go because they have Saturday afternoon rehearsals. Those who know me know how much I love playing in orchestra; music is my career and my passion, and although I get most of my income from teaching, playing in orchestra is one of my favorite things to do. I've played in orchestras every year since fifth grade, and it's been the foundational thing in my musical life. I can't forsee any orchestras not having any Sabbath conflicts. Satan is working overtime on God's people who "keep the commandments of God" (Rev. 14:12), especially the overlooked fourth commandment. I know I'm not alone in these kinds of struggles--my recent study of Daniel 9 taught me that we ought to pray for our people, for all believers, because we are all in this together. May God strengthen us for whatever conflicts we have ahead of us in our communal struggle to live according to God's commandments.