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News

Street crack-sealing project begins Monday, May 4

The City of Los Altos is beginning a city-wide street crack-sealing project on Monday (May 4).

City officials said the traffic impact for this project will be minimal. No streets will be closed and vehicles can resume normal traffic flow shortly aft...

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Schools

Homestead students use projects  to solve environmental problems

Homestead students use projects to solve environmental problems


Alisha Parikh/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School junior Maya Dhar, a Los Altos resident, left, and classmate Carolyn MacDonald support the school’s AP Environmental Science classes at the Arbor Day Festival April 23.

As summer app...

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Community

CHAC appoints new leader

CHAC appoints new leader

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, LCSW, has been named the new executive director of the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). A seasoned nonprofit leader, Nakano-Matsumoto is scheduled to assume duties July 1. She takes over for outgoing executive direct...

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Sports

St. Francis swimmers shine

St. Francis swimmers shine


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Benjamin Ho competes against Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday. The junior swam on all three victorious relays at the home meet, which the Lancers won easily.

Flexing its power in the pool, host St....

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Comment

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices


Many contributing supporters to the Friends of Historic Redwood Grove believe that the Halsey House, designated a historic landmark by the Los Altos City Council in 1981, deserves to be saved and renovated for adapted use by the community.

Set in ...

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Special Sections

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal


Elliott Burr/Special to the Town Crier
A stealthy photographer scouts locations ahead of time to find not just a place to perch, but also the ideal position for the subjects.

It’s showtime.

You’re about to ask the person in front of...

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Business

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pharmaca is coming to 400 Main St. with a grand-opening celebration scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

If natural health and beauty products are your cup of tea, expect to find them – and hot tea – this weekend at the gran...

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Books

People

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

October 30, 1924 - April 8, 2015

Jane Butterfield Pringle Lynd, daughter to Liebert and Elise Butterfield of San Francisco, passed away quietly at her home in Palo Alto surrounded by her family, following a short illness. Jane was a proud third ge...

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The Pear Avenue Theatre production of Paul Braverman’s “Birds of a Feather” stars Troy Johnson as mafia boss Sean Kineen, left, and Diane Tasca as private eye Frankie Payne.

Pear Avenue Theatre’s world premi...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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Stanford scholar examines commercialization of Christian rock

Based on his study of the booming Christian music industry, a Stanford University professor determined that the commercialization of Christian rock might be undermining its spiritual purpose.

Every Sunday around the country, pastors use Christian-themed rock music to engage their parishioners. Sounding much like standard top-40 pop-music fare, these scripture-based tunes are also becoming more popular on the radio and with consumers.

However, as popular Christian worship music gains a larger audience, Ari Kelman, associate professor of education at Stanford, has uncovered a surprising paradox: The very musicians, songwriters and music producers who create the music are increasingly sensitive to the relationship between rock music and worship.

Kelman, director of a new doctoral program in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education that integrates education and Jewish studies, found that evangelical musicians, like any other musical artists, aim to make the very best music they can. They hope their music will “at best, lead people in prayer, and at least, not mislead them,” he said.

The secularization of religious music

But it is this decidedly secular approach to music production that causes industry professionals who produce spiritual music to question the role that worship songs have assumed in the church.

Through the course of his research, Kelman learned that these specialized musicians feel they are embracing a secular culture that threatens to undermine the “prayerful purpose” of the music.

Kelman, whose current research focuses on the intersection of religion and pop culture, interviewed more than 75 songwriters, worship leaders and music producers and participated in numerous workshops and conferences on worship music.

Songwriters and performers “ultimately hope that the sacred purpose will trump the music’s secular origins,” he said. “The music ends up echoing with both sacred and secular overtones – one never trumps the other.”

But Kelman quotes Martin Smith, lead singer and primary songwriter of the Christian rock band Delirious, as saying, “As the genre of worship music developed into something more popular, it lost focus. We’ve become too song focused and, in truth, we need to become more worship focused.”

Kelman points to Bob Kauflin, a longtime Christian songwriter and teacher, as an example of someone who creates worship music yet is fully aware of the power of worship music to derail spiritual aims.

According to Kauflin, music is a gift from God to deepen and develop the relationship with Him.

However, when the song “becomes an idol … when the performer becomes the mediator … when people can’t worship God unless the music sounds a certain way, when they can’t worship God unless they sing these certain songs,” then the songwriters “have messed it up,” he added.

Kelman underscored the powerful role that musicians and music producers assume in faith practices.

“If people sing their faith, then those who write, perform and produce this music” become central to worship performance and practice, he said.

Worship songs, Kelman noted, seek to model a “heavenly version of prayer” derived from Christian scripture. They attempt to deliver theology while leading the audience through a performance by listening and singing along to a scriptural message.

Exploring the music, prayer connection

Kelman said he first envisioned his project as a reflection on what “the connection was between music and prayer, and the feeling of transcendence or powerful presence that music often evoked” in him.

Kelman, who is Jewish, grew up attending synagogue, where he first encountered music in a religious setting. However, he described the experience as less inspiring than attending rock concerts, where “often great, inspiring and uplifting things” happened.

Kelman developed an interest in worship music through his research on synagogues. He discovered that when he asked Jewish people about their music, they would often reply, “It’s spiritual” or “It’s so meaningful.”

However, personally, the music didn’t impress Kelman as “particularly interesting or innovative.” So he began thinking, “Who in the world is asking questions about music and spirituality in sophisticated ways?” This, Kelman explained, “led me to church.”

Kelman did not set out to debunk any widely held myths about evangelical culture. However, he encountered some, nonetheless.

“Lots of people have said to me, ‘Oh, you must have to listen to such terrible music,’” he said.

But he maintains that “much of the music is really good.”

Kelman’s research on evangelical worship music culture will be presented in his forthcoming book, tentatively titled “Shout to the Lord: Music and Worship in Evangelical America.”

Ashley Walters is a doctoral student in Jewish history at Stanford University. For more information on the humanities at Stanford, visit humanexperience.stanford.edu.

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