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First Impressions

In my Bible study this morning I came across a memory verse from my early childhood, I Samuel 16:7, in which Samuel is to anoint the next king of Israel after Saul’s disappointing failure. Looking at David’s older brothers (Eliab in this case) Samuel was certain that one of them would be the one.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (NASB)

Our first impressions of people, whether positive or negative, can often be deceitful. I have found this out repeatedly when meeting new people on the college campus here, since often after hastily forming an opinion of a person, I have come to know them better and appreciate them for who they really are.

Here is a short poem that I wrote not long ago that deals with this very topic:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain;
Loveliness blooms for a day.
Don’t ever judge any book by its cover,
Examine its pages one after another:
Know it by what it may say.

“By their fruit you will know them,” the holy book says,
Don’t look at the form, but the heart.
Befriend and discover, love and reveal,
Don’t be afraid to find out what is real.
Appearance is but a small part.

Musical Adventures

As you may or may not be aware, I have begun my time in college as a part of the University Chorale. I am still getting used to the rigidity of choral singing, but I am having a blast and I look forward to the day when it becomes old hat and I don’t have to focus on the mechanics of it all.

Today we started learning a piece that is very unique, to say the least. It’s called “Water Night,” and it is a loose translation of Octavio Paz’s poem “Agua Nocturna” set to music. In case you haven’t read Octavio Paz, he wrote some pretty vague stuff, and Eric Whitacre (the composer) is a “20th Century” composer, as our choral director put it. So the product of these two singular people is this song, which will be quite difficult from what I judge (perhaps more for some parts than others).

The harmony (or shall I say, dissonance?) of the piece is really odd, and jarring to the ears in certain places. One chord is made up of 14 adjacent notes, and were it not for all the pretty voices, my consonance-loving ears might just rebel.

So this is my most recent adventure. The song is not particularly horrible-sounding like some “modern” music, but it will be challenging. Fortunately iTunes had a recording for download, so I got that to listen to to help me along.

Economic & Political Precedents in 17th Century Virginia

As the first English colony established in North America, Virginia in many ways set the example which the rest of the colonies would follow. Although the investors of the joint-stock company who initially funded Virginia’s settlement were disappointed at its seeming failure in finding the things they had hoped for, it soon became apparent that a very valuable crop could be cultivated there, that is, tobacco. With John Rolfe’s discovery of a new method of drying the leaves, much profit was made in growing and selling this crop, and as more southern colonies were developed, they too grew tobacco.

One characteristic of this industry was the need to have large amounts of workers to cultivate the tobacco. With the initiation of the headright system, many people came from Europe as indentured servants. These were to work the land of the one who had paid for their voyage across, and after a certain amount of time (usually 6 to 10 years) they could own land of their own. As it happened, though, about 40% of these servants died before they could complete their indenture, and after many of them were gone, there was a need for additional laborers. As did Virginia, so did many of the other colonies, particularly those in the south.

When Virginia was established as a charter colony, it set a political precedent by basing its government on the will of the people. This was drastically different from Britain’s idea of “virtual representation,” and provided the American people with that taste of liberty that eventually led to independence. Read More