You Can’t Experience Beauty Without God with Jenny Jee-El Park

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At a Glance

How can music shape the way we see the world? How can a passion for the arts connect to a passion for God? We talk this week with special guest Jenny Jee-El Park to discuss Darrow’s upcoming book, A Call for Balladeers. As a professional musician, Jenny’s love and knowledge of music provide the lens through which she understands the world and strengthens her relationship with God. Art helps us connect with God not only intellectually, but also emotionally. Join us to break down the sacred/secular divide and find love and connection in a place you may not expect.

To find out more about A Call for Balladeers and discover the relationship between beauty and worship, listen to our “A Call for Balladeers” podcast episode.

What You'll Hear

Chapter 1: Jenny Jee-El Park (1:15)

  • Jenny is a professional musician and director of Music Across Borders.
  • She is putting on a concert for Darrow’s book A Call for Balladeers.
  • Her passion is to fight for her love of music and God.

Chapter 2: The Gift of Art (13:54)

  • Beauty in art is a gift. Even if it is technically flawless, it needs something more to move the audience, something that God provides.
  • Instead of being concerned about the “success” of a performance, this mindset sees the whole process as a gift.
  • Art is not the stepping stone to reach the goal, it is the goal.


Chapter 3: The World of Sound
(21:36)

  • Music interacts with science and culture and theology.
  • There is a physical realm and a metaphysical realm that science can’t reach.
  • Jenny experiences a relationship with God through music.
  • She sees the world through the lens of musical theory.


Chapter 4: Art in the Church
(44:42)

  • We don’t currently have much of a place for artists to work in the church.
  • The church encounters God intellectually, but not emotionally or physically.
  • We should not be elitist about so-called “lower” expressions of culture and love.
  • Music Across Borders teaches provides theological musical training for those who cannot afford it.

Using the link above, you can read the transcript, listen along, and adjust the speed of the podcast while you listen.

You can perform perfectly but you cannot deliver this thing called beauty, because beauty in its essence is a gift.

Dwight (26:20)

Special Guest

Active in Southern California as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, producer, and arranger, Jenny Jee-El Park received her B.M. in Piano Performance from Manhattan School of Music and M.A. in Music Education from Teachers College of Columbia University. Since her first public recital at the age of 15 in Italy, Ms. Park made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1998 as the Winner of Artists International Special Presentation Award, followed by numerous concerts in Europe, Asia, and throughout North America. In addition, her compositional work, “Lift High the Cross,” was published in 2017 under the Jubal House imprint, and distributed through the Fred Bock Music Company/Hal Leonard companies. She performs with an experimental trio that combines jazz and classical medium as well as a more traditional chamber group called Verismo Ensemble.

Recently appointed by the mayor of her city as the Commissioner of Culture and Fine Arts, Ms. Park works in various settings to promote arts in the community. She has worked at the Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center as a music curriculum consultant, and started a volunteer-based music program for the homeless children at the Orange County Rescue Mission. Formerly a faculty member of the United Nations International School, Concordia Conservatory, and Bethesda University, she is currently the musical director for Music Across Borders.

Go Deeper

 A Call for Balladeers: Pursuing Art and Beauty for the Discipling of Nations

Are you a Christian artist who struggles with being an artist and serving God?
Through a biblical lens, Darrow Miller examines what it means to be a Christian artist and the role of beauty in the world. As the First Artist, God created the universe to be beautiful, and set a precedent for all mankind: to create art, not for religious obligation, but simply for the sake of beauty itself.


With scrutiny and honesty, A Call for Balladeers takes a hard look at the faulty perspective toward art and beauty held by many Christians today and uses the Bible to make a case for why the Church should be concerned with the arts. Miller provides a hopeful, liberating outlook for Christians who find themselves caught in a dilemma between their artistic endeavors and their desire to minister to their community.
 
There is no divide between art, beauty, and the Christian faith. God uses the arts and artists to advance His kingdom of truth, goodness, and beauty on earth as it is in heaven. A Call for Balladeers will help Christians think biblically about art, teach them about historical and modern-day balladeers, and encourage artists to use their God-given talents to minister prophetically, bringing transformation to their communities and nations.

Music Across Borders

Music Across Borders is a national and international leadership network assisting schools, colleges, universities, and churches within diverse socio-economic communities. They partner with local organizations and musicians of all ages to develop educational resources, equip leaders, and create worship arts programs and awareness within local communities.

Wilberforce International Institute

Wilberforce International Institute trains and mentors international students to disciple their home countries, changing the culture to support Christian principles that promote flourishing in the nation. Wilberforce offers long-term mentorship as well as webinars and courses, training students to impact their culture for the kingdom.

Quotes

“When the performance time comes, I just let go, because I’ve done all I can. And so now you offer it up to God… and God has to accept it.” Jenny (16:31)

The whole process is a gift. And I operate within the freedom of being the recipient of that gift, and just trying to be a good steward and enjoy it myself. Music is the reward for me.” Jenny (17:39)

“There is the realm of physical and the metaphysical. The realm of metaphysical is not for the empirical data to enter, no matter how advanced science is… But it’s a mistake to be Platonic about it and just put a hierarchy over it, saying what’s metaphysical is above physical, because we serve an incarnate God. Our job is to enjoy the metaphysical and the physical reality together, and not separating the two or putting it in some sort of a hierarchy.” Jenny (25:03)

“You can perform perfectly but you cannot deliver this thing called beauty because beauty in its essence is a gift.” Dwight, quoting Jenny (26:20)

“Beauty and science are not separated. We think of sciences as being over here, it’s abstract. And over here you have beauty. It’s the heart. It’s the wonder. And in a materialistic framework, we separate these things and cannot conceive of them together. But in a biblical framework, there is a final integration point of all things in God Himself, the creator of the universe, the creator of all this diversity. The final integration point is in him.” Darrow (30:08)

“Even when I studied geometry or algebra, I see the parallels in music. When I look at theological tenets, I see the metaphors directly from the music. And that’s the beauty of everything having a relationship. We are not like one isolated atom, but we’re part of this bigger existence. That to me can be one of the definitions of beauty, like finishing a jigsaw puzzle, and you see the whole picture and it’s all making sense.” Jenny (33:19)

“An encounter with God can’t be just abstract, and mental, and cognitive, because the whole person has to encounter God.” Jenny (48:16)

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