Fratres (Arvo Pärt)

Fratres is one of the few pieces of music I can honestly say changed my life. I first heard it at a new music concert at Rose Wagner theater a few years ago. As far as I can tell, it depicts (if it depicts anything) a group of monks walking past you and praying as you sit in a church. The completely static drone in the 2nd Violin creates a feeling of absolute calm and serenity such as I had never previously experienced in any piece of music. I went home and looked up every song by Pärt I could find. My own music changed greatly because of this piece and my subsequent obsession with spiritual minimalist music. I realized that if Pärt (and others) could build such music out of very simple harmonic, nay, diatonic materials, I could do it too. There was no need to inject gross amounts of dissonance unless it was otherwise called for. Some of the music I wrote since then has been called “kitschy,” “a pastiche,” and ” . . . great drama, but I can’t stand the music” by people in the know, but I don’t mind. The music I write these days comes from my deep soul, a deep soul I didn’t realize was there until this piece unlocked it for me.


Justification and Sanctification

I first remember trying to learn about the difference between justification and sanctification during a New Testament class at BYU.  We talked about it a lot, but I never seemed to be quite able to internalize what the difference was (including when it was asked as a test question).  I’ve still tossed the words around as they’ve been used in a couple of talks and books since then, but today in Sacrament Meeting I finally understood what they mean.  Maybe I’m finally listening.

The speaker today obviously knew her stuff.  Toward the beginning of her talk she was looking for a definition of justification in her notes.  She looked for a few seconds, then, deciding she wasn’t going to find it by looking, defined it on the fly.

It more or less ran like this: Justification is when your sins have been forgiven and you are, in that moment, without sin.  But it doesn’t mean you haven’t sinned, and it doesn’t mean you won’t sin again.  It simply means that, in that moment, you are without sin.  Sanctification is deeper: it is becoming the kind of person who doesn’t want to sin.  It means that, once justified, you will never sin again.  Both are gradual processes; both require the Atonement of Christ in order to happen.  And I guess I have plenty of work to do toward both!

So, anyway, the talks in church today were really good.  I would have thanked the speakers in person, but I was in Primary and they weren’t.  Oh, well.

I’m Gay, and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage (article)

I’m Gay, and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage (article)

I don’t hold with the government-takeover type stuff in this article, necessarily.  But I felt like the part about family actually served to put some of my feelings in order better than I’ve been able to up to this point.  I’m not a staunch anti-gay-marriage Mormon (I used to be), but I have experienced in my own life that marriage to my wife is more fulfilling than any sexual relationship that I could have ever had with a man.  I am not sexually attracted to her femininity, but I respect it and draw strength from it. My wife and I also share an emotional intimacy and honesty that I have never experienced with anyone else in my life, man or woman.

I also feel with the (impending!) arrival of children to our home, they will need both a father and a mother to look up to.  I go to my father and mother for different things, and I know that I certainly couldn’t provide all the succor my children might need.  My wife is so much better with kids than I am, anyway!

I know that the family I want is not guaranteed me; I know that it is not possible or even desirable for everyone.  We all have our own paths to tread, some of which will lead us to very unusual places.  But my path is absolutely the right path for me.  I can’t imagine my life any other way.


I prefer the BYU singers’ recording to this one. But apparently BYU didn’t take kindly to that recording being posted. Whatever.

This piece is a fascinating musical depiction of the emotional process of falling asleep. Some people think it’s weird, but as a lifelong insomniac I find it oddly poignant.