Monday, March 19, 2012

Have you eva been played, playa?

Today, we get to look at one of the most tragic love stories in the Bible.  We get to talk about love today…that’s right, the gushy stuff…sort of.  In preparation for this I spent a lot of time researching.  You see, I have not been in love, and so a lot of today’s lesson was over my head.  I actually started reading this scripture as a story on lust and not love.  I saw Samson as wanting Delilah for her body, because he clearly did not trust her with the important things.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s just read it.    

1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.” 
 3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
 4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels[a] of silver.”
 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”
 7 Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
 8 Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. 9 With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
 10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”
 11 He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
 13 Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”
   He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric 14 and[b] tightened it with the pin.
   Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
 15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
 17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him.[c] And his strength left him.
 20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
   He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.
 21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Most lessons on this are focused on Samson, how he was ensnared and how he was tricked.  Very few focus on Delilah because we know very little about her.  We know she is a self-made woman because she lives by herself, most believe she owned her own home, but we don’t know how she made her money, was she a widow or was she a great sales person?  We know she lived in the valley between the Philistines and the Israelites, but we don’t know which nationality she was.  We actually know almost nothing about her, which makes teaching on her difficult. 

But, we do know one important thing…Samson was in love with her.  Verse 4 reads, “Sometime later he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Serek whose name was Delilah.”  There is that crazy to define word.  A word I struggle with enough in my daily relationships I thought we would hear from some people who have had a better understanding than me on this one.  Check out this video.  

Wow, that sounds like something to be treasured.  In fact, Proverbs 31:11 says, “The love of a man is to be treasured.  The heart of her husband trusts in her.”  Hear that ladies, we are to treasure the love of a man.  Now, I know you hear this and think, but I am not married it doesn’t apply to me, but it matters more.  The love of a man, whether it is brotherly, friendly, or something more, is to be treasured, and unfortunately, we ladies often become Delilahs. 

Delilah knew Samson was in love with her, and yet she betrays him anyway.  No one knows why she took the money, in verse 5 and 6, but she did.  Perhaps her home was going into foreclosure and she needed to make a payment, perhaps, her car needed a new transmission, perhaps she was about to go bankrupt…we don’t know, but I do know that she was a smart woman, so there would have been a purpose behind the money.  Not that that justifies what she did.

We read that she asks Samson about his strength and how to subdue him four different times.  We know the two probably lived together, something that went against the vow Samson took, but we know they lived together.  I can imagine the first time she asked she probably put on something cute, cuddled up with him on the couch to watch a movie and at just the right time between the end of the movie and the credits rolling asked him in verse 6, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”

When she tells the Philistines and it does not work, I can imagine her frustration at herself.  This probably hit her pride pretty hard, after all she was probably used to getting whatever she wanted and Samson lied to her.   But a determined woman, she did not give up.   I imagine the second time they probably were laying down to bed.  She probably had a book out and he was just crawling in to tell her how much she loved him, and she turns away.  When he asked what was wrong, she stated in verse 10 “You made me the fool” with big pouty lips and crossed arms. 

At this point, you would think Samson would take a hint, but he lies to her again.  When the Philistines fail to succeed, now her pride is broken.  She gets angry.  She tries to shift the blame as in verse 13 “You have been making a fool of me and lying to me.”  He caves again, because he loves her and doesn’t want to see her upset.  But her still lies to her, as if he knows he should run. 

But, the fourth and final time, she used the ultimate card – the love card.  I imagine her pulling out all the stops and then after a quite date he leans in close and whispers to her how much he loves her.  At this, Delilah does the unthinkable, she says in verse 15 “How can you say I love you when won’t confined in me?  This is third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.”  And then she nagged him.  I am sorry fellas, but at this point, Samson is just and idiot!
Ouch.  When I started researching this, I asked a bunch of guys if they had ever experienced this.  Here are a couple answers.  Check out this video.  

I also had a quite a big response on how girls will dress a certain way, flirt at just the right time, or build a guy up just to get what she wants.  When we wear revealing clothes, it is not because we want to be and feel pretty it is because we want attention.  We do not think about what that attire does to our brothers and sisters.  We do this so well they have made movies, TV shows, and books that show example after example of this.  Mean Girls with Rachel McAdams and Lindsey Lohan is example after example of how dress, dance, and flirting to get what you want break and destroy the hearts of men, Pretty Little Liars, shows how when you manipulate a guy to get the knowledge they have by playing on their feelings you will get what you want and destroy them in the process, The Hunger Games shows how a man’s love is to be treasured and how easy it is to play on that in the wrong way.  Katniss loses not only a friend in the process, but the trust of an ally.  Ryan said it best when he said, guys are visual.  Ladies, listen.  As 1 Corinthians 8:9 says, “Careful, however, the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak,” and Romans 14:13 states, “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacles in your brother’s way.” We know they are visual creatures who need to be encouraged and uplifted…so let’ stop being Delilahs and start being sisters in Christ. 

We are to treasure the love of a man, so why don’t we?  I think some of the gentlemen hit on it.  Girls, we have a hard time understanding our worth.  We struggle to know that our worth does not come from the eyes of man, but the eyes of God.  So, fellas, don’t think you are off the hook.  Guys, I hope you hear this and learn to do something really difficult.  Proverbs 4:23 states, “above all else guard you heart for it is the wellspring of life.”  I hope you listen to the advice of those guys you heard today and treasure what love is, but more importantly, set your sights on God so the right girl comes into your life.  If you challenge us to be better than we are, we usually respond to that.  My sisterly advice for you young men would be this:  It is really easy for a guy to say a girl is beautiful when she is all dolled up for a dance, or dressed in a low cut top or flirting with you, it is a lot harder to tell it to her when she is in sweats and a tee shirt, or just came out of practice, or just had a really emotional day.  Tell her she is beautiful when she feels the ugliest and she will trust you.  Open the door for her as you get in the car or enter a building, not because she is the one you will marry, but because she is someone you are called to love.  If guys treated a girl like a lady, they will be more apt to act like one.  Ladies, don’t take this a way to manipulate and coerce a guy to do what you want, use it as a way to honor your brothers and when the right guy comes along it won’t be about your body and sex, it will be about your character…which is what you really want anyway. 

 Special thanks to all my interviewees for being so willing to talk about this and to my tech team...this could not have happened without you.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

God is My Vending Machine…Or Lesson’s In Forgiveness

God is My Vending Machine…Or Lesson’s In Forgiveness

Judges 10:1-11:1-29

“When I saw God he was a vending machine, pop in a coin – he makes a scene.  Push the right button and what do you got?  Instant first aide right on the spot.”  Sometimes I think we see God like this; a sort of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back.”  We think if we attend church, go to youth group, volunteer when needed God is obligated to fulfill our requests.  How small we must think God really is that the creator would be at our beckon call, sort of like a vending machine.

Ever get frustrated with a vending machine?  You put your $1.50 in  for that crunchy Kit Kat bar and one of the following happens:
1.      you push the button and that Kit Kat bar fails to drop.  “Give me a break!”
2.      You are capable of shaking down the Kit Kat and then the deposit door fails to open wide enough to fit your hand through to grab that chocolaty goodness. 

Now you are angry, you might cruse, maybe even punch or kick the machine…maybe some mixture. You think “I put in the required amount!  That machine just ate my money!”  You feel jipped.  That is sort of what we do with God, isn’t it.  We feel like if we do all that good little Christians do God is obligated to forgive our many sins.  We think because God has said he will forgive all things, it doesn’t matter what we so after our request.  But then, is that really an apology?

Most people believe an apology is simply asking, stating the words, and according to Webster they would be right. But according to Judges, something particularly important is missing in an apology that is only words.  Turn please to Judges 10.  The Israelites have just been attacked…again.  But this time, BOTH the Ammonites and Philistines are attacking on two different sides.  The Israelites had fallen back into worshipping other gods – SEVEN to exact: the Baals, Ashoreths, and gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, Ammonites, and the Philistines.   If these names sound familiar, they are!  The Israelites have been attacked by these people before.  So, back in throngs of war, they keep to their pattern and cry out to God.  Turn to Verse 10:

“Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, ‘We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.’”  (Sounds like an apology, right?  But look at God’s response:)

“The Lord replied, ‘When the Egyptians, the Amonites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidoneans, the Amelikites, and the Moanites (sound familiar?) oppressed you, and you cried out to me for help, did I not save you from their hand?  But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you.  Go and cry out the gods you have chosen.  Let them save you when you are in trouble!”

