Heavenly Music (collage piece with music)
Kendra writes: “I really tried to get down to the truth in my piece and then somehow show the beauty in it. Tolstoy cites, ‘For art to be art, it is necessary that its content should be something important, necessary to man, good, moral, and instructive’ . . . That was kind of the overall idea that I had. My work was all about the things that unable [sic] us or distract us from finding the real truth. It is supposed to get straight to the point and not be distracted from the little things we bicker about as far as religion goes. Veronese’s Christ in the House of Levi was the center focal point of my piece and I wanted it to point out the most important thing: ministry through our worship as Christians. Not song titles or issues of instrumental music as some would claim. . .
“A recent experience that has dramatically changed my life is traveling with a ten person a cappella singing group around the west part of the country. . . It is commonly known that many people in the church of Christ believe that the church should not use [musical] instruments because they are never mentioned in the New Testament, so therefore the group has remained a cappella . . . I grew up [in the] church of Christ, but being the daughter of a musician, I was never told that instruments were wrong in worship. I was taught by my parents that it is strictly a tradition, and a fine tradition, but it is just great to worship with instruments as well.
“The church I attended growing up was fairly liberal about this. Instruments or not, the whole issue was just sort of brushed aside as one of a matter of opinion. It is so interesting to see how people are a product of their raising. I remember the first very conservative church of Christ we [the university a cappella group] sang at. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I have ever encountered. Sometimes the group uses vocal perk, which is just a name for [a] kind of beat box sound that keeps the beat of the song, which is imperative whenever you’re singing a cappella music. Usually a guy does it, and it is imitative of drums for the most part.
“I remember the looks on audience members’ faces whenever we started that particular song that day. It was almost a kind of panicked look. It was like everyone in the room was near hell and eternal damnation because a sound imitating the drums was in the room. It’s always frustrating because the message is always lost in those places. Hardly anyone catches the message of worship, because everyone in the room is too worried [about] whether they are worshipping right. Sometimes I think we become so enslaved and obsessed about our ideas about religion that we forget the main focus. In the church of Christ I think we forget that Jesus sat and ate with tax collectors and that he probably worshipped with instruments and by some good church members’ standards, in the completely wrong way.“Later in the year, our group visited a prison and sang for about forty men in the courtyard. When we sang though, there weren’t any looks of panic, mostly just happiness. Maybe our message was completely lost to everyone in the group, but they acted like they enjoyed every song and clapped enthusiastically afterward. Some of them, to my surprise, were singing along. After that particular concert, a man came up to me and said, ‘Thank you so much, I really needed to hear that. I enjoyed it.’ Unfortunately some people don’t realize you can’t limit God and put borders on what he can do through any kind of worship. I truly believe we touched more hearts that night than any other. Those men were in prison, but their hearts weren’t that night. Never had I encountered a more welcoming audience. This brings me to my conclusion. Who is really in prison?”