Sunday, October 16, 2005

Art and War

"What stayed with me from that late spring morning in Atlanta is not so much my sense of guilt for failing to fight abortion more boldly. It is not so much my desire to stand with my friends in a good cause, or the unsettling memory of seeing my pastor and close friends roughly packed into a police van. Instead, what has stayed with me is the conviction that America is a battleground. More then ever, I have sensed that boundary lines are being drawn more sharply, that middle ground is rapidly falling away, and that we face the necessity of taking sides. I realized that I had witnessed a major battle in a very real war."

Peter Leithart, The Kingdom and The Power

This from a man who writes much on the arts, literature, and culture from a Christian perspective. How does that fit together?

Why should we build cathedrals when people are starving?
What place has art when babies are being slaughtered?
Is there a place in the Christian worldview for culture in the midst of such war?

Part of me want's to say that they have no part, but part of me wants to say that the pen is mightier then the sword, and the poet more powerful then the politician.

These questions trouble me, but I think some of the answers may lie in Lewis's essay Learning in Wartime, which I've not read in a while, but I remember answering questions like these.


Blogger Amber said...

Even during the persecution and tyranny of the late Roman Empire, early Christians still adorned the walls of the catacombs as best they could.

If anything, I believe that the notable absence of Christian influence in the modern arts brings about a sort of guilt through neglect. Christians in America have for a large part thrown in the towel, separated themselves and begun to forge an exclusive culture, and the world has become a little more callous and despairing. We tell the world that abortion is evil, but they can't see past our self-satisfied cheesy t-shirts and second-rate music...and I don't blame them. We are the light of the world: who has shone brighter, Dostoevsky or any of our Christian-audience writers?

10/17/2005 8:48 AM  
Blogger Stejahen said...

Good thoughts.

True, we take evil lightly by treating it like it can be fixed by T-shirts and bumper stickers, or pretend it doesn't exist by "painting the world without the fall" as Kinkade does; or attempting to make G rated movies about an X rated world.

10/17/2005 12:24 PM  
Blogger OMWO said...

There is a place for everything in the world. I am an atheist and I am probably opposed to much that you believe in, yet I can still appreciate your blog, for instance - by bits and pieces, if need be. :)Demanding absolutes in this world is the philosophical equivalent of carpet bombing.

If you had decided not to build cathedrals or paint pictures while there was hunger in the world, you still probably would have a world full of hunger, only it would furthermore be devoid of cathedrals and paintings.

Also, don't you find it strange that when we hear this argument, it is allways:

"We should not waste money on cathedrals" and never "we should not waste money on football stadiums"


"we should not waste money on space exploration" and never "we should not waste money on telecommunications satellites (for sport TV of course)"

Some people are just naturally afraid of science and art, for some reason. The rest is mostly excuses.
Let them first cancel the NBA/footbal championship/Nascar and then we'll talk about that pesky michelangelo.

11/12/2005 7:27 AM  
Blogger Stejahen said...

Omwo, thank you for your thoughtful comments. That's a good point, many people thrive on things like sports or games, while veiwing art as wastful or un-neccesary.

I agree with you about catherdrals and paintings and a world full of hunger, I'm just trying to work out in my head how the two fit together, and I'm still not sure. I know that art is a great good and shouldn't be neglected, and I know that we should try to end hunger, but I'm not sure as to how to do both. I'm sure there is a way though.

11/12/2005 11:27 PM  

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