Voting is a civic responsibility of every U.S. citizen of 18 years old or older.

This is the third election I was able to vote in and it was the first major election I was able to vote in. I voted by absentee ballot for the state of Virginia in the Virginia Beach District. This year we voted on one Senate position, a House of Representatives position, two amendments to the state’s constitution, mayor, city counsel members, and school board members.

I voted for the incumbent candidates for the Senate and the House, and mayor, because they have been doing a good job with their careers. They know the state and the communities they represent. They know the needs of the people because they listen to them.

For the City Council members and School Board members I voted for the incumbent candidates as well, except for the district in which I live, the Princess Anne District. I happen to personally know a candidate for Member City Council Princess Anne District and Member School Board Princess Anne District. So I voted for them because I know them. And because it is a comforting thought to have someone I personally know in a public office position.

I did not have to think to hard about who to vote for Senate, House, Mayor, City Council, and School Board. However, I did take a day or two to think about how I wanted to vote on the two amendments to the State’s constitution. This first proposal was “Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property?” I voted yes, because there are ares of Virginia Beach that are prone to floods due to the low elevation and natural swamp of the land. Many small family-owned farms sit on land that is prone to flooding and they should not suffer financially due to circumstance they cannot control when they have take all preventative measures. The second proposal was “Shall the real property tax exemption for a primary residence that is currently provided to the surviving spouses of veterans who had a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be amended to allow the surviving spouse to move to a different primary residence and still claim the exemption?” I voted yes to this amendment as well, because the spouse’s of veterans sacrifice just as much as their spouse, and any compensation for such service to the country should not have limits. If the real property tax is exempted for the veteran and their family then the exemption should remain valid if the surviving spouse moves to a more reasonable place of primary residence.

When it came to voting on the two state constitution amendments, I used emotions as information. Because both of the amendments were on emotional topics, especially since both apply to my life. So what made sense emotionally, I used as my reasoning on how I voted.

Capon’s The Third Peacock

Robert Farrar Capon was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York in 1925 and passed away on September 5, 2013. During his life time he wrote twenty books, including An Offering of Uncles, The Third Peacock, and Hunting the Divine Fox. While being a successful, Capon’s main profession was a full-time Episcopal priest. He devoted his life to theology, to better understand the gospel, and the help others understand his perspectives. The Third Peacock was written to address the question “Why do bad things happen if God is all powerful?”

Capon starts off the book by telling the creation story in a rather interesting way to explain why God made the world. In Capons explanation he plays with the word “being”, which we will come to learn being is the answer to the unanswerable question. The creation story is told as a party with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The three are sitting in unity talking about the Father’s interests in being and how he kept thinking up new ways and things of being. God the Son and God the Holy Spirit put on a show of being for the Father, it was a party with all of creation. The Father delighted in it, and “the delight of God is the deepest root of the being of everything” (Capon p. 178). So, God delights in all creation, then what about evil? God is not off the hook for evil, for “evil exists only for those who believe in God, who made all things out of nothing” (Capon p. 178). There is a difference between bad and evil. Bad is what happens naturally due to creation, whereas evil is the deliberate corruption of being by creatures with free will. The badness of creation cannot be differentiated from the goodness of creation. The badness of creation is because of the nature of the nature God made. “It was God’s fault simply because he made the earth the kind of thing it is” (Capon p. 190). So why does human kind exist? Science cannot answer that, but theology can. We were created to love God, simply because we are attracted to him. All God has done is simply be himself and we, humans, are drawn to him because of his love for us. The idea of God just being God is easy to accept, because God is God. But, when we say Jesus is both God and human we get uncomfortable, for who can he be man and God at the same time? Well, he just simply is. There is no explanation, we just must accept it. The paradox is beautiful and wonderful. Back to God being God, we live in time, he does not. He sees the bigger picture, we only see one small piece of the puzzle. We see the badness of creation and find it aesthetically unacceptable, God sees the badness of creation as how he created it to be. So, it is not what God does but about where his is. He is present in our sufferings and helplessness. Jesus suffered not for us, but with us. It is not about what God does, but the he is here. God is present. His presence is made known by the body of Christ, the church, the people of God, for the Holy Spirit is in us. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” Matthew 18:20 ESV. In times of suffering because of the badness and evil all that can be is to be present, to be the physical presence of God so that his presence may be felt spiritually.

