A Brief History of Small-Group Bible Study By Anthony Freddura

Today, Christians of all denominations enjoy participating in small-group bible study in addition to attending services at a larger church. Many who participate in such groups see them as forums for building close relationships within the church, and ways to help further their understanding of scriptural teachings.

Biblical accounts of characters such as Noah, Moses, and Jesus suggest a valuation of small-group fellowship, however small groups had a very different function in Early Christianity than they do today. In the earliest days of Christianity, worship groups had to be small because there were few (if any) dedicated buildings for worship. This meant believers had to hold services in existing houses or other spaces.

Much later, as the Protestant reformation began to brew during the 17th century, reformers (including John Calvin and Martin Luther) urged their followers to meet in small groups outside the established churches, which many viewed as spiritually corrupt.

Today, however, it is simply a great chance to build relationships in the church, and to learn about the theology and beliefs that make up your faith.

About Anthony Freddura

An active parishioner of the Grace Chapel congregation in Lexington, Massachusetts, Anthony Freddura participates in the church’s musical performances as well as its bible study groups. In addition to his private worship activities, Freddura lends his time to community outreach efforts that support less-fortunate community members.

The Role of a Business Systems Analyst By Anthony Freddura

In today’s business world, a business systems analyst combines a working knowledge of information technology principles and of business processes to ensure that a business runs smoothly and efficiently as possible in all departments. The role requires that the analyst take the needs of employees, clients, company stakeholders or shareholders, and the market all into consideration.

Among a business systems analyst’s many responsibilities are the following:

– ‘Big-picture planning’: Basically, ensuring that a company stays on track to meeting its stated goals. An analyst looks for problems, or things that might be potential problems, in systems and technology. Inefficient data storage, for example, could hamper a business’s future growth.
Examination of policies and processes: Here, the analyst looks at the intricate systems that govern how each aspect of a business runs. All of the departments of a business should store data in the same way, and if they do not, the business might not be running as efficiently as it could.
Design of improved policies and processes: After identifying limiting behaviors, the analyst suggests more efficient systems, like a unified data management system.

About Anthony Freddura:

Anthony Freddura has been working in business systems, IT, and quality analysis roles since 1995. Today, Freddura serves as a senior-level Business Systems Analyst with Waltham, Massachusetts-based MultiPlan, Inc.

A Quick Look at Church Music

Anthony Freddura, a senior systems business analyst for the Massachusetts health care cost-management company MultiPlan, Inc., not only leads multiple strategic initiatives but is instrumental in the development of those initiatives’ documentation, a critical but often overlooked aspect of digital business solutions. A graduate of Massachusetts’ Stonehill College, he has worked for such firms as Brown Brothers Harriman, Fidelity Investments, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Genentech, and Iron Mountain. Anthony Freddura enjoys a broad range of interests outside the office and enthusiastically participates in the music ministry of the Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Although little is known about the music at the time of Christ, evidence suggests it was simple, presented as a single melody, sometimes accompanied by a drum. After Jesus’ time and the development of Christianity into a power in Europe, most music was developed for the church and was meant to complement Jesus’ message and the church’s teachings.

Musical expression developed over time and became more sophisticated, while retaining its melodic simplicity. A good example of this is the famous chants of the Gregorian monks. Another major development, which came about in the mid-1100s, was polyphony, or the simultaneous playing of two separate melodies. This style of music can be traced to a single composer, a Frenchman named Leonin, who worked for the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

While modern congregations might consider polyphony staid or quaint, it aroused a great deal of controversy in its time. Many objected, insisting that the new approach placed more importance on the music than on the underlying Christian message. Polyphony was too flashy, they said, and the controversy continued for hundreds of years. In his blog, Anthony Freddura points out an interesting parallel between Leonin’s invention and the more recent adoption by Christian congregations of rock music. This experimentation with rock music as a way of appealing to younger congregants met with controversy and outright hostility from some, but gained general acceptance in far less than the hundreds of years it took for the controversy surrounding polyphony to diminish.

Overview of the Grace Chapel, By Anthony Freddura

A non-denominational church, Grace Chapel has campuses in Lexington and Wilmington, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1948, when its total congregation was only a few households. Today, approximately 3,000 people go to Grace Chapel each Sunday.

The Grace Chapel puts forward several beliefs. For example, it believes that the Bible holds the highest authority in all matters concerning Christian faith and practice. It also believes that God created all people and that people have alienated themselves from God, and it is now time to reconcile.

An active part of the Greater Boston community, Grace Chapel provides numerous programs aimed at helping others. It offers financial counseling, and it played an integral part in the development of the church partnership network, Greater Things for Greater Boston. On a global scale, the church also conducts several mission trips each year.

About Anthony Freddura: Mr. Freddura participates in many of the volunteer programs offered by Grace Chapel, including the monthly SoulFood program, which supplies food and clothes to underserved members of the Boston community.

Christian Music Through the Ages

by Anthony Freddura

I participate in the Life Community Through Worship program run by Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts. In addition to traditional Bible study, we engage in music making, performing timeless songs by well-known Christian musicians. Since the dawn of their religion, Christians have employed music in their worship, and many of the world’s most longstanding musical styles evolved in a Christian context.

