March 28th, 2007 by Menachem Wecker
Discussions of Doctrines posts on Hindu art and idolatry. The first argument cited establishes idolatry as a judgement of the beholder–so far so good. But then DoD launches into a different line of argument:
So WHY make a god out of materials that aren’t really real, bow before it and claim you are bowing to your god and not the thing, which you are really bowing before because you think your god can see you through it, because you say you have to SEE your god in order to believe in him/her even though what we SEE isn’t really real. ??? Does anyone else see the inconsistency here?
The inconsistency only arises if one is still stuck in a Western mindset. Just because one is bowing to a God, doesn’t mean the God needs it, or that the bower needs to see the God to believe in it. These claims carry no logical weight, and they equate the “real” with the tangible.
Angels of Light: Ethiopian Art from the Walters Art Museum is at MoBIA. I’m hoping to catch it next time I am in New York. See: artnet.
Arnie Adkison writes that Christians should “who worship the Creator ought to be the most creative, and avoid copying the broader culture’s art” and “DEFINITELY should not produce bad art.” He adds, “The American church needs to find a way to produce more artists” and:
There really isn’t such a definitive category as Christian art. What makes a book or a song Christian? How is a painting or a sculpture Christian? Do they have to mention Jesus? Do they have to overtly point to God or some biblical truth? Some people seem to think that a movie is not a Christian movie unless it has some blatant invitation to respond to the gospel, as if the Holy Spirit cannot work in subtle tones (see the second point above). There is really only good art, mediocre art, and bad art. And Christians should DEFINITELY not be making bad art.
I find this kind of thinking small minded and far more moralistic (ironically) than the artists who try to steer viewers to the Gospels. Artists, Christians and non-Christians alike, should do their best at making work that is in their voice, and that is all that has to be said about that. The work will be Christian, if it wants to be, just as the artist will be Christian if she or he wants to be.
Where have all the mothers gone? “The image of Mary has been, throughout Christendom and therefore through the history of the West, at the centre of our conception of motherhood. The ‘Madonna and Child’ is written into our psyches through two thousand years of Christian art.” A lamentation of a time “In which women are reluctant to be women, and men reluctant to be men.”