Ouch!  What happened to that grace we are always hearing about?  Did God wake up on the wrong side of the bed that morning?  Maybe he had a late night out with friends and hadn’t had his morning coffee?  Well, if we look we see something missing from the Israelites apology. First, they are not completely honest with God.  They only admit to worshipping one god, the Baals – not the other six!  Notice in God’s response he mentions all the other gods the Israelites are worshipping.  He is telling them He knows the truth, and He knows their heart.  They were not truly apologetic. 

When I was in high school I dated this boy for four years.  We broke up my senior year for about six months, in the spring, when the most coveted date night dance in high school…Prom happens.  Clearly he wasn’t going to ask me, but guess who he asked instead…my kid sister to my senior Prom;  Now, I already had a decide to go with a friend of mine, who was dating someone else.  I remember being so angry at my sister for saying yes.  Strangely, I was not so much mad at Josh for asking as I was at Kim for accepting.  When I confronter her about it, she said, she didn’t care.  Josh and I were not actually dating.  So, they went together.  About two weeks later, Kim came up to me and apologized for doing something she knew visibly upset me.  But I knew she didn’t mean it.  You see she posted the pictures all over her room after wards.  Her actions told me she really didn’t care that she hurt me.  She kept te pictures up for another year and half (even after Josh and I got back together and started talking marriage).  I knew Kim wasn’t being genuine.

Turn with me to Titus 1:15. 

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.  In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.”  Like Kim, she claimed to know me (after all I am her sister), but her actions denied that.  They were a slap in the face, not a sincere apology.  Just like I knew Kim wasn’t being honest, God knows our hearts and when we are genuinely sorry for something.

In Psalms 44: 20 we are told:

“If we have forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of our hearts?”

Sound like what happened with the Israelites?  Did they turn away?  Yes.  Did He call them out on it?  Yes!

It seems to me God has a limit of sorts to what he will stand.  God cannot stand a fake heart.  He will stand for nothing but our complete heart.  He said no to the Israelites, not because He didn’t love them, because He did, but because they were not genuine, honest, and loving in their actions.  They were lukewarm.

BUT, and this is awesome, there is hope!  If we continue in Judges we see God’s ultimate grace.  In verse 15 we read:

“But the Israelites said to the Lord, ‘We have sinned.  Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.’ Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord.  And he could bear their misery no more.” 

God wanted to be with us so much, when He saw how genuinely apologetic the Israelites were, He was MOVED!  Some of your translations say he was GRIEVED or COULD BE IMPATIENT NO LONGER.  That is grace.  The Israelites did not deserve to be forgiven, after all they had repeated this cycle of violence nine times in the book of Judges alone.  We are just like the Israelites; we don’t deserve forgiveness but we are granted it anyway. 

Before graduation, Josh and I were pretty much back together.  The day after graduation Josh was suppose to go to a party with me.  Instead he called and said his mom was keeping in the house because he was leaving for the army in a month.  I decided to go to the movies with my parents instead.  When I got there, you can imagine my surprise to find him standing in line locking lips with an acquaintance of mine.  He went to the same movie and I watched two hours of him snuggling with her.  You can imagine how angry I was.  Much like God was forsaken for other gods I was forsaken for another girl.  I broke up with him again.  He lied to me and he cheated on me in my head.  He tried apologizing, but I knew he didn’t really mean it.  That is until about two months later. 

But, two months later, after apology after apology he wrote me this letter.  I still have it.  He apologized in a way that I knew he was genuine.  He wasn’t do it to save face or get me back, he was really upset about the hurt he had caused me.  We reconciled, got back together, I broke up with him awhile later and he ended up marrying the girl he dumped freshman year to get with me.  The three of us are still good friends to this day.  I was able to forgive him because he was genuinely apologetic.  He didn’t deserve it, he didn’t deserve to be forgiven by either myself of Veronica.  But that is grace.  That is what God does for us. 

Grace is not a vending machine!  Thank God!  When you put in your sin you are not given judgment, anger and oppression.  Instead we are given hope, grace, and love.  Perhaps, God really is bigger than what we conceptualize.  As you go out this week, I encourage you to see where you might be treating God like a vending machine and instead, thank God for NOT acting like one.  Really think about when you pray or come to worship if your heart is really in it.  Are you going through the motions?  Do you really mean what you are saying?   

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When I Saw God...

I have been working on a teaching and began to wonder how people see God differently.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and did performances with my family.  We were often referred to as the Von Blacks.  Well, one show each of us had a different line about how people see God.  I thought I would inquire how you all see him and why?  Then, see if you found your evidence in life or in the Bible.  Just some thoughts.  The poem we did is below for ideas: 

When I saw god he had a long white beard and he brought me gifts at the end of the year, but the big one comes in the by and by from the Santa Claus up in the sky

When I saw god he was vending machine, you drop in a coin and he makes the scene. Push the right button and what have you got? Instant first aid right on the spot

When I saw god he was in a museum kept under glass where I could go see him. It's such a comfort to see him there he's near to me and not off somewhere

When I saw god he was a silver lining although that does seem quite confining. Its such a comfort to see him there he's near to me and not off somewhere

God is love, god is light God is faithful day and night he is eternal, he never changes though the seas rise up to cover mountain ranges.

Now that we’ve discussed our thoughts, His size, His shape, and what we’ve been taught, let’s take a pause and take a look and see what it says in the old, old, book.  

Let’s hear your thoughts. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

My first short story in French...really

Une l’histoire de l’amoure rare
Par Andria Black

Part 1 : Le Commence

C’est une grand ville avec un bon nombre des lampes fonctionnant le long de la rue, comme une barrière de piquets blancs qui allument les rues avec une lumière blanche et un éclairage créant une beauté seulement trouvée dans les histoires, ou le pittoresque est cache des yeux.  La nuit envahissante, sombre, couvre la ville avec ses ténèbres de peur et de grand désir qui se dépliante rue, comme s’elles suivaient le spectateur avec un seul but de le chasser à l’improviste, intensifiant ainsi l’impression troublante qu’il n’es pas solitaires résonnant sur les mures des petits magasins caches derrière la clôture de piques de grève de lumière, envoyant un signal au ses ennemie qu’il s’est fais dans la ville de mensonges, chaque pas devient un mémento pour ces grandes rues qui bruissaient d’activité ce matin même mais étaient silencieuses pour la nuit.   

À gauche, les petites magasins fonte floc ensemble, chaque apparence d’être plat comme un ballon dégonflé, mais a un coup d’œil plus proche contourne la surface rugueuse des mure et des toits pointus qui heurtent la terre  pour permettre à la chute de neige d’avoir l’air de ressembler aux petites collines roulantes que l’homme a fait dans les magasins.  Même dans les ténèbres il est évident que chaque magasin d’une couleur différente de l’arc-en-ciel brillante, qui, dans des circonstances normales, donnerait une atmosphère gai à la ville, couvrirait les mensonges des étrangers mais ce soir-la elle ajoutait seulement au malaise caché dans les coins sombres.  Devant chaque magasin se trouve une cour d’herbe ouverte et carrée avec des fleurs aux couleurs du magasin qui accueille chaleureusement les nouveaux acheteurs au milieu la hauteur de la journée, alors, que le soir elles deviennent des mémentos grotesques de tout le bien qui pourrait être perdu a l’obscurités pour toujours. 

