Thursday, August 26, 2010


"Non-Christian" Art?

Tony Reinke writes at length about the appreciation of art when it is created by a non-Christian (HT:Justin Taylor):
It seems to me that until we are open to this idea that God delights in the display of beautiful art by the non-Christian, we will find it difficult to glorify God through the art we see. This is specially true in the artisans who are not Christians, who bear the marks of their Creator while remaining under the guilt of their sin, and who are in desperate need of a Savior.
I agree, but there is a key word in that concluding paragraph that needs desperate addressing - "BEAUTIFUL."

Much that is sold to us as art today is deliberately ugly. It is designed to offend. Reinke's entire argument is based onthat fact that a non-Christian is still made in God's image, and I agree, and therefore what that artist produces can still reflect some of God;s glory - a fact that I also agree with. However, that being said - some artists set out intentionally to create art that spits in the face of God - art not just not intended to glorify God, but deliberately designed to "unglorify" God - as if that were possible.

Reinke offhands this issue:
Let me add one important qualification before we get to the question. In this short blog post I cannot begin to define what constitutes “true” art, and what does not. Obviously by “art” I do not mean art that seeks to glorify evil (i.e. pornography). Without going into the whole structure of beauty, that would be another post altogether, I am referring to good-natured beauty, the kind of beauty displayed in the riff of a skilled jazz band, or in the brush strokes of a 17th century French painter, or in the heart-exposing prose of a 19th century Russian novelist. To some degree I think this all qualifies as art. For the sake of brevity I am assuming that we are talking about “good-natured art.”
That's terrible because it is the crux of the question. As we have this stuff foisted upon us as "art" we lose our sense of what is, and what is not, beauty.

Unless we address the question of what is beautiful - the nature of who made it is an irrelevancy.

Which brings me to my final point. Christians are part of the problem here. I blog a lot here about people with special needs - and I take great exception to churches and even denominations that withhold the sacrament from such individuals becasue they cannot intellectually form a confession. Oh but they can appreciate beauty.

How do we allow God to touch us at the deepest levels? How to we move from believe to life transformation? we cannot "think" our way to a sanctified state. Nope beauty transforms us. Hence we MUST learn to figure out what is and what is not beautiful. As we have seen it has little to do with the art's creator.

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