Amerika VIII, is a 1986-87 artwork by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (Kids of Survival). Rollins worked with various teenagers from the South Bronx as collaborators from 1982 until his death in 2017. The group would read books together and then make art together in response. The background of this piece consists of pages from Franz Kafka's book Amerika. The protagonist of the book has an encounter with women dressed as angels playing golden trumpets. The artists responded by creating an image of various trumpet-like forms on top of the grid of text. Rollins has said of the work that it is, "unified and chaotic, elegant and furious."

Tim Rollins, K.O.S. (Kids of Survival)

Messiaen’s commentary for XIII. Noël (Christmas)

“Carillon – the bells of Christmas say with us the sweet names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph …”

Bells and trumpets, pianos and books; how can these things help prepare our hearts when they seem chaotic? These two works remind me of a story by Annie Dillard that I will paraphrase:

Dillard had fled Evangelical Churches in the 80s to attend Catholic Mass because of the honor and reverence of the worship and liturgy. Yet, even in the highly choreographed liturgical setting, there were mistakes. Throats were hoarse, instruments were out of tune, nothing was perfect – no matter the amount of practice.

Dillard wondered, how is it that even when we set aside only an hour or two a week for worship we can never get it "right?" How can we still be so bad at praising God? She wonders: why doesn’t God smite us every Sunday morning?

She is highlighting the entire human condition by honing in on this one imperfection. We cannot do anything perfectly. We can only do things as humans do, the best we can.

The trumpets and the songs will never be perfectly formed, and yet God still came. We will never be able to receive Jesus well, we will always be "costumed" as angels and our trumpets will be imperfect.

In my view, we should love the imperfections. Christ loves them after all. Perhaps perfect praise, perfect preparation, is not to be sought this side of Paradise.