Angelo Dunlap is a music teacher, “an American of brown skin,” and a recent convert to Judaism.
In the last 30 years, a rising number of Americans have abandoned organized religion. Data from the most recent CIRP Freshman Survey found that 31-percent of this year’s college freshman identify as having no religious affiliation. According to a 2016 Pew Research study, 78-percent of “Nones” (those who claim no religious affiliation) were raised as members of religions and chose to walk away.
Some leave because they simply don’t believe. Some dislike the politics of organized religion. Others mention “science” as their motivation.
Some, like Angelo Dunlap, simply had crises of faith after suffering rejection from their spiritual communities. As a gay man of color who had been told again and again that he didn’t belong in religious communities – and who had suffered rejection from his family of origin because of his sexual orientation – Angelo had every reason to walk away. But after seven years, Angelo not only found a way back to religion, he converted to a new one and went “all in.”
The music brought him back.
“Music is my transport back to God. Music saved me,” he said. “It can affect how we feel, how our memories feel. The echoes of God can be heard in it.”
Music helped him deal with all the conflicting emotions caused by his fractured identity: teacher, newly converted Jew, musician, gay man, man of color. After living in so many pieces, music helped him get centered, find his moral standing, and find his bearings.
“More and more, I forget that I’m something different in any particular setting. I think of myself, as I am, in the environment I’m in, and that feels good to me,” he said.
Now at 30, Angelo looks at a complex journey through his third decade. He wishes he could whisper in the ear of his 20-year-old self, filled with doubt and fear, and say, “It gets better. Don’t be the curator of your own hell. No good comes from the negative thinking. Focus on what helps you and helps others.”
Interact with Angelo Dunlap:
Pew Research Study
“Why America’s Nones left religion behind” by Michael Lipka. August 24, 2016.
Piano Tuning Kit
This kit from Amazon is a good place to start.
Videos on Piano Tuning are available on YouTube.
“Red Queen” and “Glass Sword”
Young adult literature by Victoria Aveyard
Available from booksellers everywhere.
Original cello music.
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