Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Music and Art in Times of Struggle

Everybody knows the best music and art comes during cultural and personal struggle. We look to our artists, musicians, creative actors, playwrights and performers to interpret the trauma and pain we are all going through into art that speaks truth, art that helps us grieve and art that helps us heal. I'm hoping that at least one really good thing to come out of the next four years will be amazing music. Hopefully we will have music that drives people toward positive change, greater compassion, ideals that help us push forward when we feel like giving up, and greater love for our neighbors. Thinking about the mainstream and popular music of the past decade I don't have much good to say. I think the innocuous music we've heard no the radio is evidence of where we are as a culture. But, you don't have to dig too deep into the underground of just about any genre to find prophetic voices, creative new interpretations and music that deserves to be heard. If you're longing for something better than Facebook feeds and twitter wars one place to go is to the artists of our day. 

Our drummer Chris recording some new tracks
Even better for your soul than experiencing other people's art might be to go create yourself. Alyssa has been saying for at least a year that she wants to get back to our music. I had all but given up on trying to write and create original music. I'm not a great songwriter and definitely not prolific. I'm a halfway decent guitarist, but find the walls and roadblocks in by abilities very frustrating. I had all but walked away from trying to play music outside of The Open Door Church. But Alyssa and I had never not played music together since the time we met. In 1994 we met in highschool and within a month started playing in a band together and quickly were playing with my best friends in some Pittsburgh's top clubs. Quickly I realized she was the more talented one, she could sing, write and play classically and improvisational. In our 20s we recorded two full length albums with our band This Side of Eve. It was a passion to write, record and perform. It was also a lot of hard work. 
Lyle playing his violin for the first time! 
Two weeks ago, after renovating a room in our house for playing music, we began writing and recording new music again. While life has been really full for me over the past ten years (planting a church, starting a farm, and raising three kids) recently I thought it might be time that I support my wife in her desire to refocus on her passion for writing and performing together. We never quit playing music at The Open Door, but maybe now we'll try creating something that is not meant for corporate singing. Creating something beautiful, loud, technical, or whatever, is always a good thing, so here we go, come what may! We don't have any ideals that we'll start touring or anything crazy like that. We just want to create and share what we create with others. That's my encouragement to you, go do something creative, something that allows you to express yourself. Go buy some good colored pencils or paint, pull out your woodworking tools and make something for someone for Christmas. If you play an instrument, invite some friends over who do  the same play music together. 

As we continue to struggle through these times, take in some really good art, but don't be afraid to express yourself through your own art, it doesn't have to be perfect or even close. Many of us are struggling to find peace as we continue to allow the reality of a Trump presidency to sink in. Creative outlets are essential, so go for it and see what happens! And our kids, I think the most important thing they can be learning and exploring right now is art and music. I'm so thankful that we homeschool, stressful as it may be, because we can put as much focus on creative expression as we do reading and math. 

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