À droit, une église se tient, grande comme une montagne et aussi fermée que la boite de Pandore, avec un clocher qui sonne chaque heure longe et envahissant, dont les carillons mélodieux, son un mémento au temps limite qui reste pour le trouver « l’Un » (quoique ce soit supposé signifier) et conquérir Le Sombre, le Père des Mensonges.  Les gargouilles aux visages riants sure le toit a cote des aiguillées pointues sont une peinture étrange debout a la scène de Disney de l’autre cote, encore c’est l’église qui semble correspondre le mieux pour fournir un sanctuaire étrange dans ses ténèbres.  L’architecture très ornée et détaillée est d’un bronzage ennuyeux et marron avec des ténèbres sombres et mystérieuses créés comme d’autres sont la perdu chaque fois qu’il change de points de vue et de tours lui rappelant ainsi qu’il simplement insignifiant et indigne mais aussi capable de la tache devant avant lui. 

Part 2 : La Parcelle de Terrain S’épaissit

Comme Zachary marchait dans les rues sombres, il s’est rappelé un temps il n’y a pas longtemps où il était juste un garçon de ferme qui habitait dans une petite ville oubliée, où le Festival annuel des Moissons était aussi aventureux que les plus passionnants contes folkloriques ; où les filles dansaient pendant que les garçon luttaient à l’épée.  Il avait travaillé à la ferme sa vie entière, il était grand, musclé, bien bâti ; ses chevreaux blondes et ses yeux bleus, rares dans son petit village, le faisaient plus beau que les autres garçons, bien qu’il ait été timide autour des filles.  Comme il a réfléchi à ce qui semblait maintenant il y a une vie, il s’est rappelé Alexia, sa fiancée et la fille la plus belle dans le village ; elle avait des chevreaux longs, n’ondules et les yeux bleus les plus intense qui pouvaient hurler, pouvaient pleurer, et pouvaient encourager tout avec seulement un regard. 

Les six derrières mois Zachary avait été pris par une quête de proportions énormes, pour trouver une personne sur la Terre avec le cerveau, l’agilité, et la force pour battée le Père de Mensonges ; mais cette quête l’avait le sépare de son amour, de sa famille, et de sa ferme.  Aujourd’hui, il voyageait de ville en ville, chantant parfois pour la pension, les autres fois faisaient des travaux sur les fermes ou racontant les histoires de vieux, et courant après ce qu’on peut seulement décrire comme un demi ogre et demi géant.  Il donnerait n’importe de quoi pour encore tenir Alexia dans se bras.  Son père lui moquaient, il était à la tête de conseil municipal, et homme aventureux, Zachary a souhaite qu’il n’avait jamais trébuchée sur le Livres des Vieux, il a souhaité que sa curiosité ne le pousse pas à le prendre au conseil et à la porter volontaire pour l’aventure…curiosité lui avait toujours attiré une foule d’ennuis. 

Pendant ses contres années à l’école, chez Zachary s’était réveille un désir de voir au-delà de son petit village, d’essayer des histoires et de devenue un héros dont les histories son écrites, il a même pouvez son désir une fois où il a joué une plaisanterie cruelle sur le maire de la ville (le père d’Alexia) en faisant semblant qu’elle avait été enlevée et qu’il aérait secoure ; ceci était quant il a su qu’il l’aimait.  Ce tour a montré à Zachary qu’Alexia n’était pas juste belle mais intelligent aussi ; qu’elle comprenait et qu’elle compatissait quant elle est allée réconforter son père et tout s’est bien terminé a réglée juste.  Zachary est parti du village avec la pensée qu’Alexia ne devait pas faire partie d’une telle aventure dangereuse, cependant elle l’avait suivi et il se demandait ce soir si elle était vraiment celle il chérait, celle quo battrait L’Etre de Ténèbres et unirait le monde pour l’homme de nouveaux.

Part 3 : Espoir Perdu

Les pensées de Zachary ont été soudainement interrompues par un dièse perçant, un cri qui a résonne dans toutes les rue malfamées sombres ; il s’est alors tourne vers ce cri juste à temps pour voir l’amour de sa vie balayée par ces monstres affreux qui avaient été un inconvénient réalité depuis cette nuit terrible dans le village.  Il a couru après elle, dessinant son épée avec la force de cent mille hommes, un cri de guerre, profond et fort, a jailli de ses lèvres avec une intensité qui l’a étonne lui-même ; tout ce à quoi Zachary pouvait penser était ce qui lui arriverait s’il perdait Alexia.  Il est venu sur les monstres juste pendant qu’Alexia était remise au Magicien, une bande de bandits et de monstres ont chargé  sur lui ; il avait été attiré dans un guet-apens, et avec chaque mouvement brusque de son corps et chaque plongeon de son épée il a lentement perdu l’espoir.

« Combattez pour moi, mon amour, et sachez que si vous réussissez non seulement mon cœur sera à vous, mais nous nous marierons et cous aurez tout, mon esprit et mon corps, parce que sans vous je ne suis rien, » les pleurs d’Alexia encourageaient Zachary, lui donnant la force de continuer à combattre et à détruire son ennemi.  Comme elle l’a encouragée et que ses ennemis ont vu le changement de son combat, ils ont pris Alexia, et, par la magie ou autre chose, ils l’ont soulevée en n’air, une lueur verdâtre l’a encerclée et elle a été saisi au coup d’air.  Zachary a craint pour sa vie et a combattu à la foncée, il a émis un rire de la raillerie, dur et sombre, mais ses yeux étaient en contact constant avec Alexia. Ceci avait lieu à ce moment où Zachary a trouve une faiblesse à l’obscurité de sa puissance, il a dû casser le contact des yeux pour que le charme arrête de l’affecter. 

Ce qu’il pouvait faire, il ne le savait pas, la vie entière et les vies du monde étaient en jet, tout ce qu’il avait c’était son épée faible et un cœur plein d’amour pour Alexia contre ce magicien aux proportions mauvaises.  L’esprit de Zachary s’est emballé avec les possibilités inutiles.  Inopinément, la lueur verte qui a entouré Alexia a commencé à faire une chose étrange (elle attrapé Zachary et le magicien par surprise), la lumière s’est changée en or miroitant, alors Alexia l’a libérée des mains de sa gorge et a lentement commencé à tourner dans le ciel.  Zachary ne savait pas si c’état une bonne ou mauvaise chose, il avait espère casser le contact des yeux fermés à clef sur Alexia ; abruptement la lumière a commencé à tirer hors d’elle les monstres et les bandits déstructure, mais rien n’a semble nuire le foncé.

Des cris perçants, aigues, se sont ajoutés au chaos de la bataille, le sang a suinté autour de lui, dégageant une odeur putride, faisant vomir Zachary ; la lumière entrouvrent Alexia était si lumineux qu’il était presque heureux qu’il a dû vomir.  Autrement il était sûr qu’il deviendrait aveugle.  Aussi soudainement qu’il a commencé, a le léger aveuglement cesse et Alexia a dérive lentement vos la terre où elle s’est effondrée dans un tas ; oubliant sa maladie, Zachary a jailli à ses pieds et a marché pour l’attraper.  La berçant dans ses bras, il pouvait juger à quel point elle était faible ; il ne savait pas ce qui lui était arrive, mais il était sûr que le magicien l’avait causé, pourtant quand il a regardé autour pour le défier avait disparu ; Zachary a juré qu’il détruirait le mal comme vengeance pour ce qu’il avait fait à Alexia, même si c’était la dernière chose qu’il ferait jamais.

