As its starting point a Christian worldview takes certain ideas about the nature of God and of the created world. Much hinges on whether a person believes the material world has order and meaning. Christians deny that the creation has ultimate meaning, of course, but believe that the material world is real and has value in and of itself. Confidence that this view is correct rests on the Incarnation, the coming of God as man in Christ Jesus. God the Sonbecame flesh and lived in this world of matter, thus positively reinforcing the idea that the material world is a proper,meaningful area to enjoy, explore and develop. A Christian mindset must challenge the ancient suspicion of the goodness of physical matter, the tendency to deny its value. “A proper doctrine of creation reminds us that we are not disembodied spirits or intellects, but unities of spirit and matter inhabiting a physical world with which we are intimately bound up and have a large measure of continuity, and that part of what it means to be human is to interact thoroughly with this non-human reality” (Begby 70). Art works out of a sense of embeddedness in creation. Hence art is an engagement with the physical world involving the senses as much as the mental and emotional faculties. In a Christian worldview art is rooted in substance, e.g. in the movement of the human body or the vibrations of vocal chords, in pigment on canvas or paper, in the twanging of gut and the blowing of air on reeds, in the shaping of wood, stone or metal, or whatever. At the heart of the Christian worldview lies the truth that one finds his true being only in relationship, supremely in relationships of self-giving love. Paradoxically, it is only as one lives for others that his individuality and distinctiveness are preserved. This Christian mindset has implications for art (following Begby 77-79).1) From a Christian point of view, art is a vehicle of communication between people. Of course an artist may say that he makes things only for himself or only because he has to. A poet can write verse for no other reader; a composer can produce a symphony for no other ear; and so on. From a Christian point of view, however, art is not a “gift from the self to the self” (Vitz) but a medium of personal exchange. The arts flourish best in the context of community in which conversation and communal judgment inform them.2) From a Christian point of view, issues about an artist’s obligation to society cannot be sidestepped. Neither can issues of constraint and censorship. An artist must be sensitive to the shared values and assumptions of his social setting.3) From a Christian point of view, originality may not be the supreme artistic value; tradition may be just asimportant or even more important. Originality without tradition stagnates as quickly as tradition without originality.
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- Spring '16
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