Monday, August 17, 2009


Real Beauty

Justin Taylor was recently writing about books and aesthetics. He quotes an essay by James Spiegel:
The Christian church, once the leader of the arts, is now scarcely taken seriously in artistic communities. Worse yet, the formal worship of Christians is compromised by mediocrity in this area. Our problem, however, is not for lack of inspiration, as the scriptures are brimming with aesthetic instructions, from the Genesis creation account to the hymns of Revelation, not to mention the nature of the Biblical writings themselves. We must recapture a truly Christian vision for the arts, and strive mightily to be aesthetically virtuous. The duties of the church pertain not only to goodness but to beauty as well.
I agree with the artistic evaluation, but think the way that is written is part of the problem. It seems like we always leave it up to theologians or pastors to comes up with "a truly Christian vision for the arts." Seems to me something like that should be up to, oh I don't know, an artist.

I love old Soviet kitsch. When I was in the Soviet Union, the stuff was everywhere, and it was awful in a "bad taste" appealing sort of way. Almost comical. When I returned to Russia decades later, it was largely gone - a few left as a curiosity, and an object lesson.

Russia is still trying to find a way to make real art again, since the USSR pretty well killed any artist that did not make the kitsch - but at least now the possibility exists. I think the church has the same problem. We seems to kill of the "artists" that do not make stuff that fits our "Christian" specifications.

But being a Christian is about changing us, which in turn changes what we do, meaning that what we do will therefore be "Christian." So I don't think we need a "a truly Christian vision for the arts," I think we need Christian artists, and we need to give them the freedom to be who God has created them to be.

In fact, I think that would work pretty well in most aspects of life.

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