AACS Symphonic Band’s American Music

In the AACS Symphonic Band on American music, through several song selections, the Band expressed several modes of thinking that have been prominent in America. The first song, “Fanfare for the Common Man”, describes a freedom derived from the Bible and focused on the individual.
As we progress through America’s history, we reach a point where all people try to get more power, wealth, and freedom, and they think that life is about status. This view leads to a middle class power. The American dream is to make his life his own, and to achieve things for himself. Dietrich Bonhoeffer expresses the idea that this view of man which follows a human nature should be avoided so we can follow Christ. Some of these views were shown through the song “Last Ride of the Pony Express.”
Then we move into an era where we start to stray from the Bible, and our dream manipulates the Gospel to fit our own desires. We need to evaluate how the Bible is being used, and do what Proverbs 3:5-8 says by beginning to trust in the Lord again. The song relating to this mindset was “Washington Post March.”
The fourth section of the concert was music from “Wicked”, which embodied individualism. II Timothy 4:3-4 talks about how people seek only people who will tell them that their thoughts are true. Other than that, individualists isolate themselves. What the people should be doing is seeking truth to serve society rather than just themselves.
The next portion of the concert was a song called “Shenandoah.” This song asks us to free ourselves from the world, and look toward a different and distant country, rather than focusing on worldly (and temporary) pleasures. This idea is further shown in the Bible in Matthew 6:19-21.
The last song of the concert was called “Choral and Shaker Dance II.” This song shows the view of relativism. People have begun to care nothing about others and only about themselves. Moral absolutes of the past have become moral ambiguity. Last of all, everyone’s opinion has become equal, regardless of a person’s defense for having that view. In Isaiah 55:8-9 the Lord declares that overall, his ways will always be greater than ours, and that is all that we really need to know.

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The Truth in Nature

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This time I walked around the pond behind my house. Behind my house there is a field and behind that field is one edge of the pond, and then the edge continues behind my neighbor’s house (this man also owns the pond), and then goes along the woods, and curves around next to a cornfield. I started by walking out of my yard and then on the edge of the pond in my neighbor’s property. The pond is always interesting because there are usually a lot of geese on it or on the area surrounding it. Sometimes I will run up and scare the geese away, and a couple hundred will fly up and retreat to a part of the water which is farther away from me. As I walked through my neighbor’s yard, I was worried of him coming out to yell at me, as he has done a few times over the years. The interesting thing is that at one point there was a no trespassing sign by the water, and the times that he has come to stop my friends and I was only to keep us safe by warning us from walking on the ice during the winter. As I continued walking and got out of that area to the side of the pond adjacent to the woods, I thought about how the pond is man-made. Most people do not know that the pond is man-made, but when you walk along the back of it, you can see that that side is basically a straight line, and there is also and faintly visible pipe, which flows into the woods, facing up out of the water which the pond drains into when it fills up.
This experience made me think about how even when things look real in nature, they may not be natural. I am talking about the pond here, and most people think that it is natural. It has many aspects of reality, especially to be real enough for the geese to enjoy it. There are no fish in the pond, at most just snakes and frogs, and yet I often see the geese dipping their heads in the water for food. The only reason that I know the pond is not real is because of how much time I’ve spent living right next to it. I’ve seen this pond even when there is no water in it because it was hot one summer. Because of this I know how it is deceptively shallow. It appears to be at least five feet deep to most people, but it is really only two feet at its deepest point.
The truth in this experience is that we cannot know whether things are true or not from a distance. This is adaptable to our lives as for Christ trying to examine false teaching. From a distance, we think that most things are truth, and some (like geese) even think that they can get nourishment from it, but to really know whether it is true or not, we must closely examine it, and test it for truth. In my situation with the pond, we once went fishing (this would be like testing it) and we discovered that there were no fish in it. We must always be aware of what is truth in our surroundings even when we think that we are moving through nature.

