A Space in My Soul for Music

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Growing up in a Christian household can give a kid interesting perspectives on music, and I, for one, sorted music away into four, neatly packaged categories: worship songs, Christian music, secular music, and piano pieces. I engaged with these forms of music in totally separate ways; there was the music I worshiped to, the music I listened to, the music I couldn’t listen to, and the music I made myself. And never once did I think of these forms of music as the same thing.

However, somewhere along the way, I began to find music that defied all categories. “Jupiter” from Gustav Holst’s The Planets is one classical piece that fit none of my preset notions of music and takes up a space entirely of its own. The joy and glory contained in this composition is nothing but pleasure to listen to, yet it still moves my spirit to worship. As a symphony, it is quite beyond a question of whether it is Christian music or not—it’s just music. And though I have certainly never played this piece myself, it has the power to capture my focus and attention as much as a piece that took hours and hours of practice to learn.

In many ways, musical pieces like “Jupiter” have taught me to recognize the glory of God in new and exciting places, and I have learned to care less about what context my music is being played in or what purpose I can use such music for. When I fully engage with excellent music like “Jupiter,” it creates a space in my soul for wonder and awe.

–Emily D.

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5 Ways to Find Beauty in Media

Sometimes I take my favorite lyrics from songs and the best lines from books and movies and write them down. Sometimes I even use them as my Instagram caption. So much beauty can be found in the words and stories that different forms of media give us. Being a Christian in a secular world makes the choice of what media we consume a serious struggle. Hit singles, Oscar-nominated movies, and bestselling novels might contain profanity, sexuality, and violence. Does this mean we should avoid them entirely? Maybe. Maybe not. You have to decide.

The question isn’t necessarily should you or shouldn’t you watch a movie (or put that one song on your playlist). However you should be seeking the beauty in media. Even in darkness, there is always a glimpse of light (John 1:5). So the next time you’re cranking up the radio or binge watching Netflix, keep these questions in mind.

1. Is it optimistic?

Are you listening to too many breakup songs or going overboard with the horror flicks? While these things aren’t inherently terrible, they can be a downer, causing stress or anxiety. Create a positive playlist to get pumped up, and be sure to watch some comedies now and then. Media that is sad and serious can make an impact, but its ability to make us feel good about life is empowering.

2. What is love’s role?

More importantly, does love play a role at all? How do the story’s characters interact? If the lyrics of a song are hateful, violent, or inappropriate, that isn’t beautiful. If love isn’t evident, the story may not be worth your time.

3. Is there character development?

One of the most beautiful parts of a story is watching the main character(s) grow. Look for the stories and music that represent real people who learn a lesson.

4. Is there a happy ending?

I love happy endings. Who doesn’t? The good guys defeat the bad guys. The boy gets the girl. Those types of stories are important because everyone desires a satisfying resolution. Happy endings lift us up, reminding us that a rainbow always follows a storm.

-Ruthie Flaa

Where is God in secular media?

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Photo Credit: Nikki Watson

The movie ended and the credits rolled and I was left sitting in the theater with a conflicting sense of pleasure. “Wow, that was an incredibly good movie,” I thought to myself. Yet, at the same time I felt conflicted because what does the word “good” really mean? Was it good morally? Well, no, not completely. But it was good. The casting, plot development, and creative filming were spot on. It was beautiful.

As a Christian, being constantly bombarded with a plethora of media choices can be very difficult. I, along with five other college students created Beautiful Media to help other Christians like us see media through a new lens. Christians are called to live in the world, but not of the world. So, how do we interact with the world’s media and truly enjoy it even when it is all tainted by sin?

But we are all tainted by sin! And even so, we can still see beauty all around us. There is beauty in the media that we interact with everyday. A lot of times I find myself focusing on all the bad in media that Christians should avoid. This blog is designed to specifically help us refocus our sight on the good in media, not the bad. To see the beauty that is in the movies, books, television, and music we engage with. We cannot separate ourselves from this world – God created it! He gave talent to Hollywood actors and persistence to aspiring pop musicians. Join us as we break down the Christian stigma that all secular media is a threat and illuminate the incredible beauty that lies all around us.

– Megan W