I have a couple of issues. Well, more than a couple. Somewhere in that mystical confluence we call "person" where the brain and the heart meet, I am aware there are deep seated confusions I harbor about the Kingdom of God. I get the easy things in life twisted. So here they are, offered as discussion material.
What is a real Christian rationale for art? I will sometimes teach about the value of art in its sheer excess - art is a sign of excess, an overflowing of beauty that testifies to a superabundance of goodness in God. I can accept that -in part. It is a very romantic notion. But there is a part of me that is too much like Judas - I am always left wondering about the wasted resources (including time), wondering if there is something more healing or fruitful that could have been approached instead. It seems awfully wasteful to create paintings or buy instruments when that money very well could be used to feed someone hungry, contribute to their education, buy them a Bible, etc.
Permit me to be honest for a moment. I love cars and woodworking. I love the beautiful things people make from common materials, some of it practical, some of it simply breathtaking. But these things require tools and materials, and expensive tools and materials at that (even the reclaimed stuff). Especially cars - I am transfixed by the stuff people can do with an English Wheel. I would call my self a hot-rodder but I've never built anything. Who can afford it? How can anyone rationally justify a $50,000 car as banks foreclose on responsible people who have lost their jobs due to health problems...
So these are examples of how I experience the tension. I hear similar things about other media; music, pottery, etc. Again, I don't teach this to people - I feel equally guilty squashing people's enthusiasm. When I preach, I preach about the significance of Art. I encourage people to it, valuing the creativity and expression. But personally it is difficult for me to justify and I use the same line of logic Judas does when the woman anoints Jesus. I rationalize my own teaching by focusing on the therapeutic aspects.
At bottom, I suppose my question is "when is it ok to not be explicitly actively loving people with your time and stuff?" or, what "counts" as a spiritual pursuit of art," or maybe "how do we justify the resources art requires? Even, what is a Christological justification for art? When is there too much invested in it? This is a deep theo-motional* confusion for me. What say you?
(eat your heart out, Pat Riley)