Following Our Selfish Pride

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This time when I went into the woods, I went to a place where I usually do not go. We drove a few miles away from our house and I entered in a different spot. Before this point, I had only come to this area from the opposite direction. If I wanted to, I could walk back to my house from there but it would be tricky. While there I came across this stream that went along through the woods. It broke into several smaller streams along the way as well. While trying to walk through, I had to jump over some of these smaller streams (one of which jumping did not land me on my feet), still about four feet in width, so as to not reach a dead end. There was one place behind a house that I was trying to get to while I was in the woods. As I kept walking toward this area, a strange thing happened. I would jump over every stream I could to get closer, and at some point I realized I was walking along this wide stream shown in the picture. This one was about ten feet across, and it was too far to jump over. I followed along the stream for about twenty minutes trying to find a way across to I could get to my destination, and at some point I realized that I was basically trapped on this side, and that the only way to cross over would have been if I never crossed those small streams at the beginning. In trying to find my way there, I ended up much farther away from it than when I started, always hoping there would eventually be an easy way to cross over.
This experience made me think of the things that we do in life to try to make things easier for ourselves. Often, the solution is right in front of us (perhaps God given right to us), but instead we still decide that we can find an easier solution anyway. These choices which are based on pride can lead us astray and cause us more trouble than they are worth. We follow ourselves and take great strides, sometimes not even succeeding in the little things. How can we possibly believe that we are able to cheat our way through harder tasks? Once we realize the possibility of our mistake, we still refuse to come back, because we will have wasted more time. As we continue on, we are finally led to the conclusion that continuing on this bad path itself is wasting time, and we turn back.
The truth in this experience is that we are stubborn, and we too often believe that we do not need God’s path in our life. We think that we have more experience and knowledge about our current situation, and even when God keeps on telling us that we are wrong, we ignore him for our own selfish choices. We need to start thinking more clearly to let God have greater role in our lives, directing us in the path we should take.

The Path God Has Set Before Us

edge of the forest

I spent this time walking in a field. As can be seen from the picture, what was interesting about this time was that the edge of the field quickly became the beginning of the forest. This field is a corn field, but right now there is no corn obviously. And yet even from the picture we have evidence that crops have been grown on it. I could see the lines in the ground, and the tire marks from the tractors that gathered the corn. Walking along the edge of the field, I found it hard to enter the woods. There were few points of entry, as the edge of the forest either had trees, fallen branches, or more thorn bushes. There was really no area, even inches away from where the woods began, that would not have corn growing on it. It is so much faster to get across the land on the field. My result ended up being about half and half; I would get out of the woods and walk along the field and then later, I would find a hole in the foliage and make my way back into the woods. Then later I would come back out to feel the simple painless flat world, rather than the slanted terrain filled with obstacles.
This experience made me think about how I react with different options. It makes me realize how nature has two different distinct environments. There is an environment that is ordered, and in which it is easy to perceive God’s complexity, like the cornfield, which has lines in the dirt. These lines show that it will one day produce fruit (or vegetables), and in my life it is better to follow that path, because it produces (spiritual) fruit in my life. When someone works on the land, it may be hard, but it will produce fruit with God’s grace (and his providence through the rain). For me walking through the field, the analogy can be continued. As I begin to experience the corn rising up during the year, it will become progressively harder to walk through. This shows how when we, with God’s help, face tough challenges and come out victorious, God will give us harder challenges which we will again need to rely on him for assistance. There is also the forest, which do not bear fruit, and are still hard to maneuver through. When we hide from God and stray away from him, he will help us to understand how we cannot live without him, as our attempts in the wilderness do not bear fruit, and we are not able to survive without him, which will help us to go back to the field where he will shower his grace upon us like rain.
The truth is that without God we are lost, and though we think our way is better at times, God’s path for us will lead us into victory over the obstacles he has set before us. I just need to keep telling myself this in my own life. Why do I always think that the way which is obviously harder will be better to walk through? Sometimes I can make that simple choice of what path to take so much harder by not doing what is God’s will. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