Part 4 : Espoir René

Zachary a examiné la terre autour de lui, prenant dans chaque détail la manière dont les lumières ont jeté les ombres foncées sur la scène triste où une odeur lui rappellerait pour toujours une obscurité qui ne quitterait jamais les profondeurs de son âme parce que le magicien avait fait plus de mal qu’Alexia, il avait détruit une tache autrefois pure dans le cœur de Zachary.  Zachary a étendu Alexia, mettant sa tète sur une pièce rapportée d’herbe molle et lui donnait son sanglant manteau comme oreiller ; il a brandi son épée, et a crie « je vous détruirai, ou donnerez ma vie en essayant ! » et quelque part du vent a soufflé  une brise  qui a semblé rire de lui.  « Vous ne pouvez pas réussir tout seul, cous comprenez cela, pas vous » une voix douce a appelé du lit de décalage de marque à ses pieds ; « je dois le combattre, c’est mon destin ; Je serai toujours entrelacé avec lui jusqu'à ce que l’un de nous soit détruit. »

« Tu es juste une fille d’un petit village, pourtant tu avec créé d’une façon ou d’une autre le carnage autour de nous sans tirer une épée, mais vous êtes aussi faible que si vous aviez combattu chacun de ces monstres…comment cela peut-il être ? » Un précaire sourire a traversé le visage d’Alexia qui a humilié Zachary et l’a effrayé d’un seul trait, il lui a semblé comme si elle l’avait connu mieux que lui-même, qu’elle pouvait voir profondément dans son âme et savait tous ses secrets, mais surtouts il y avait dans le sourire un amour passionné comme celui qu’il ressentait pour elle.  « La Lumière m’a donné la capacité d’armer toute la haine, toute la douleur au-dessous des milles de trente et de les convertir, je ne suis pas tout à fait sûr comment, en une énergie, positif et forte, qui peut détruire tout l’obscurité placée dans mon chemin….ce qui est pourquoi il a couru, il est effrayé ; il sait que je suis celui qu’il a senti sa vie entière qui pourrait le détruire. »

Comme si conduit dans un orchestra une ombre foncée s’est moulée sur la lune, emportant toute la lumière du ciel ; un tremblement de terre a commencé à envoyer le vol de Zachary loin d’Alexia et l’obscurité s’est développée si fortement qu’on pourrait la sentir danse les os. « Elles est lui ! » la voix d’Alexia est venue grondant étonnamment fort, et une lueur vacillante, faible, a commencé à travers le canon séparant les deux amoureux ; le cœur de Zachary s’est arrête pendant quelques secondes paralysé, par la crainte pour sa vie et celle de con amour.  Les nuages foncés les entourant ont commencé à prendre une nouvelle forme ; soudain, obscurité s’est tenue devant le couple, plus fortement que jamais, et a commencé à croiser vers Zachary dans l’intention de détruire chaque fibre de son être ; cependant, avant qu’elle ne puisse toucher Zachary avec son petit doigt, la lueur entourant Alexia est devenue brillant. 

Le magicien, se rétrécissant déjà dans la taille, s’est tourné vers la lumière et a moulé une ombre ainsi Zachary foncé ne pourrait pas voir à Alexia ; ainsi il pourrait voire que cette bataille n’avait pas été combattue avec les armes, une force invisible, mais par quelque chose d’invisible, quelque chose qu’il ne pourrait pas comprendre. Les deux ennemis se sont tenus l’un devant l’autre, visiblement s’affaiblissant à chaque minute ; Zachary a essayé de fonctionner vers Alexia, essayant désespérément de l’aider, mais il a trouvé son chemin barré par un mur invisible, et tout ce qu’il pouvait faire était de se tenir délaisse et regardé, a prévoyant la destruction qui était sûre de se produire.  Comme s’il avait vu la manière de détruire la lumière, l’ombre du magicien est devenue d’une taille gargantuesque, mais tout aussi rapidement qu’il est apparu il s’est trouvé complètement morte aux pieds de Zachary. 

Assommé, Zachary a lentement marché vers la masse de la mort à ses pieds, la seule évidence qu’une bataille s’étaient produite était les marques noires de scortch et les chiffrons foncés qui son demeurés de leur ennemi, il l’a pris autrefois pour réaliser la manière d’Alexia chiffonnée dans une pile de nouveau, fragile et presque mort.  Il a couru à elle, des questions fonctionnant dans sa tête pourtant incapable de dire un mot, l’ont saisi et jugé  lui pour il était sûr qu’elle ne survivrait pas la nuit, et lentement basculé lui frottant dans les deux sens ses chevreau et visage, le souhaiter était lui.  « Il est mort, le monde est placé bien de nouveau, et ma mission, mon destin a été accompli et tout est en réglé » elle que les mots on effrayé, il a désespérément voulu qu’elle survécût, il d’était rien sans elle, en réponse à ses pensées elle a dit « ne t’inquiet pas, j’irai bien ; la Lumière m’a donné le Temps de vivre par vie normale avec un amour…Zachary, je suis vôtre. » 

