These kinds of things happen in big cities. Grants Pass is not a big city, so the soloists they bring in -- I think most of them are music students at the local community college, which they rotate up to a dozen singers through the various solo parts -- are not the highest quality, better singers than me, but with a couple exceptions, not by much. One older bass guy comes back every year (the three years I have done it here) is quite good, and yesterday a soprano had a nice high A that she was very proud of: she added a couple more into her presentation that were not in the score, although I suppose Handel himself would have altered the score to let her do that (he did those kinds of things, the EmCee said in explaining why they used the Schirmer edition, which is why there are so many different editions). In classical music concerts, male musicians all wear black suits or tuxedos, and women in the orchestra all wear long black dresses (or perhaps pantsuits, I didn't take time to notice this year); women singer soloists generally are allowed muted colors in their long dresses, but this one soprano wore a party dress over black tights. Maybe she didn't have a gown. I think the dress code is so that the audience can focus on the music, not the appearance. Whatever.
Music is one of those things people do for fun, like sports. A few people are good enough to get paid for it, and the rest of us are not, we only do it because we like the challenge -- or maybe like one of the people putting on the event yesterday said, "I figure if I got the last four notes right, that's good enough," we only like to think we are doing what sounds good. She ran around during the performance snapping pictures on her phone, and stood near me during one of the choruses. She mostly sang the alto part, but sometimes slipped into the tenor part, and sometimes didn't sing at all. Maybe she got the last four notes, maybe not, I was too busy trying to get my own notes right.
One of the directors where I did it in California, in his little speech introducing the music at the beginning of the community chorus rehearsals -- I'm not a very good singer, so I needed the rehearsals back then (probably still do, but I only had time for a couple runs through each of the last couple years, plus a little piano time on two of the harder numbers) -- anyway, he said Bach wrote the world's greatest music, but Handel wrote great music to great words, all Scripture. It's true! Curiously, unlike what you hear in every Evangelical church in the USA, the word "love" does not appear in the whole oratorio. God's message to us is about Jesus the Messiah, not "love."
The preacher at church yesterday morning has drunk the Kool-Aid, but he also reads his Bible. His sermon title was "How to Say I Love You Without Using Words," and he pointed out that we look in vain to find in the Bible where Jesus said "I love you," because the words are not there. It's true! It's not about love. But the preachers cannot give up their drug of choice.
The problem is that "love" in modern English means something very different from what the Greek word usually translated by it meant in the first century. I was going to say "American English," but I recently saw an obscure British movie (with a title something about weather for a wedding), which made no sense at all, but in the "Featurette" included in the DVD I got from the library, the various actors and other people involved in making the movie explained what they thought the story was about, basically a young woman getting married to someone other than the guy she loved, but in the long run it was the right choice. They never actually said so, but this explanation makes no sense unless you understand that "love" in modern English is a selfish thing, gratifying our own short-lived passions, whereas marriage is something two people work together at for the long run. God is not into gratifying our passions -- nor really His own -- God is into Doing The Right Thing, first for us, and then He wants us to Do The Right Thing to each other and back to God. How you feel about it is irrelevant. It probably helps if you enjoy Doing The Right Thing, because that makes it easier, but the essence of the Golden Rule (Jesus called it The Second Great Commandment) is that we want other people to Do The Right Thing to us even when it isn't "fun," so that's what we need to do to them. And if we do as Jesus commanded us, then (and only then, nevermind what the preachers tell you, it's conditional) God will love us. Jesus said so. But that's "love" in the sense of Doing The Right Thing, which in this case means our prayers get answered and we get to go to Heaven when it's over.
Not only is it unBiblical when we preach "God loves you unconditionally" from the pulpits, we also do the people a disservice. Like the Roman Church which so annoyed Martin Luther that he started the Protestant Reformation to cure it, this message encourages people to continue in sin, because "God forgives all sins, past, present and future," both in 1517 in Wittenberg by the payment of monetary indulgences, and now today for free, no repentance needed now or ever. I don't think so, and I suspect a careful reading of the Bible will show that God doesn't either. Furthermore, thinking people will see such a message as the fraud that it is, and stay away. Increasingly in our lifetime, they do that. It's the preachers' fault, and they will be held accountable for their fraud. God said so [Exek.3:18].
Like I said, this preacher reads his Bible, and his sermon was about
ways to Do The Right Thing to each other. He called it "love" but it isn't,
not in the sense that we Americans and English-speaking people everywhere
understand the word. That's too bad. Every preacher in every Protestant
denomination is taught to drink the Kool-Aid. It's not about love. It's
about Jesus, and how he erased our karma so that we can Do The Right
Thing. But Doing The Right Thing is The Right Thing. At least
he got that part right.
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