Monday, April 14, 2014

A lot of fuss. Over what?

One of our nieces who lives in Minneapolis is in a semi-amateur musical group. Last night, they performed a program entitled "Lamb of God", and we were able to tap into a live stream of the performance. It was about an hour and a half long and had a format similar to Handel's Messiah -- a telling of the story of Jesus, complete with an orchestra, choir, soloists and narrators.

As I was watching, the thought occurred to me: what a complex and intricate endeavor, requiring hours, weeks, and months of preparation, dedication, and coordination. Each of the performers had to commit to learning their part and coming together for organized rehearsal. And what about the people who were in charge of the logistics? There must have been someone who came up with the idea of putting on the performance, and there were probably multiple people involved with securing the location, adapting the venue to accommodate the performance, communicating to the public in various ways to draw an audience, and probably many other aspects of which I'm not aware.

But perhaps most interesting to me at the moment was that this was a concert free of charge. There was absolutely no monetary or substantive gain involved in the delivery of this art. No one was paid, nobody got a free meal or housing, it was all voluntary. These people put together this high quality event for no apparent benefit to themselves. I imagine that if you asked each one of them why they did it, you'd get answers ranging from "Because I love music" to "I want to express my belief in and love for Jesus Christ."

Now let me get to the point.

To me, this is remarkable. Especially put into the context of the view that human kind is simply another one of the anomalies on this planet and universe that evolved from a random event billions of years ago. What survival-based purpose would any of the above serve? Perhaps it's simply a side effect of the larger cerebral cortex? But the amount of effort put into these kinds of endeavors is enormous. And human kind has been doing this kind of thing for millennia. Think of the architecture and massive sculptures of Egypt, the deep and symbolic theatrical art of ancient Greece, etc. There is something common and significant that drives the human race to obsess over the unknown and unseen that stirs the imagination and seems to feed the soul. It's a need, a yearning that defines us.

There is something beyond our need to eat, find shelter, and survive that drives us. There is something inside us, beyond the basic senses that motivates us to create, worship, and to find purpose. The fact that I even considered any of the above is fascinating to me. We are so self aware, and we spend so much time in the conceptual that it seems illogical to me that our existence is defined by our ability to survive. If that were the case, power-hungry warmongers would have taken control of and weeded out our race long ago. But still to this day our species revels in the production of art. In particular, we celebrate what we consider to be "good" or virtuous -- that which does not extrinsically benefit. We treasure that which feeds the spirit in spite of the body.

There is something more to all this.

1 comment:

Jonny said...

Excellent observation, Adam. You mention a few yearnings of the soul... to worship and to create are both powerful and, one may say, separate yearnings. But you've helped me realize that they are very much related: When you create, you are worshiping (something), and when you worship, you do so by creating (e.g. song, art, pyramids).

As humans we are artists, and we express love by giving our creations. Children do it from a very young age. Adam, thank you for sharing your thought-provoking, well, thoughts.