Music, Military and Festivals - Part 3 of Requested Article

IV.             Music, the Military and Festivals: The Importance of the Band in Banal Nationalism
Because institutions play a large role in the development of a national identity, much of the social-science research on institutions has focused on the role of the military and its ability to unite a nation in times of war, the state’s ability to mobilize the energies of its soldiers, and the connection between nationalism and war (Posen, 1993; Stern, 1995; Evera, 1994).  Research has considered the standard operating procedures of the institution (SOPs) – both the obvious and more subtle – and how the military is viewed by the people of the state.  When considering the role of the military band, most researchers look to the traditional role of the band to announce the army’s presence on the battlefield and music’s ability to help soldiers “ward of fatigue, inspire[e] heroism, mak[e] their enemies tremble, and ultimately decide[e] the outcomes of battle” (Kastner, 1855:45, 47), as seen in case of the French National Anthem Marseillaise.  Logically, the primary focus of the research centers on how the military band interplays with specific military functions; but, this narrow review fails to consider how the band affects other social aspects such as state sponsored festivals, funerals and celebrations.    
As Billig argues, banal nationalism plays an essential role in the development of a national identity.  Banal nationalism is the flag hanging from the bakery, the politicians “God bless the (fill in the nation)” in his inaugural speech, and the national anthem played at sporting events.  This form of nationalism plays an essential role in the minds of citizens giving them “pleasure-saturated reminders” of the possibility to serve (Billig, 1995:175).  This form of nationalism was crucial to the French military throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, in times of piece and war.  Yet, as Hobsbawm argues, tradition is invented, the practice and rituals of the military all were invented to create certain values and norms of behavior through a justification of the past (Hobsbawm, 2003).  Just as these norms were crucial for the solider, the same traditions (and many different ones for the musician) were instilled in the bandsman as well. 
A nation’s military success or failure is a critical element in the examination of a nation’s nationalism.  For France, the military was committed to the battlefield quasi-continuously throughout the nineteenth century.  France had fought in the Franco-Prussian War, had multiple revolutions, and was continually at war with Europe under Napoleon.  This made the military and its band an essential institution in the minds of the French.  Wielding a French horn became inseparable from wielding a mitrailleuse.  The band grew to symbolize national strength, grandeur and glory.  Gradually the German musicians that first populated the military band were replaced with musicians “locally trained” at the Conservatoire (J.B., 1890).  This step removed the perceived foreign dross from an institution that needed to be seen as distinctively French in nature.  At the same time these musicians were becoming uniquely French, the state began to use the band in less militaristic roles such as funerals, festivals and celebrations.  By expanding the exposure of the band to the civilian populace the state gained audience for a state sponsored message.
In times of peace, the military band was used by the state to encourage its people and to infuse citizens with pride in the nation which was best accomplished through the use of festivals.  Attendance of these festivals could often be vast with as many as 300,000 representatives from eighty-three departments present at any one festival (Pasler, 2009:109-10).  No matter the purpose of the festival, music was always the focal point of ceremonies.  Music would structure the procession and once the procession ceased, the people would join in singing as a form of ratifying “the ideal of the common will in harmony with the will of the organizers” (Pasler, 2009:110-11).  Music created an imagined community through the act of participation giving the people a way in which they could identify with current events. 
The military band through festivals created a three-prong legacy.  First, the band made the populace aware of its presence and identity through participation in song.  Much like Anderson’s argument that newspapers allowed citizens to imagine every other citizen doing the same thing at the same time, musical pieces at festivals allowed citizens to participate in the same activity at the same time thereby contributing to a unified national mindset.  Second, the band legitimized the government at festivals.  Each festival allowed for the government to use its bands, the musicians from the Conservatoire, and often stars of the Opéra.  The state was able to commission works and composers which focused on its success.  Finally, the music involved at the festival was seen as useful to the state to create an emotive feeling toward the nation and durable because the pieces would be played long after the festival had ended (Pasler, 2009:232-3).   The state would often commission composers to create works to be played outdoors for the nation to hear – this began a transition in music toward bugles and drums because of their ability to carry sound.
The state used the emotive power of the military band to unify the citizenry under one flag (Pasler, 2009).  As with any well planned battle strategy, the state would seek out composers sharing the same views as the state and commission those composers to create centerpiece compositions selling the position of the government.  For the state the primary focus of these pieces was the political ideology.  For the composer it was expression of the art.  One of France’s most highly admired composers to be used by the state was Hector Berlioz.  Berlioz (composer, critic, and teacher) once wrote in an essay entitled On limitation in Music that “it was never his intention to paint pictures or tell stories in music, but rather to explore emotions” (Langford, 2000:54).  Additionally, due to his critiques of other composers who did not follow the French model the state wanted to use his work (Langford, 2000). The state understood this emotive connection and utilized it to its fullest.
Festivals were particularly important to the French government because they created a sense of community; the state saw the band as fulfilling a ceremonial purpose of creating unity (Langford, 2000:65).  One of the most important festivals was the one held in remembrance of the three-day revolution of July 1830.  The Minister of Interior, Charles de Rémusat commissioned Berlioz to provide music for the procession and conclusion of the festival at which the remains of the victims of the revolution were exhumed and transported for reburial beneath the monument at the Place de le Bastille.  Berlioz found inspiration for the works in patriotic music written for outdoor celebrations during the Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire (Langford, 2000:66).  Berlioz wrote a seven movement symphony for the occasion entitled Grande Symphonie funèbre et triomphale.  Critics, audiences, and Berlioz’s usual detractors all thought this was the best piece he had ever composed, though musicologists believe this was due to the work’s “basis of immediate accessibility and overall simplicity of style – all hallmarks of traditional French patriotic music” (Langford, 2000:66).  The state was able to use music and the military band to capitalize on the patriotism of the French people thereby increasing state prestige in the minds of the citizenry. 
Musicologists have shown the military band also played a role in the construction and maintenance of French identity throughout the French colonies.  Music performed by the bands in new theatres especially helped the Algerians to assimilate into the French culture (Pasler, 2009:401).  In the Algerian colony, the band provided entertainment through French music, but also used the Moorish sounds to blend the two cultures and aid in assimilation.  A clear example is Saint-Saëns’s Rhapsodie mauresque, set in a Moorish café amid dancing while still suggesting the French military presence in Algiers through the traditional French use of horns and drums.  The opening prelude, as well as the closing, used the bugle horn; the second piece used a pompous and lively French military march.  The structure of the piece was designed to deliver the French message while highlighting the colonial musicology by blending the two concepts the state and its political song in a musical language understood by its colonists.  The military band aided in the construction of the French imagined community by strengthening the notion of “French-ness” in the minds of the colonists as well as at home.  The use of the band at national festivals and celebrations allowed the state to have a strong presence in the minds of the people. 
Although these observations of the military band are useful in the examination of music and French nationalism, the examination falls short in a number of areas.  Once again, musicologists largely limit their research to Paris with only a passing consideration of outlying areas such as the colonies.  This is an addictive trail to follow as the band was supplied by the Conservatoire and most large festivals were held in Paris.  Because the examination is so limited it does call into question musicologists’ claims that the band was a national tool.  Additionally, this approach does not focus on the way the military was used in general in conjunction with the band (Buruma, 2004; Anderson, 2006; Hobswbawm, 1968, 1990).  Again, a thorough investigation of institutions is missing from this narrative.  Social scientists have shown that the military itself is an institution that is used to create uniformity and emotive connections to the state and its members (Anderson, 2006; Stern, 1995) through such SOPs as chanting war songs and military drills that create brotherhood on the field - most of which the citizen does not see.  The musicologist’s approach does not show how music fulfills this role within the military institution itself, nor within the state of France
Moreover, this approach does not consider how the military was viewed in general.  France was in constant turnover in nineteenth century going through numerous republics, monarchs, empires, and revolutions – all violent.  The state always used military backing in hopes of keeping their place of power.  Therefore, depending on which side of the battle one was on, the view of the military could be drastically affected.  If one did not support the state, they very well may not have supported the military and may have seen the band as only an extension of the institution they did not support.  This has been seen in the many revolutions during the nineteenth century, the desertions of the Napoleonic army that continuously plagued the French state.  With such instances as the peasant self-mutilation of the first two fingers to prevent being able to fight (Cobb, 1970:96-7) to flight and desertion (Scott, 1985:30-40) it is not such a far stretch of the imagination to think the view of the state influences the view of the military and its band. 
Additionally, the view of the peasantry toward the military has not been considered in the musicologists’ approach.  Many peasants saw the military as a way to provide for themselves and to climb the social ladder, not as a unifying institution (Scott, 1976; Weber, 1976).  Peasants could have fallen on one side of the state politically and joined the military only for its ability to provide, creating a conflict within the citizen for which the band could not provide an antidote.  The use of the band in overcoming these views is not considered, and therefore, musicologists fall short once again. 
The military as an institution plays a role in the development and continuation of the nation.  Musicologists have shown that music used by the band in the military, especially at festivals, plays an important role in the development of the nation (both within the band and in the public that hears its music). However, their focus centrally on Paris and lack of indepth understanding of SOP’s makes their contribution to nationalism limited at best.  However, the exclusion of music within the military band by social scientists limits their understanding of the role of the military in nation formation, creation, and why people would go to war to die for their nation (as recent research tries to answer).  It is only by uniting these disciplines that the role of the military in nation formation can truly be understood.  

Courage: Part 1-2

Keira lay on her bed attempting the culmination to a story she no longer felt was worth the effort.  Writer’s block was more than a wall that hindered her progress; it was a war she quietly fought within herself.  She was too distracted with the complications of life to finish what she now considered a frivolous story.  If she could only get a little respite from the stifling world she lived in then perhaps her passion could be awakened again. 

The year was 1512 and England was beautiful.  Rolling hills, immense forests and a jutting coast line where the wind wrapped around everything in its place with the mischief of a ten year old boy.  Nights brought dense fog and a chill so cold it went straight to the bones.  The quiet hours of the dawn brought dew that stuck to the meadows and brought the magic of nymphs to the otherwise cold dark reality that plagues the world of humans. 

The constant threat of war was no stranger to these parts.  It was beating on the preverbal door and Keira knew her role in preventing one with the French would not be small.  It was not uncommon for daughters to be the alliance builders, as marriage was a way to make people believe that family was stronger than the political pressures of the world.  She also knew, marriage to any one of the potential suitors would mean nothing without producing a male heir, there by strengthening the alliance through blood.  But all Keira wanted was a quite life with her parchment in the solitude of the arms of the love she knew was out there…somewhere.  But, as her parents were quick to point out, it was improper for a young lady to write stories, she should be learning the role of painting, and reading, being able to entertain a king.  It was not looked highly upon for a woman to hold any ideas of her own.    

Yet, Keira, did not want to marry a king.  It was her simple wish to live a simple life with a God fearing man who would love her for who she was, not who he wanted her to be.  Someone like the quite knight who liked to polish his saddle and brush his horse in solitude, always in what seemed quite prayer, would be perfect for her.  But he was not one of the many suitors who continually pursued her hand.  Keira was beautiful; there was no doubt about that.  Her long dark hair would flow behind her swirling in the wind of the moors where she liked to take walks.  Her dark blue eyes and pale skin were contrasts to the mane she wore that drew even the most closed of hearts.  She had her father’s kind hearted wisdom and her mother’s beauty; the heart of every Englishman except Sir Charles. 

