does not describe me fully
it is where to start
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Music in Pentecostalism
Recently, I have surprised myself by segueing from writing about Puerto Rican cuatro music to reviewing a book about music and neurology and, next Saturday, to talking about the origins of the Pentecostal religion. In the end, I concluded that these posts share in common the unique role music plays in piercing cognitive barriers.
In my February 6 post, I will be disussing the special role that William Joseph Seymour, a son of slaves, played in sparking the international religious revival which led to Pentecostalism, which has become the world's fastest growing religion. As a preamble to that discussion, I provide the following two videos featuring the music of two Pentecostal churches. This music is important to hear in order to understand a religion which can never be completely understood in a cognitive sense. It is a religion which must be experienced, and there is no better way to experience it than through its music, always an integral part of its worship tradition. And if these videos sometimes seem like rock concerts, be aware that this style of worship preceded the earliest rock musicians.
Before I end, I want to clarify that, although I am the daughter of Pentecostal ministers, I left the religion in my teens. Despite that, when I hear this rousing Pentecostal music, I am stirred to my deepest core. In the process, I sometimes feel like the perpetual exile, destined to continue hearing the evocative music of her homeland, while knowing at the same time that she can never return. For now, listening to this music will have to satisfy my nostalgia for the environment of my childhood.
The Spanish-speaking Tabernáculo Cristiano. Trust me when I say that you do not have to understand a word of Spanish to appreciate this.
The English-speaking Atlanta West Pentecostal Church. You will notice that about five minutes into the video, there is "speaking in tongues," a distinctive feature of Pentecostal worship.
My writing frequently explores multicultural themes. Born in Puerto Rico, I moved at a young age to the U.S., where my parents became Pentecostal ministers. Early immersion in Latino and religious cultures preceded later experiences as a businesswoman, a White House Fellow, and life aboard a trawler cruising from Martha’s Vineyard to South America. These sometimes incompatible worlds have given me a respectful outlook toward differing points of view. My short stories, poems, and essays reflect my own inclusive, yet sharply defined, journey across cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. I recently published Peace on the Journey, a poetry collection which explores the theme of renewal in the face of adversity.
The defining image of this blog is a waterfall. Its inspiration comes from a scene in one of my novels in which the infant protagonist escapes her mother’s attention and wanders off to a nearby waterfall. While there, she experiences a mysterious sense of wellbeing, which she yearns to replicate for the rest of her life.
"I have made love to my writing and am now in the afterglow."
"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession... Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
About his fictional town Macondo, widely acknowledged to be inspired by his real home town of Aracataca, Colombia. “Macondo is not so much a place as it is a state of mind.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear."
"The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."
Blaise Pascal, Pensées
"There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and, because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly... to keep the channel open."