Sunday, February 24, 2002

Life has been fairly good over the weekend. I am most definitely in love with Jennifer Knapp's "Undo Me" and "Hold Me Now," as I imagine poor Simba can attest despite my fairly frequent use of headphones. I hope my listening habits don't annoy him. As you might expect for a twentysomething female CCM artist, Ms. Knapp's lyrics have a type of poetry which appeals to me a great deal. Two examples from "Hold Me Now:"

O foot of Christ, would you wait if her harlotries known?

Now, one could argue that this is simply bad grammar: switching verb tenses in "would you wait" (as opposed to "would you have waited," which is what is meant) and leaving out a whole verb between "harlotries" and "known" (i.e., "were"). However, I doubt any of you had any trouble divining the meaning of this slightly laconic line. Furthermore, fudging the rules of grammar here does two things, both constructive. One, it stays tightly within the meter without sacrificing clarity of meaning. Two, it gives the speaker a very colloquial - and very emotion-choked - tone; people's grammar generally doesn't deteriorate unless they're feeling a great deal of emotion, feeling very comfortable with you, or both. Second example:

So point your fingers and laugh if you choose
To say my beloved is borrowed and used
She is strong enough to stand in my love!

I suppose there is at least one lady reading this who is of the opinion that I don't really understand what it means to be "borrowed and used." That's as may be, but I understand it well enough for that line to give me shivers. And that is I think one thing that Christian music ought to strive to do; that is, inasmuch as nearly every Christian song out there functions as a teaching, it ought to present the teaching in a way that makes sense, and this makes sense to me (and you too, I hope) in a very visceral way. In this case what Ms. Knapp has done is both explain the very sound doctrine that Jesus loves us despite the fact that we generally don't consider him to be the most important thing in our lives (actions put the lie to what we tell ourselves!), and open up to the general understanding one of the most important Old Testament metaphors: that of the Chosen People as a slut. That's supposed to be a very strong metaphor, and I think Ms. Knapp has done the church a great service in phrasing it in a way that makes sense on the gut-reaction level that the original metaphor is supposed to make sense on.

The Family came up yesterday to see Testimony's show at Mountain View Chinese Christian Church. The show was good and the family was favorably impressed, which means a lot to me since they're the most discerning critics of performances that I know. Of course I predicted they would be, but it was pleasant to see that I was correct. I also predicted that they would have a number of telling critiques to level against us as a group, and again I was correct although their emphasis was not quite on what I had expected. I don't think this is really the place to go into that, but if you're curious you can certainly ask me, and naturally I'll be bringing up the issues they raised with core (i.e., the four members of Testimony who officially lead the group).

I had a good time on Friday learning the Congress of Vienna (a choreographed waltz) with Dr. Lear. We've worked on our cross-step waltz some, and she really does learn quite fast. We haven't gotten our pivots down, but I suspect that's something that will improve as our rotary waltz improves.

Despite this, I certainly know better waltzers, which may lead some of you to question why I asked her to the Ball when there were certainly other prospects available. Which will have to serve as a segue into a short digression about why I waltz at all. I talked with Shanah Van about this a month back or so (aha! How many of you caught that Shanah is the same girl as someone else in this blog, whose official title is a bit cumbersome for everyday speech?), and I ran into a conclusion at once interesting and mundane: the follow's subjective experience of the waltz is subtly but significantly different than that of the lead. This is something the Dance Master has pointed out to us on innumerable occasions - namely, that the lady is much more in tune with the music and simply dancing than the man - but it is curious to discover it for myself.

For my own part, waltzing is fundamentally about the girl in my arms. I hope that doesn't sound sketchy; it's really the soul of gentility. I am afraid that I may lack the words to describe what I mean in my wonted level of precision, but I will try. What I mean is that the point of waltzing - the thing that makes it worth my time - is giving my partner the best waltz I know how to give. I have, as you may or may not know by now, rather old-fashioned ideas about the relationship between men and women, and this means that I believe it is my solemn masculine duty to be as gracious, gentle, and genteel as possible - in short, to "show a girl a good time." If a girl will let me focus on her - not how she dances, not how I dance, but just on the fact that she is honoring me by consenting to be held in my arms as we spin about the floor and is for those few minutes the queen of my universe - then we have the core of the waltz. If you haven't waltzed before, by the way, not all girls will give you that consent - they might be in your arms but they refuse to let you adore them by means of the smile on your face and the way you sweep them by and let them dance. Few girls seem to understand how much that means - perhaps because their own experience of the waltz is apparently quite different from what I have described. And I admit that letting a guy adore you is usually a dangerous thing. That is what I love so much about the waltz: it is a societally sanctioned, safe time in which you can do that. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I waltz.

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