Posted by: Dr Churchill | November 12, 2014

Divan Music for the Divine in You – Best Method to Reach Peace and Understanding

This Summer, while bombs where falling in Gaza blowing up homes, people, and children, and turning lives to smitherens — a remarkable group of young musicians including several Palestinian ones, were in London to give classical music performances which included Beethoven’s symphonies; as part of this year’s promenade season.

The West-Eastern Divan youth orchestra is a youth orchestra based in Seville, Spain, consisting of musicians from countries in the Middle East. Young musicians from Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, and Spanish backgrounds, coming together to speak the universal language of Love: Music. And they\ve chosen to play classic tracts that define the world around us as the best examples of our achievments in culture and civilization.

The Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said co-founded the orchestra in 1999, with the intention of promoting understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, and paving the way for a peaceful and fair solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Barenboim explains: “The Divan is not a love story, and it is not a peace story. It has very flatteringly been described as a project for Peace. It isn’t. It’s not going to bring peace, whether you play well or not so well. The Divan was conceived as a project against ignorance: a project against the fact that it is absolutely essential for people to get to know each other, to understand what the other thinks and feels, without necessarily agreeing with it.”

The London performances included Beethoven’s ninth Symphony which is best known perhaps for the great hymn “Ode to Joy” which is a celebration of the brotherhood of Man and of the Unity of all mankind, and thus echoes the hopes and ambitions of the founders of the orchestra. The “Ode To Joy” as written by Beethoven, urges humankind to come together to enjoy the wonder and beauty of the world. We are urged to live as brothers aware of the divine reality that stands over all human efforts, while enjoying the fruits of creation.

The existence of this orchestra and the music it plays represent a dream, a hope, an instinct, that lurks in all of us. An all too human instinct for a just and peaceful world. As we watch the news we are appalled at the terrible suffering being inflicted on so many innocent people in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, as in so many other places of conflict, and tend to feel helpless in doing anything about it.

An Old Testament reading conveys the awfulness of human loss and grief, in war often waged in anger, a consequence of human madness. As a father, King David, laments the death of his son in battle: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” And yet so many children lost as non combatant collateral damage of wars claiming civilian lives — are never mourned by anyone. Let alone a king or a father, because in many instances of indiscriminate aerial bombardment — whole families are blown apart and the fathers lay amongst the dead.

So who is left to mourn whom?

It falls upon us to do just that. And one of the Divan musicians described the orchestra “as a human laboratory that can express to the whole world how to cope with the other” which is what the Christian community is supposed to do, but so often fails.

St Paul’s letter tells us what is required: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.

Put away all bitterness and wrath, anger and wrangling, slander and malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as the Earth, or the bountiful God, or your loving Father and Mother, has forgiven you for all of your trespasses.



Sadly am a realist, in that I know that no one person however brilliant or well intentioned can bring peace and healing to a troubled and divided world.

What I also do know however, is that one can make a huge difference in the World.

Starting by being the Change we want to see in the world and in others and by embodying that change and sharing the message within our own sphere of influence is a great beginning.

And actually this is what counts in the end.

And that little thing [huge really] presents all of us with a great Life Opportunity and a Reasonable Challenge.

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