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).