Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Friday is for Friends

posted by xscot mcknight

We are in our 13th installment in Pilgrim Heart by Darryl Tippens — and this chp is on “Creating: The Truth of Beauty.” Once again, I admit that I’ve not seen this topic — creating — in any study of spiritual formation or in any study of spirituality for a community. So, I begin with a word of appreciation to Tippens for bringing this category into the conversation.
David asked “one thing of the Lord” … “to behold the beauty of the Lord.” What role does beauty play in your own spiritual formation or in your church’s formation?
Dangers? Of course: “aestheticism — a devotion to art as an end in itself — is a kind of substitute religion” (157) and can be idolatrous for some. Some have rejected art and some are ambivalent about art, and yet others strike the balance of knowing that God the creator summons each of us to be co-creators.
Balance? To be sure. As was said by Augustine: “All things are beautiful because you made them, but you [God] who made everything are inexpressibly more beautiful” (161).
What can art and beauty do for us?
1. It not only appeals to the eye and ear; it transmits insights.
2. It can be pre-evangelistic (CS Lewis).
3. It can awaken spiritual longing.
4. It suggests God’s presence in the world.
That is, as Simone Weil puts it: art is “Christ’s tender smile for us coming through matter” (162).
I like this: “Faith requires imagination” (163).



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Ted Gossard

posted April 27, 2007 at 3:53 am


This speaks to me towards a problem in my mind I’ve been unable to resolve. I like the beauty seen in some of the great church buildings in the architecture and especially in the ornate, stained glass, etc. But raised in low church evangelicalism, I hardly saw this as important and even dangerous to our spiritual health! Just give us a cardboard box; that will suffice as a place for gathering.
I can see now that held in good balance bringing beauty into the picture of our gatherings can be helpful and good in pointing us to the beauty of the Lord, and his kingdom and will as seen in creation and the new creation in Christ.
Thanks, Darryl and Scot.



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BeckyR

posted April 27, 2007 at 4:12 am


Oh my, my, my I could rant, being an artist myself for 30 yrs. But I won’t. Only add this question that really is a statement. Does art need be beautiful?
And question #2, could you say more about the quote “aestheticism — a devotion to art as an end in itself — is a kind of substitute religion” Could your give some examples of art being an end in itself.
I yearn for beauty in the christian world that is not used evangelically. That is, beauty is created for the joy of the creation and the Creator.
I yearn for the awesomelly beautiful cathedral I see in big cities and through out Europe. What it says about us to be content with box churches.
Then to turn to another angle in my post – there is beauty in relationships, there is beauty in nature. And other things but my brain is having a brain fart right now.
I really held back on what could be my rant on this.
Hi Ted.



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bob

posted April 27, 2007 at 5:59 am


BeckyR,
I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to hear a rant, but I would like to hear more! Help me understand art that is not beautiful.
Have you read Hans Rookmaaker’s “Art Needs No Justification”? As the title suggests, art doesn’t need evangelism or liturgy or anything of the sort to be “legitimate”. I think that the things you are suggesting have been and are being thought about by others.

In response to the main post: I really like the idea of the creative act as a kind of spiritual formation. Very appealing!



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Scot McKnight

posted April 27, 2007 at 6:44 am


Becky,
I think Darryl Tippens did tie the words “create, beauty, and art” together. Perhaps you are reading this that all art is beauty; I’m not sure that is being stated by Tippens. What he’s trying to do in this chp is to bring our creative impulses into the church for the glory of God.
We non-artists are challenged by such a message.



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Diane

posted April 27, 2007 at 6:55 am


I loved this chapter. One point stood out: Tippens asks, why would God be so cruel as to give us an appreciation of beauty and creative gifts and then ask us not to use them? Given our continuing of discussion of women’s gifts … well, you can see where I’m going with this …
I’ve wondered a lot about my own creativity and have shut it down in the past because I felt it was not Godly. I still partially shut it down. I do wonder where this comes from, where in our Protestant strain we learn to so fear our creativity. At one point I had decided I was self indulgent and would stop writing altogether and was implementing this plan (this was sincerely meant to serve God and not self) and then someone approached me … So Tippens is a comfort.
Is it that we love our creative products so much that we fear they compete with God? Is a puritanical thing: do we fear being too happy?



