24 August 2007

A high school senior thesis on spirituality in art

This excellent essay is very impressive for a high school senior:

The Spiritual in Art: Ripping Apart the Bushel by Joshua M. Rayner

Overall, great ideas and well-written. I was concerned at first about his representation of non-Christians as affected by the fall ("their fallen natures pervert their perceptiveness of the art's spirituality" and their understanding is "warped and distorted by sin"), whereas he was not painting Christians with the same brush. That's a very stark us-them demarcation, no notion of common grace or of the idea that people on their journey towards faith might have a little portion of the light he claimed only for Christians, and no recognition that Christians too are affected by sin in their perceptions of reality. However, later he redeemed himself by saying some more nuanced things: "Christians do not suddenly evince pure truth from the moment of justification" (though again he's pinpointing conversion to one moment in time, which isn't always the case) and "Christ indwells the hearts of those whom He has called, but that is not the only place in which He is to be found." Opens up the possibility of his understanding common grace, though I think in the context of that quote he was talking about revelation through Creation, not through the works of non-Christians which I believe can sometimes be surprisingly deep in their manifestation of God and Truth. We are all, after all, created in the image of God. Some of us recognize that; others don't. But we can't help imaging him in some way in our art. Knowing the call can make that more intentional for Christians, but it doesn't mean that it can't ever be there for non-Christians.

Anyway, in spite of those quibbles, Joshua's thesis is a very clear and bold articulation of the vocation of Christian artists. Well worth reading.

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