The future was stifling.  Keira walked to the window to get a breath of fresh air.  The cool breeze was welcome relief as it hit her face and incorporated itself into her very being.  She breathed deeply.  She could see the castle stables from her second story window.  From here they looked like peaceful churches full of penitent patrons and solemn monks.   Within those sturdy walls she knew all the knights from every district would be busily brushing horses, polishing suits of armor, or working on fighting stances just beyond the stable doors.  There would be commotion so grand it would pulsate through the walls.  The innocent bystander would walk away with an unfamiliar ringing in their ears.  Every knight prepared to fight for the ultimate prize – Keira’s hand and ultimately the kingdom. 

Keira’s eyes began to burn with tears as she realized she would never be happy with any of the knights in that stable.  Their masculine views of a woman’s role shaped by society since childhood; she stood no chance of being herself if she married one of them.  They would demand a docile creature, quite, speaking only when spoken to.  Her passion for life would be squelched with every day of the weary political decision making being consulted only for signature here or there never for what she really thought.  She was a bead at a bizarre being bid and bargained for.  She was not a human with a soul, but a piece of meat sold to the highest bidder.  Anger shot through her like a lightening bolt.  How could they expect her to resign herself to this?  The monotony itself would be death. 

Then, as if an answer to her prayer, she saw him - the solitude, penitent knight who always seemed so distant to her.  She remembered walking by the stables as a child hoping to catch his eyes, and then always asking him to saddle her horse for rides as she got older.  He never complained and always held her in high regard, but always limited their interactions to the bare minimum. 

Sir Charles, tired and sweaty from the days work, slowly walked his black stallion, Magnificent, toward the stables.  His copper hair reflected the sunlight as it stuck to his face from sweat.  As though he could hear her silent calls to him, he looked up to see her tear stained face in the window.  She quickly turned away.  She could not let him see her in this weak state.  This ugly state – red eyes and blotched skin. What she did not realize, and what Sir Charles did in that one moment of seeing her weakness, was that he loved her.  He loved her with every fiber of his being.

He, too, remembered those days when he taught her about horses.  He remembered her childish innocence and willingness to learn.  Always wanting to accomplish things on her own, but always being self aware of her weakness.  He remembered as she grew in grace and confidence when she would demand the respect of all in her presence by simply entering the room.  He knew he had always loved her, now if only he could show her how much. 

A young stable boy had the stealth of a knight running up the many corridors of the castle and ducking into the dark shadows of the towers as he secretly delivered an unexpected note.  He was a young boy Keira had only seen once helping Sir Alex (her unspoken betrothed) fix the saddle on his horse.  She felt so bad for the boy to have to work for that atrocious knight, her heart cried out for him.  Alas.  When she saw the young boys face of innocence, her heart sunk that night, praying the letter he delivered was not meant for her, was not from Sir Alex.  She considered having Lady Petunia turn the boy way.  But the kind heartedness of Lady Petunia stayed her heart and she let the boy approach. 

“My Lady, a note from Sir Charles,” the young boy breathlessly blurted.  His brow was wet with sweat, his chest heaved from his ordeal. 

Sir Charles?!  Keira could not believe her ears.  She was so certain Sir Charles did not even recognize her existence.  Surely she had heard wrong.  She held her breath as she reached for the letter.  Heart stalled, she broke the seal and began to read. 

“My Dearest and Truest Love,

‘Had he really said love?’ Surely she was imagining her wildest dream come true.

I have loved you since you were a child and took walks by the stable and now as you have grown and ride those horses by the sea with such grace.  I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of the King, your father.  Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.  How beautiful you are, my darling!  Oh, how beautiful.  Your eyes are doves.  Like a Lilly among thorns is my darling among the maidens and ladies of the court. 

How can I give you up to Sir Alex?  How can I hand you over to him?  My heart is changed within me, all my compassion is aroused.  But I will go to battle for your heart, my Love.  I will fight for you with the heart of a lion, as God fought for Israel

My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face lovely.  Come to me, my dove, tonight by the stables.  I must see your face. 
                                                                                    In love for you always,                                                                                                                     Sir Charles

As the mere shock of receiving such a note faded, she looked to Lady Petunia imploringly.  What was she to do?  How would she be able to get out of the castle at such a late hour?  As always, Lady Petunia had the answer.  She would throw on Lady Petunia’s cloak, keep her head down, and walk as though she were finishing her nightly duties with the Princess tonight.  For all intensive purposes, tonight she could be invisible to all. 

Keira threw the barrowed tattered cloak on and as slowly as she could she rushed to the stables.  She had grown with excitement as she journeyed to the stables, and there was a great hollowing in her heart as she realized she was alone.  Certainly she had not been mistaken.  Perhaps the last hour had just been the dream she had always imagined.  Perhaps, she was destined to be alone or with the one who could never love her for her.  After all, it was no secret Sir Alex expected her to carry on tradition, to put down the pen, and to let him govern.  She was destined to a life of deep sorrow and bitter pain.  As her heart began to harden against the mere idea of love, Keira began to cry. 

There was a noise at the stable doors.  Keira hid behind a pile of hay, her tears stuck to her face, but she dared not make a sound.   Trying to hold her heaving breath and still the increasing beat of her heart, she thought of all the terribly possible situations that may occur tonight.  No one, aside from Lady Petunia, knew where she was, and dressed as she was she would gain no respect.  Her heart beat with fear within her as the shadow moved closer to her.  Each step echoed menacingly in the empty room. 

Then she saw the familiar shadow.  Here heart could not take the suspense any longer and she ran toward him.  Sir Charles had come.  She had not been dreaming.  Her heart leapt with an inexpressible joy.  She could write a thousand love poems based on the past couple hours alone.  How could she have doubted him?  How could she have hardened her heart so quickly? 

He gathered her in his arms, having known it was her from the moment he saw her shadow.  It was as though he knew her more than she knew herself.  Every curve of her face, every graceful movement he had memorized years ago. 

“Why are you shaking?”  He looked into her eyes as though they were the only two people in the world.  “Beloved, you have been crying?  What troubles you so that I might see such a tear stained face?”

“Darling, I am shaking from cold and a touch of fear my hopes and desires would never come true.  I am crying because I thought you would never come.”

Sir Charles took off his cloak and wrapped it around her warming her more with his presence than the wool that clung to her.  She would never doubt him again.  The power of love would always win out in the end. 

“My beloved, I know what I offer is forbidden.  I know you are betrothed to Sir Alex, but might I offer to fight for your hand?  Surely, there is more than just staying a war.  I will lead the battle should one come, but I must have you as my own.  I cannot bare the thought of watching another treat you like an object instead of the graceful dove you are.”

“My lover is mine and I am his.  I slept, but my heart has been awakened by you for these many years.  May what you have said come to pass.  But, alas, it is getting late and Lady Petunia will begin to worry.”

Unwilling to let her go with just words of love, Sir Charles had to take the risk.  He caught her face in his hands and looked longing at her as the moon light shone upon it through a crack in the wall.  She was more beautiful than he deserved.  Gently taking her chin in his hand he raised her face towards his and gently, but passionately kissed her.  He kissed her as though he would never see her again, as though she was the only one in the world, a treasure to a pirate.  Her heart swelled inside her bosom as though it would explode at the gentle touch of his hand.  As his lips collided with her in tender compassion and love, her body stilled.  The moment was theirs and theirs alone.  She was so utterly quite.  It only took a moment for her to be loved a lifetime.