School shooting have become more common in recent years. The one that is most remembers was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. 26 lives were taken that day at the hands of Adam Lanza, who shot his mother that morning before going to the school. December 14, 2012 was a tragic day for the United States. Many people asked why did God let that happen? How could God have let this happen? Why do bad things happen in a world with an all-powerful God? There is no answer to satisfy those questions. Capon’s answer would be ‘it happened because humans were given freedom, the act was done by human intentions, it was not God’s doing, and yet God is still responsible.’ God did not abandon his people, thus allowing the shooting to happen. In fact, it is just the opposite, God’s presence is even stronger after the shooting, because his people came together in the time of suffering to be there for each other. Building 429 did just that. The contemporary Christian band performed a benefit concert for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hooks shooting. In a devotional by the members of Building 429 on the YouVersion Bible app, they talk about the benefits concert they did for the Sandy Hook shooting. The concert was able to comfort the victims and community simply by the gathering of people for the same purpose. There is power in numbers. At the benefit concert, Building 429 performed their song We Won’t Be Shaken and it moved the crowd, it strengthened the community and support was felt. The chorus of the song goes “Whatever will come our way. Through fire or pouring rain. No, we won’t be shaken. No, we won’t be shaken. Whatever tomorrow brings. Together we’ll rise and sing. That we won’t be shaken. No, we won’t be shaken.” The meaning of the song is that God will always be constant and strong. That no mater what bad and evil things happen in life God will always be there. And that we must remember to trust in him and trust that he is there. This song reminded the crowd that God was there, that he never left. Before the concert the band members were worrying about what they were supposed to say, and more worried about how the crowd would respond. But backstage, the band felt a sense of togetherness and they knew God would show up and all they would have to do is move aside to let God do his thing, and that is to let his presence be known. Once God’s presence was made known, comfort was felt. What Capon talked about in The Third Peacock is relevant want was proved at Building 429’s benefit concert for the Sandy Hook shooting.

J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra performed Bach’s St. John Passion at the Ordway in St. Paul, MN. The Ordway is a beautiful, luxurious building located in downtown St. Paul and hosts a variety of performing arts. The concert hall of the Ordway, where this concert was held, was uniquely designed. Walking into the concert hall, I noticed that stage was not elevated, but the audience was elevated, like an amphitheater. The seating goes all the way around the stage. There are three rows of about 20 behind the stage. The seats we had were behind the stage, but the acoustics were beautiful. We could hear the vocalist and instrumentalist wonderfully even though they were projecting their sound away from us. I believe the wonderful acoustics are due to the design of the ceiling. The ceiling is folded creating a wave appearance. The waves of the ceiling are curved in such a way that allow the sound waves to bounce off and travel behind the stage.

J. S. Bach composed a passion for each of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The passions are inspired directly from the gospels and bring the gospel to life through music as a form of worship. Worshiping through music has been valued by the church since the beginning, and even in the bible, “All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name” Psalm 66:4. Bach, like Luther, turned bible passages into hymns. Bach did Luther one steep farther by turning each gospel into a passion. As the composer, Bach was able to set the tone for each movement in the passion. He was able to set the tone for how the story of Jesus’ crucifixion was told. He was able to tell the story how he understood and interpreted it in away that others might be able to learn from as well.

The performance was just as beautiful as the concert hall. The performers, both vocal and instrumental, brought the music to life. They did not just play or sing the notes but gave the notes character. The music had emotion from the mix of dynamics, tone, rhythm. The performers performed the music. The solo vocalist became their character through body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. The Evangelist especially, the narrative role, set the tone and emotion for each movement. He was able to take emotion Bach had felt for the gospel of John and had composed into the passion and bring it to life, thus enabling the audience to feel the same emotions about the gospel of John as Bach did.