Historians don’t know much about the music of the first Christians, but there are references to music in three of the four Gospels. Most likely, early Christian music resembled the music of the ancient Greeks, of which we have a few surviving examples; and the music of the Jews, Romans, and other groups from the area. The fact that many Church hymns have roots in the Old Testament Psalms lends credence to this theory. By the sixth century A.D., Christianity had developed its own distinct styles of singing, forming in Western Europe the roots of what we know today as soothing Gregorian chant. Complementary types of chant also appeared in Eastern Christian traditions. Sung as part of Church services, Gregorian chant continued to evolve for centuries.

In the middle of the 1100s, a French composer named Leonin, working for the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, invented what would later evolve into harmony. Before that time, music always consisted of a melody only, perhaps accompanied by drums. After Leonin, musicians quickly began stacking melodies on top of each other, but harmony (or more correctly, polyphony) is a Christian invention, created for worship. Not everyone loved harmony right away. As with rock music in the 1950s and 1960s, many Christians of the time felt the new style was too flashy and didn’t respect the Christian message behind the words. This controversy continued until the Renaissance, when an Italian composer named Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina developed an intricate harmonic style of composition that won over the Church, which deemed the music beautiful and Christian. Church choirs still sing his music today.

Other European composers continued to advance Christian music over the subsequent ages, including J.S. Bach, considered by many the greatest composer to have ever lived. However, other musical traditions began to have an effect on Christian music as well. Spirituals, invented by African-American slaves, played a major role in the development of what would become Gospel, Soul, and Rhythm & Blues in the United States. At first confined to African-American churches, these new styles gained increasingly mainstream acceptance from the 1960s onward. Today, Christian music encompasses everything from the diverse traditions of the European masters to the lively styles developed in America and around the world.

Top San Francisco Restaurants

by Anthony Freddura

Chez Panisse pizza

I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area from 2000 to 2007 while working as a Business Systems Analyst for Genentech, a biotechnology company. While residing in the region, I enjoyed the opportunity to try some of the best restaurants in the country. I recently looked at the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine’s Top 100 Restaurants list to see which eateries and fine dining establishments now appear in the rankings.

If you visit the Bay Area, I recommend that you try these five restaurants.

1. Chez Panisse (Berkeley):

Included among the Top 100 since 2001, Alice Waters founded the dining establishment in 1971. The downstairs comprises a formal restaurant whose menu changes daily and the upstairs accommodates a café. Specializing in fresh, organic cuisine, Alice Waters focused on this philosophy long before the general public became aware of the idea. Chefs Jean-Pierre Moulle and David Tanis each spend six months of the year overseeing the renowned kitchen, which specializes in California-Mediterranean cuisine.

2. Flour + Water (San Francisco):

The establishment received a nomination for a James Beard Best New Restaurant of 2010 Award. Specializing in Italian fare, including wood-fired pizzas and a warm lamb’s tongue salad with poached egg, Chef Thomas McNaughton changes the menu on a daily basis. The acclaimed eatery offers entrees ranging in price from $15 to $23.

3. Yank Sing (San Francisco):

Located in the world-famous Chinatown, this restaurant ranks among the city’s best for Chinese cuisine. Renowned for its dim sum and Peking duck, this establishment offers more than 80 items on the carts that circle the dining room. The Chronicle mentioned that Yank Sing costs more than some similar eateries, but the food quality also remains higher.

4. Hog Island Oyster Co. (San Francisco):

Located in the Ferry Building, the establishment serves seafood enthusiasts in the Bay Area and ships first-quality oysters to restaurants around the United States. Served on ice, oysters arrive at the table in sets of 6 or 12 and cost as much as $30. The menu also includes salads and other types of seafood and visitors can watch the ferries come in from the dining room.

5. The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton (San Francisco):

For diners seeking French cuisine, this restaurant does not disappoint. The chef combines French and Japanese influences to create exquisite dishes featuring fish and other seafood. In addition to the appealing menu, patrons enjoy fantastic service. The prix fixe offerings range in price from $74 to $120.

 

My Favorite Books: The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals & One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Anthony Freddura relishes in the opportunity to read a good book. Some of his all time favorites include The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, published in 2006, was written by Michael Pollan. Investigating the foods that make up the average omnivore’s diet, Pollan addressed each of the food chains that create modern diets, including organic food, industrial food, and food that is foraged by individuals.

In his novel, Michael Pollan revealed that much of industrial food is made from corn, which is fed to livestock, processed into sugars, or eaten directly. A main focus of the book, Pollan provides the reader with compelling evidence of our corn-dependent society. The Omnivore’s Dilemma also investigates organic farming, stating finally, we “eat by the grace of nature, not industry.” The Omnivore’s Dilemma enjoyed acclaim and created controversy as well, the secret recipe to any successful publication.

Alternatively, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest represents a very different kind of book. Written by Ken Kesey, an iconic writing figure of the 1960’s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest delved into the inner workings of the human mind and the strange realities of the institutional asylum process. Later turned into a film, which won five Academy Awards, the novel has gathered heavy acclaim since its publication, and remains a classic piece of 1960s literature.

Other books by Ken Kesey include Sometimes a Great Notion, Caverns, Sailor Song, and Last Go Round, a novel co-written by Kevin Babbs.