As their moment ceased and she was drawn back to dark reality, she slowly began her walk back to the castle.  She looked back once, unable to believe this was truly happening to her.  But as their eyes connected again in the silence of the stables with the sheep and cattle their only witness, she knew this was the beginning of a wild adventure.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some French History: Part 2 of the requested Article

Institutions play a large role in the development of culture and nations.  Institutions as small as the social interpretation of a wink (Geertz, 1973) to as large as the education system all influence how a society is formed and how it understands itself (Reed, 1993, Buruma, 2004).  Institutions have been studied thoroughly in social science research; however, the institutions of music education (the Conservatoire) and dissemination (the Opéra) vis-à-vis nation construction have received little attention.  The state uses these institutions to filter music in hopes of creating a unified citizenry under one banner.  Therefore, just as much as the military, school education and bureaucracy are studied to see their effects on the populace of a nation, national musical systems need to be investigated.  Because of the state’s hands on approach towards music as a tool of nation formation, France’s musical institutions serve as an excellent case study to begin understanding music’s relationship with nationalism.  This section begins this analysis. 
Keitner argues that the French Revolution was only a stepping stone on the ladder that created the French nation as it is known today (Keitner, 2007).  The Revolution and the Reign of Terror had left the people of France divided and fearful.  When the Jacobins gained control of the government, they began using institutions – the military, education, the Opéra (Fulcher, 2001), and museums – to begin the unification of the French people and restore faith in the government.    The Jacobins, continuing through the Third Republic, saw music as an essential tool to aid in the process of nation building because of its ability to cross boundaries (Larroument, 1895; Johnson, 2000).  It was this belief that began the tradition of a top-down approach to cultural creation through direct control of the Conservatoire de Paris and the indirect control of the Opéra. 
By 1792 the pre-revolutionary maitressies (local musical schools) were disassembled by the state, resulting in the complete disappearance of French public music schools.   To fill this void, and keep the Germans from gaining complete domination of the musical world, the Conservatoire was founded becoming the only place to train musicians.  The Conservatoire’s foremost purpose was to be at the disposal of the government for celebrations and events with the training of musicians considered secondary (Fulcher, 1987:48-53; J.B., 1890:393).  Because it was used at the disposal of the government, the composers were strictly regulated in what they could compose, what the pieces could sound like, and the type of music allowed to be presented to the public (Lockspaiser, 1962). 
On January 3, 1784, a national convention comprised of the constitutional and legislative deliberative assembly (which sat from September 20, 1792 - October 26, 1795) sat to consider the funding, purpose, and organization of the Conservatoire.  Sarette - a military band leader and advocate for the school – in conjunction with Chénier – a poet – drew on French national pride to address the delegates and citizens present:
“The artists of the band of the Paris National Guard, which, as a body, presents an aggregate of talent unique in Europe, come to beg of your love for all that can contribute to the glory of the Republic, the establishment of a National Institute of Music.  The public interest, tied to that of the arts, should make you feel all the utility of their request.  It is a justice due to their citizenship as much as to their humanity.  The artists, for six months past, have devoted their energies and talents to the instruction of youths taken from among the poorest citizens of each section” (emphasis added, J.B., 1890:393).

 These nationalist pleas accentuated the need to educate musicians throughout France by showing the unique talent of the French musicians compared to that of other nations.  This harkens back to Anderson’s idea of a horizontal comradeship showing that nationality is more important than class (Anderson, 2006).  This “comradeship” was seen in the slogan of the French Revolution: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.”  Many of the Jacobin leaders were constrained by this slogan with which had won the revolution.  This slogan was now, at the outset of the nation, a key aspect of why and how decisions were made.  The result of these nationalist pleas was the issuing of the following decree which demonstrates the government’s hope to training a musical force:
“From April 1 next will be provided for the establishment (of the Opéra) a school supplied with able masters of music, the clavecin, declamation, the French language, &c., charged to teach music, composition, and, in general, all that can train the various talents…, as well as all that will be more amply set forth in the regulations to be made determining the choice, functions, and emoluments of the various masters, the number of pupils, and the qualifications for admission, their treatment, and, lastly, the interior management of the said school” (J.B., 1890:393).

This decreed allowed the government to organize the Conservatoire to promote the state’s interests (for as Anderson states, a nation is constructed by the state according to the interests of the sate).  The institution allowed the government the ability to cease “importing” musicians from Germany and Italy (Pasler, 2009:147).  Additionally, the state gained a monopoly on music education. The state was able to use musicians of the Conservatoire at public events to make the government look strong, even at times of weakness, while allowing a platform for the government to use music to cross all dialects and languages (a dilemma faced by all French governments until 1914) (Weber, 1976).  Moreover, through the use of competitions at festivals, the government hoped to create a French national music and create a French pride amongst its people (Pasler, 2009).
When considering the Conservatoire, musicologists investigate the teaching of music – especially solfège – and the role competitions played in the development of composers.  The Prix de Rome (the highest award granted to a pupil of the Conservatoire) is just one of the many examples of the value of music in France.  The award required a two-year stay at the Villa Medici in Rome, optionally followed by a year or two of travel elsewhere, generally to Germany and Italy, and a total of four years of state support.  The state hoped the prize would broaden the horizons of the recipients (Clevenger, 2001:11). This may seem contrary to the elitism found in French music.  However, the French were only beginning to create a sound of their own and realized some of the best operatic music to date was composed by the Germans and Italians.  Although France belittled those nations, the French did see where they could learn from them.  This is similar to math and science today in America.  Many international students come to America to study because America has (arguably) the best programs in the field, and then go back to their home nations to contribute what they learned and make their nation better. 
Musicologists show there was clear desire of the French state to form the musical world (Pasler, 2009; Fulcher, 1987, 2001; Ross, 2008, Kelly, 2008).  The state’s use of the Conservatoire through education and the Prix de Rome Competition as a way to have the composer dependent on the state have shown that music is an essential element in the understanding of the construction of a French national identity.  Additionally, regulation showed the government’s involvement in nation building because it played a limiting role in the development of music – the composer’s pieces had to conform to the desires of the French government. 
Additionally, musicologists’ investigation into the lives of composers while at the Conservatoire has shown the strict building of the hatred of the other – the Germans or Italians - and how the state perpetuated a French musical ideal by keeping other influences from succeeding within the system.  When such outside influences began to take root (such as exoticism), the state would crack down to prevent such growth from occurring.  For example, at the turn of the nineteenth century, Berlioz was denied the harmony class he needed for a conductors position at the Paris Opéra because, although virtually all considered Berlioz the best technically, he created work with exotic influences and failed to support French composers of lesser quality in his reviews (Bloom, 2000:137).  This trend continued well into the turn of the twentieth century when Claude Debussy sat at the piano to mimic the sound of buses (strictly a fun experiment in composition).  One of his peers, M. Emmanuell stated that the sounds he heard at the piano were like sounds he had never heard before:
“groups of consecutive fifths and octaves; seventh which instead of being resolved in the proper way actually led to the note above or weren’t resolved at all; ‘shameful false relations’; chords of the ninth on all degrees of scale; chords of the eleventh and thirteenth; all the notes of the diatonic scale heard at once in fantastic arrangements…All this Claude called ‘le regal de l’ouie’ (a feast for the ear).  Delibese’s class shook with amazement and fear” (Lockspaiser, 1962:30, emphasis added).

Use of such terminology as “shameful” and “proper” illuminate the importance of what was considered French music.  The mere fact that Delibese’s (the composition teacher at the time) class shook with “amazement and fear” gives evidence of the demands of the school from the government who determined which works were French.  Students knew which rules to follow and that their compositions needed to have a French texture, feel and color. 
This incident gave Debussy a reputation as an eccentric and troublesome propagandist, which led to an investigation of him for years by the state registrar (Lockspaiser, 1962:30).  It was during this investigation that Émile Réty (the appointed Secretary General of France) asked Debussy “So you imagine that dissonant chords do not have to be resolved?  What rule do you follow?” This implies that there was a correct French way to compose that the state endorsed.  “‘Mon plaisir!’ Debussy replied…And Réty turned away pale with indignation” (Lockspaiser, 1962:30, emphasis added).  The Secretary General, angry that Debussy did not follow the French rules, kept him on the registrar for further investigation and observation.  Clearly, musicologists have shown the state had a vested and important role in the creation of French music - and therefore its nation.
The state was heavily involved in competition as well.  Musicologists have shown competition, especially the Prix de Rome, was essential to the development of a French musical identity.  An example is Berlioz’s and Debussy’s experience of competing for the Prix de Rome multiple times due to their less than French compositions.  Specifically, Debussy was denied the award the first two times because his works followed the Wagnerian formula too much, and therefore, were not French enough (Clevenger, 2001:44).    Debussy finally won the Prix de Rome on his third attempt in 1884 with L’Enfant prodigue.  His composition had been significantly changed to follow that of the French Massenet style.
Comparatively, this trend of controlling musical institutions was echoed by the following governments and became significant during the Third Republic.  The Republicans of the Third Republic continued to use the Conservatoire but expanded its influence to the entertainment of the populace.  The Republic used the Opéra Nationale, especially during the years of 1830-1860, to create a national pride and national musical culture.  Through the use of heavy censorship, subsidization, and free and cheap ticket prices for the masses, the government saw the Opéra as a way to connect politically with both the events of the day and those of the turbulent past (Fulcher, 1987, 2001). 
French Grand Opera (which became synonymous with the Opéra) is commonly defined as “French opera of the Romantic period, sung throughout, generally in five acts, grandiose in conception and impressively staged” which became current terminology in the nineteenth century (Oxford Music Dictionary).  Music built up the libretto (the script), the action, and the story (Pendle, 1971:537).  Large choruses were essential to the plot and the production, harkening back to the Greek tragedies in which the chorus was symbolic of the people of Athens