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Brian

posted April 27, 2007 at 6:56 am


I find myself reflecting on both sides of this issue.
Isaiah 53
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
Revelation 21
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.



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Greg Laughery

posted April 27, 2007 at 7:48 am


Vive l’imagination. Thanks Scot. Sounds like Tippens helpfully aligns creativity and spirituality. Great thoughts. Let’s live them to the glory of God.
Greg



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Allie

posted April 27, 2007 at 8:26 am


Indeed. As an aspiring artist myself, I’ve often wondered what my gifts have to do with the church, but then I look around at nature and realize that God is the Master Artist. He created us both with an ability to appreciate beauty, and create it ourselves. I’ve been helped in this regard by being involved in a church that appreciates the arts as useful in the body of Christ.
Don’t give up on your writing, Diane. I’m a poet myself, and if someone were to tell me that my writing was self-serving and to give it up to God, I would slap the so-and-so into next Tuesday. I believe that God honors creativity (look at the Psalms; God wanted poetry in His Book, after all!), and will hold us accountable for how we used His gifts, including our artistic talents. Don’t ever give up, but believe that your writing will be used by God to build up His Church, and bring people to Him who don’t know Him. And don’t put too much stock in what people say. Glean the truth from it, but leave the rest.



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CAS

posted April 27, 2007 at 8:39 am


Like Ted, I’ve spent much of my life in utilitarian low-church settings. My earliest memories of church, however, are from a beautiful Presbyterian church with walnut pews and stained glass. I also lived across the street from a Catholic church that was beautiful enough to be a film location once. Both these churches were in beachfront communities and were wrapped in weathered cedar shakes.
The beauty in the low-church, so the argument goes, is the people. But we don’t generally use that as a reason not to make our homes as beautiful as we are able. Who doesn’t appreciate a beautiful location?
I have found a renewed connection with the Lord in a spiritually dry time through the beauty of both the building and the liturgy in the high-church I currently attend. Beauty can draw us into His presence. Think of the rich lyrics to any great hymn or worship song.
This topic seems like a no-brainer to me.



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Diane

posted April 27, 2007 at 10:44 am


Hi Allie,
Thanks for the support. I do actually make a living writing now but I almost shut that part of myself down. I am trying to get together a “writing as worship” group to do some creative writing but I wonder if creative writing takes us away from doing the work of the world … I don’t know.



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CAS

posted April 27, 2007 at 11:07 am


Nooooo Diane, keep up your creative writing! Fiction speaks so much louder than non-fiction, and I say this as a professional non-fiction writer. Creative writing is the work of the world!



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dan wilt

posted April 27, 2007 at 3:43 pm


Lovely, this post holds essential ideas that guide our work at the Institute Of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies here at St. Stephen’s University.
A renewed creational theology, that has aesthetic cultural backbone and is expressed vibrantly in the world by Christ followers of every creative stripe.
Cheers to the days ahead of reimagining the world through God’s eyes!



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JACK

posted April 27, 2007 at 4:18 pm


For those of interest, some friends of friends of mine run a journal called “Image” (http://www.imagejournal.org/) that might be of interest to this thread.



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BeckyR

posted April 27, 2007 at 4:52 pm


Thanks Scot, for the clarification. I had misread it.
Bob, I have read Schaeffer’s Art Needs no Justification and Rookmaker’s Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, along with Frank Schaeffer’s books and a tape about art and being a christian. I have been helped by all. It is something I have read and thought about for 30 yrs. Not only helped in my art, but in my life by it, too.



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Allie

posted April 27, 2007 at 10:38 pm


Diane–
I don’t think such a group takes you “away from the work of the world” in principle. I think such a group could be really encouraging, strengthening you and others for that work. CAS is entirely right on what he said; I strongly encourage you to form such a group; you’ll benefit so much from it. Don’t ever give up something you feel so passionate about.



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