From the earliest times, mankind has found self-expression in the arts. On a practical level, we see creativity in our bridges, buildings, and skyscrapers. These are often the result of beautifully envisioned and highly imaginative architectural efforts. But it is in the “pure arts” that we are offered a vehicle for our reflections on truth – reflections on our shared human condition.
The decorative arts are a celebration of color and form. But it is particularly the pure arts which present us with narratives. They tell us stories which attempt to elicit an emotional response.
These pure arts, such as painting, literature, music, drama and, more recently, film, serve no practical purpose. And though they are often viewed simply as entertainment, the arts remain, in reality, narratives of God-created life with a God-intended purpose. Art touches our souls in some way, whether we consider it as simple entertainment or not.
All of humanity is made in God’s image. Whether or not it is acknowledged, our most basic need is reconciliation with our Creator – our soul deep need for redemption. But contemplation of this shared human dilemma seems to have completely fallen off the radar of contemporary art.
This was not the case throughout the history of art. When viewing past art, any student of art history can clearly see its moral vantage point. We may find representations of God-created beauty, ideals in human relationship, good versus evil and, often, the interaction with the Divine. This moral vantage point, simply stated, is “Truth,” the gift of the Holy Spirit.
But the art of our current culture now yields contemplations of sensational, violent, carnal narratives with little, if any, “moral to the story.” A moral sea change has resulted in the devolution of art – art which now reflects a rudderless culture, adrift at sea. Without truth presented, those seeking art are starved on a diet of junk food. Bad art.
True, God appears in recent pseudo-art, but, unfortunately, only as His name is taken in vain. Love and romantic relationship is often depicted as transitory, where partners change frequently as they “grow apart.” Marital commitment is near obsolete. The God-ordained struggle of good against evil shows us relative “goods” and relative “evils.” No absolutes are allowed in the new aesthetic where art is centered in self-obsession and its best friend, self-gratification. “Whatever floats your boat” is the new ethos.
Evil thrives on the spiritual dead ends of fallen man, such as bad art. Believers must seriously consider how we engage in the art which our culture presents to us.
Whenever art abandons the ideals of our faith it begins to descend into a void of meaninglessness – a black hole which is the very home of separation from God.
Thanks, Jeremiah, great read as always!
Thanks for your kind words, Steve. Blessings!