The Opéra was used as a form of aural story telling, as the passing down of myths – especially myths of the Revolution.  Much like the German Wagner’s desire to take ancient myths and see them on stage, French composers and librettists used myths and stories and experimented with subjects from popular literature (Fulcher, 1987:22).  Such examples include Debussy’s Pelleas, Meyerbeer’s Les Hugenots (a commentary on the French Revolution and the Jacobins seen through the parallel of religious conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants) and later Bruneau’s Messidor (Lockspaier, 1962; Ross, 2008; Anglin, 2009). The opera was a tool to propel these myths into the minds of the French citizen, to build a national community, much like the Babuki theatre did in Japan (Buruma, 2003).  Myths through opera also provided a way for the state to involve the masses and construct an imagined community.  Additionally, large choruses (Pasler, 2009), libretto written for a middle class audience (as opposed to the aristocracy) (Lockspaiser, 1962; Fulcher, 1987), and the use of myths combined with the free and cheap performances and the accessibility of the opera to the people led to an increasingly wider fan base (Pasler, 2009). The Opéra was no longer strictly an aristocratic pastime, the working and middle class began attending in masses.

These institutions played significant roles in French nation construction.  Musicologists look extensively at the construction, operation, and influence these institutions had in Paris.  The Opéra and the Conservatoire were both used to educate the people on what was considered French-ness.  Moreover, musicologists have done significant amounts of research into the organization, funding, and interpretation of performances by the Opéra.  Fulcher shows that the state heavily affected the “formation of the genre’s artistic traits, the audience’s construal of their significance, and concomitantly the gradual transformation they sustained in response” (Fulcher, 1987:2).  Pasler looks extensively into the use of censorship, subsidies, and state approaches to diversifying the audiences (Pasler, 2009).  Ross, Johnson, and Rosen all show how the institution was interpreted by the citizenry. 

During the restoration, the Opéra was purely in the hands of the social elite.  The purpose of the Opéra was to seduce and impress, if not directly, by “reaching a wide audience” (Fulcher, 1987:13).  Musicologists have done extensive research into the repertoire of the Opéra and its intended message to the people.  Moreover, they have looked at the physical construction of the Opéra (the removal of boxed seats for the aristocracy and the increase in seats) as well as money spent and the income from revenue.  The overall trend has shown that the Conservatoire and the Opéra were significant to the development of a national identity because of the state’s heavy hand in creating a French musical sound through competitions, education and the control of what the populace heard at the Opéra.  

Musicologists have shown that the state gave music “an honorable sanctuary and a political existence” while establishing a tradition of music upon which the Third Republic later built up with the Opéra (Sarette, speech for the opening of the Conservatoire, 1797).  The government played a large role in what was considered French music, going so far as to label those who did not follow it as propagandists, and to investigate them thoroughly.  Additionally, because composers were often reliant on the state for their livelihood, the state held an important role in the music that was developed.  The state saw both institutions as tools to promote national character in music, create a musical tradition based on revolutionary ideals, allow the state to stay in contact with the soul of the citizen, and to teach these foundations to future generations (Pasler, 2009:149). 
Yet, the musicologist understanding of the French nation is too simplistic, and therefore, not enough to fully understand the relationship between music institutions and nationalism for a number of reasons.  One of the largest problems posed by musicologists’ research and nationalism is that musicologists generalize what happens in Paris as what happens across the French state.  The average population of France 1850-1910 was 37.6 million, with Paris comprising only two million (approximately 5% of the French population) (Historical Atlas, 2009).  Therefore, although it is essential to consider the largest city in France in the construction of the nation, especially given the centralizing nature of the French state, five percent of the population limits the investigation of the nation as a unit.  In attempt to solve this problem they look at boulevard theatres, but even these are mostly located within Paris and did not hold the same prestige the Opéra held. 
Although, throughout France, Paris was considered the cultural center, this research does not show how such institutions were viewed by the citizens beyond the border of Paris in other departments (state-like geographic divisions of France).  This problem additionally limits musicologists’ claims that myths at the Opéra were disseminated among the populace of France.  Furthermore, this approach does not consider the education many composers (including but not limited to David, Berlioz, Debussy) received outside of the Conservatoire from family members or from travels abroad and how it played a role in their musical development at the Conservatoire and, ultimately, what they produced for the state.  Nor does this approach consider the accessibility of these institutions to those citizens living far from Paris.  During the period from the Revolution until approximately the turn of the nineteenth century travel was difficult, there was little infrastructure, weather conditions often made travel dangerous (Weber, 1976) and much of France was comprised of farmers and a work force who did not have the financial means to be able to send a pupil to learn in Paris. 
Additionally, musicologists’ research of these institutions, although considering quantitative features such as receipts of the Opéra and the amount spent in a year, do not consider how much this amounts to in per capita GDP nor how this money was being spent in other departments, which could alter the estimated impact of the institutions on the populace.  Research does not show how the government spent money for the arts, or comparable institutions outside of Paris.   Money is also not the only way to investigate music’s affect.  Research needs to look more extensively into how the people of France understood the arts, which composers the average citizen knew of, which music pieces they could “sing along with” or recognize outside of Paris combined with how the average citizen interpreted these pieces.  This could be accomplished through historic investigation into specific villages, such as Weber’s inquiry begins.  Such data can begin to be found in the op-ed pieces of newspapers, reviews, and the constituency of the papers.  Additionally, data may be found in the references in literature and art to the specific pieces of the day and at festivals and celebrations.  Though the dearth of this research may be very daunting, it still demands investigation. 
Moreover, musicologists do not consider the national conventions nor the ministry offices that were in charge of budgeting for the arts and education.  The standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the traditions of these institutions that affected the outcome of such important decisions, for which the political science research lends a helping hand, needs to be considered for a full comprehension of how the state viewed music and its role in nation building.  Social scientists have shown that institutions have deeply embedded structures that are hard to see without a historical approach and understanding of the meanings of SOPs and the transitions that lead to new SOP’s (Reed, 1993; Olsen and March, 1984).  These meanings can only be established and understood within a discussion of traditions (Hobsbawm, 2003), which is not considered by musicologists. The SOP’s of both the Conservatoire and the Opéra need further investigation in order to see how the artists, composers, and the administration of both saw (or did not see) their role in nation development.  Research should look at the qualifications of appointments to the leaders of the Conservatoire and the Opéra, where they were educated, and job descriptions to begin.  Additionally, a thorough investigation into the minutes of meetings would provide a platform to begin such analysis.
This section shows how a concentrated inquiry into the history and construction of a musical institution is necessary but not sufficient in understanding nationalism because it looks at how the state uses its tools as well as the resources of the people.  Musicologists have provided the starting point from which political scientists can now begin intense investigation.  It is now essential to expand beyond Paris and into the other departments to really begin to see how institutions affected the national construction throughout France.  Moreover, an investigation into the SOP’s of the national conventions as well as the institutions themselves needs further inquiry to best see the extent of state involvement and how the institutions were perceived to affect the citizenry’s understanding of their identity.