Wednesday, June 01, 2005

More on Art: Shadows of Glory

Continuing the strand about art, faith, and creativity. We’ve had good comments about the very nature of art – what it is. If art is simply an eruption of self-expression, then anything goes – art is what we can get away with. But if art is something that points us to something grander and beyond ourselves, then it is something quite different. This, I think, is how I’m going to approach the Rubens project – Rubens, in all his sensuality, depicts an energy, a larger than life quality in almost all his work. I suggest that his work ultimately radiates glory and vitality. This glory and vitality is what stirs us and grips us – and it is up to us as Christians to then point viewers to the God of glory and wonder and majesty. No matter how majestic and exuberant the paintings of Rubens, they have nothing on the Creator who fashioned the world with wisdom and delight:

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works, before his deeds of old: I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began….I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Proverbs 8:22-31). Now THAT is glory – and Rubens gives us a foretaste of that.

Along these lines, Scott Collins-Jones, on his blog, tells a story a wedding he attended: “The wedding began with a welcome and call to worship issued by my wife Fairlight. She began her greeting this way: "Welcome to the rehearsal." She explained that many expected to attend a wedding today, this was really only a rehearsal for the ultimate wedding and the ultimate feast, the marriage supper of the lamb.” He contrasts this sense of pointing to an ultimate destination with the rootless wandering of “relos” (families who relocate every three years in the pursuit of ever better jobs and more stuff). He goes on to say: “What I encountered at the wedding and in the Times article about relos was longing. Perhaps in a culture of "relos" one of the most profound ways we can bear witness to Christ and his Kingdom is by what we long for and how we long for it, letting our longings shape and direct our lives.”

It’s the foretaste of glory – the foretaste of the fullness of the beauty of God. Our being made in the image of God is also being made as a creative being (which came out in many of the comments to that first post) – but as a created being, we can only create things that point us to the Creator. Truly good art doesn’t just excel technically, it also gives us something of the fragrance of the fields of heaven.

Soli Deo Gloria