Composing when not under the influence

I read this article the other day by Katie Botkin:

https://medium.com/@katherineheline/why-the-devil-gets-all-the-good-music-dbe4335e7098

It purports to be looking at the deficiencies of Christian art, specifically music. She makes some obvious points, which tend to throw more rocks at a form of American Christianity than illuminate the matter of music with any depth.

Her main point is that Christians make poor art because they will only project a censored view of life, which lacks any authenticity with respect to the “human experience”, is cold and therefore bad art. She bases this on her own attempts to conform to this artificial and culturally-influenced standard in novel writing. She contrasts this with her brother’s song-writing which invokes more Buddhism than Christianity and is better art because it is “real”.

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The Alignment of Romanticism and Roman Catholicism

England apostatised through Romanticism. It was a suitable portal because it did not appear to be a religion. Most people did not even know the term - they just became obsessively interested in literature, art, music and architecture. Once their interest was captured, the English became very jealous over their right to enjoy the Arts. Ultimately, in 1870, they fought the clergy over the right of the people to have a concert in a cathedral rather than a sermon. The people won and there was no turning back.

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The Romantic: Someone who looks for spiritual truth in material things

Since most people are unaware of their own “Romantic” attitudes, the following definitions have been prepared to bring home the practical outworking of Romanticism in our lives today. Anyone who would like to understand the origins of Romanticism should read Tim Blanning’s rather uncritical work, The Romantic Revolution. In Music Mania I demonstrate how music became the exclusive domain of the Romantic movement.

This philosophy appears to be innocent and inoffensive but over time it perverts our perception of truth and destroys our ability to find truth outside of material things. For the Christian this engenders a change from living by faith through the Word of God, to trusting the Art of Man and therefore living by the senses.

If you had once walked in Christendom as “someone who expects to find spiritual truth in material things” you would have been deemed an idolater. After all, what does the idolater do that the Romantic does not? Either you make art or you purchase it from someone else, with the goal of gaining spiritual enlightenment outside of God’s appointed means. 

Not everyone will demonstrate every aspect here defined because people are never consistent. However, Romanticism is often stronger in women than in men, giving rise to a dislocation between the sexes that was unknown before the Enlightenment. Then the difference between the sexes was one of roles in the world - now we have communication problems based on a woman’s desire to live in a Romanticised bubble and a man’s inability to make it happen.

In broader terms, Romanticism encourages people to live selfishly and diminishes their capacity to judge other people’s needs. (The Romantic person will be moved by a television appeal for famine relief in Africa but will be unable to see the mum struggling to afford the weekly shop at the next checkout.) Therefore it has dulled our characters and left us as wraiths. We are sometimes awoken to reality by the magnitude of problems we cannot avoid (sickness, death, tragedy) and it is at such times that we realise the inadequacy of the Romanticised mind. If we cannot find a way to feel good, then who are we and what is left of our lives? Therefore Romanticism is nothing more than well-dressed Humanism, ivy climbing around the tree of our faith, to sap our hope in Christ and make us glad of the ivy’s supportive embrace. 

Feel Good Christianity


In late 17th century Scotland, a young farmer waits to meet his fiancée. She is a maid in the nearby hall. Today she is late, so the young man takes out his Bible and leans against a wall to read.

A party of soldiers crosses the bridge, leading to the farm. They are paid by the Crown to hunt down Covenanters. Right now they are searching for the two sons of this farm. Their eyes land on the young farmhand. He looks about the right age to be one of the sons. And what is that in his hand? No one but a Covenanter would read a Bible! The soldiers approach the young man and shoot him dead.

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