CMP Review 2023-05-04

CMP Review 2023-05-04

May 4, 2023

We recently completed our term’s study of Mozart. I was deeply moved as we watched a recorded performance of the Mass in C minor, one of the greatest human compositions. My eye lingered first on the conductor, his gray hair signifying his wisdom and experience, qualifying him to interpret this masterpiece. My eye roamed across the faces of the performers, none appearing many years younger than the venerable conductor. The camera occasionally showed the audience, and I saw people like me. The message seemed clear: age is a prerequisite to understand and appreciate Mozart.

Then my mind played a trick on me as I imagined the composer entering the theater. He wrote the mass when he was 26 years old. He would have been the youngest man in the theater. Would the ushers have shooed him away? Would the conductor have given him a second look? Would any of the musicians have consented to be led by someone not much older than a child?

None of it made sense. A 26-year-old cannot appreciate the Mass in C minor. But a 26-year-old wrote it.

On Sunday I met a 26-year-old who was wrapping up his theology degree. His special focus is on Paul’s use of the Old Testament, so I asked him about the New Perspective. He mentioned a book by Markus Bockmuehl, which I own, and a few authors that I didn’t recognize. Then I asked myself what I was doing. This man is just a child, I thought. What does he have to teach me about theology?

Then I remembered a verse I had memorized decades ago: 1 Timothy 4:12. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.” I thought about Mozart composing for a conductor twice his age. I thought about music appreciation with my son who is 15. And I thought about this young theologian. At least I will never forget his name: it’s Timothy.