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3: So a piano man enters a church...

If you've read posts 1 and 2, you know I've shared the context of growing up as Gen Z, parts of my career, and academia. I'm going down a different road today - music and religion, in no particular order.

My faith has been a source of strength since being arrested, losing my business, and serving a sentence of 30 days in prison. There are times when I felt like walking off a ledge, so to speak. However, me and my wife have sought guidance from God and grace from Jesus. We've prayed some mighty prayers for ourselves, and all who are persecuted. I've prayed for my ex-employees, some of whom have yet to speak to me for 18 months. My pastor has been a mountain of support.

In addition, while in prison, I continued my walk through the bible, and counseled some young men in my time there. I'll get to that at a later time.

As a young child, I spent Sunday mornings listening to my dad direct the church choir at a local Lutheran church. I grew up hearing the great hymns sung by an enthusiastic congregation. I took an interest in music, and started taking piano lessons around the age of 8. After my dad ended his choir directing days, we attended a Presbyterian church in town. My siblings and I sang in the numerous choirs throughout our youth.

In between my Mozart and Bach, I would spend time learning to play Billy Joel tunes, which, as you might imagine, is a lot more popular at a high school party. I also developed an interest in writing and composing. I had a mathematical instinct about things, and musical theory certainly fit the bill. With a friend, I composed and directed a short musical in high school.

I long considered a career in music, and after my first year of college, I changed my major and got into the Indiana University School of Music. I studied composition, arranging, orchestration, theatre, and choral music. However, this was all short-lived. I was feeling the pressure of having to make a living doing all of this, and unless I wanted to teach, which I did not, the odds were against me. After one year, I decided to enjoy music as a hobby, and get a career doing something else.

I met my wife in college. She comes from a long line of Lutherans (LCMS), back to the "singing in German" days. Remaining Presbyterian was not an option. As a young married couple, we joined an LCMS congregation. They had a contemporary worship service, which we attended. There was a plea for a keyboard player to lead the band. I stepped up. I spent several years in that church and in that band, with some fantastic musicians. They were also great spiritual leaders for me, and also fantastic people. During those years, I read the bible from beginning to end, absorbed as much as I could, and began writing and arranging again. My faith, which had always been with me, became much more out front in my life.

For various reasons we switched churches and began attending one across town. I became the worship leader some time later, leading the congregation with songs from behind the piano, with the band at my side. This brought me joy and fulfillment. Also, my young daughters were there, and would sit on the piano bench with me during the final song. As they grew and developed musical skills, I would engage them to play during the services.

During this time, I had written a Christmas musical for the Lutheran school, composed several worship songs for the congregation, and felt fulfilled. I began to think about a musical interpretation of Good Friday. So, in early 2007, I composed and orchestrated "Chosen: The Passion Meditation" (here's a two minute mashup if you are interested). It has a "Jesus Christ Superstar" feel to it. For me, it was a chance to prove to myself that I could create something at a professional level without having a career in music. There are times in life when one can feel as though they are doing what the Lord intended. This was that time for me. It was performed on Good Friday in 2007, and then over several evenings in 2008 around Good Friday.

Several years later, I was elected to serve on the church's Governing Board. I eventually was elected to be Chairperson of the Board. During this time, I (along with my mother and my family) was fortunate to be able to visit a church and Lutheran school in a South African township that my church had started 25 years previous. We had a wonderful 3 1/2 hour worship service including singing, dancing, hugging, and celebrating. I've been back once to build a micro-financing loan entity in the township.

I am still active in my church, and am thankful for the support of so many good-hearted Christians who have given us a sense of peace in the midst of the storm.

I attended several rallies in the months prior to January 6. I'm not talking about Trump speeches, but rallies, where supporters would gather. The media has so completely (and purposely) mischaracterized these supporters. I've explained to some that these rallies are like a mix between a Farmer's Market and a church picnic. There's a lot of joy and positive energy. We've seen ad-hoc appearances of a street choir singing religious songs. Others will gather in prayer. There are many sub-groups of supporters with signs and banners ("Latinos for Trump", "Democrats for Trump", immigrants, different religious and ethnic groups). There are many good people of faith who came together at these events. I felt at home with good people of faith.

Now, before I get flack for over-generalizing, let me state that there are also some groups that seem out of place. They will chant something odd that seems meaningful to them, but no one else. There are also non-religious rallygoers of course. There are also perhaps some mischief-makers. However, that is by no means a significant number.

Please pray for and support those Jan 6 protesters who are being kept in horrible conditions in DC, while the DOJ drags out these cases, adds charges, and destroys the lives of these families.


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