Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards

The sources I’ll probably rely on the most are Luther’s preface to Symphoniae jucundae. It’s personally one of my favorite writing of Luther because it resonates so well in my life as well as a good explanations of why music and Lutherans go hand in hand. Another source I’ll remember is the Holsinger article on Hildegard because it was so distant from what I knew about Hildegard from Great Con. One source I will thoroughly try to forget is John Butt’s article on the metaphysics of Bach. Basically whenever Spinoza is brought up, even if only to say that he will play a large role in the next chapter, I will not be a fan.

I will also remember the conversation we had about the election. It was really neat to come together and talk about it in a cordial way. We’ll have to see what happens, but I bet if we can keep coming together like that, things probably won’t go to hell in a handbasket. I also really liked our discussions about BWV 243. Usually I don’t think about her much at all, so it is good to be reminded that she is important for understanding the story of Jesus’ life.

A lesson I’ll probably use outside St. Olaf is that just because a paper has an absurd thesis, doesn’t necessitate it having a weak argument. Not only are there forces in the field to which I may be unaware, but being charitable at the outset of a paper seems like an academic virtue.

I wish we had spent more time on the theologians who influenced Luther, and what they thought about music. I am sometimes guilty of deifying Luther too much. Placing Luther in a tradition that I believe goes back at least to Augustine makes Luther seem less like either a one off madman or ecclesiastical savior, and more like a reasonable human character.

This class covered two topics which are of great interest to me and most of the people I know, quite frankly. It was enjoyable and informative, and I hope it will be taught many more times.

The title is half of a quote from Kierkegaard’s journals from 1843.

Leave a Reply