Finding the Greatness in God’s Creation

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This picture does little to effectively describe the environment which I encountered. This is a place me and my friends may venture into when we want to imagine a world we have never known before. Although it is relatively close to houses, when we are in this part of the woods, we feel as though we are in a whole separate world. This place that I discovered consists of a sort of valley. The sides of this valley are fairly steep, and in the middle is a swampy region. In most of the areas the water is stagnant, but it flows freely in a few areas. My favorite place, shown in this picture, happens to be a very tall uprooted tree. Generally when I arrive here, I will spend my time at the base of the tree, and as there are other fallen trees in the area behind it, there are a lot of thick branches which can easily be used as seats. There are a lot of places for error to happen though, as falling off of these logs would probably result in a lot of pain after falling on twisted and knotted branches and possibly into a muddy swamp. If I keep my balance though, I get the best view of the area, and it looks rather magnificent. It is especially great to feel the solitude, and to be able to come back year after year to see nature as a whole. To get there though, you must travel through a couple miles of woods, encountering lots of obstacles along the way, including some forms of death. There are a lot of fallen branches to climb over, a river to jump across, sometimes animal skulls and bones on the ground, and hundreds of thorn bushes that will never leave your clothes or skin unscathed.
This experience gave me a sense of freedom. This place is a place where I can to venture without directions, and explore a world which was not set before me by my parents, or anyone else, except God who knows of it. I can see it as a metaphor for my own life as well. There will always be a steep hill to walk along, and I will have to hold on to rigid structures like trees to keep from falling. This is similar to hold on to either principles, guidelines that God has set up to help me in my walk, or parents and mentors in my life, even Christ himself. But some of these trees are deceptive: I recall once walking along that same place to the massive uprooted tree, and as it got steeper and I was about to fall running alongside it, I reached out to a thin tree for support, and when I grabbed it, it was like a hollowed out shell of a tree and came right out of the ground, offering no help at all. Thankfully I did not fall because there was a much bigger tree nearby to hold me up in my confusion. It is easy for someone to follow temptation and fall into the swamp as well, and the one day when my friends and I went into the swampy area while trying not to get wet, we were separated and each got stuck on little marshy islands so that if we tried to jump off our feet would sink in the mud. This is what it is like trying escape temptation. But, if we do not stray from the Word, and we “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9), then we will one day see the prize, and we “will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 1:11)
The truth is that the fall did not only affect people as God’s Creation, but all of God’s Creation. We see pain and suffering in all forms of life, and death is always near. But as God’s light can shine through us, his light will always shine through his Creation as well, and we can always find joy in his kingdom. It may not always be easy to find, and there may be struggles pestering us along the way, but when we see the great overview of what he has done, it is all more than worth the struggle, even if we are only receiving a miniscule taste of what it to come.

Song Lyrics That Represent Ideas of Early America

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”Rolling Stones

       While this song is clearly not aimed to have a connection with early America, I think there are some aspects that fit the mindset of the people in that era. These people were under the impression that their actions would fit what would happen to them (the more “righteous” that they were, the less bad things would happen to them). The whole idea of this song is that you don’t always get what you want (even if you are righteous – which no one can be even though early America thought they could), but there is still a hint of (and God helps us with this) getting what you need when you try hard enough (for our case – try hard enough to be righteous). At the end there is also a very small parallel (commonly found with the Rolling Stones) in that a demonic presence begins to enter the song, saying that this woman has been deceiving the audience the whole time before murdering a man – very similar to demonic presences among the colonies, and they were always there, just waiting for the moment to strike, possessing the people.

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was a footloose man
No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need
I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection
At her feet was a footloose man
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need
And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse”
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need
I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
I said to him
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need
You get what you need–yeah, oh baby
I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

AP Practice Take-Home Essay On Individuality

            First of all, there are clearly many similarities between individuality and nationality. When we say individuality, we are describing what sets us apart from others. In some ways, this is defined by being in a particular group or nationality. And this can define a lot about them; for example, if someone is describing themselves and they say that they are a Communist, then instantly everyone learns a bunch about that person, including some of their morals, and their views on the people in a society. In our world, it is hard not describe yourself by your nationality, because it is what allows you to live in a country and travel to other places. Every country has countries it is enemies with, and so sometimes you are forced to define yourself by a nation. When you say you are from a certain country, you claim to hold its ideals, and obey its laws. That says a lot about your individuality.

            When a person defines their individuality though, they cannot solely define it by their nationality, and this is what Far’s quote is referring more to. A person must, in addition to having a nationality, create their own world. Everyone has certain interests: expand upon those! With me, ever since I was a toddler, whenever I became interested in something, I would try to find out everything I could about it, and I would be obsessed with it. First it was Thomas the Tank Engine, then Herbie the Love Bug (which many people do not know there are 6 movies about), and so on, until I found Star Wars. Like many with their favorite movie, I would watch the six over and over again, until I knew all of the dialogue, quoting it to my friends, playing the video games, reading the books (at this point I have read over sixty different books I believe), and learning as much as I could about it. I was obsessed, and now I have in doing so created something about myself, and defined myself as an individual. When you get down to it, things like that always mean more than nationality. Your nationality and similar technical facts such as name and birthday are what usually go on forms, but your best friends are the people who know your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses, even your favorite food. That shows how much we care about our individuality, and how much we want to know about our friends’ individuality. So, to quote something from my individual experience, I would finish by saying, “Remember, the Force will be with you, always.”