Art & Mind

Two studies reported on the same day are, I think, related. According to the Census Bureau Seattle ranks as the most educated big city in the US and a Stanford University Professor, Elliott Eisner, concludes the arts are “more helpful in dealing with the ambiguities and uncertainties of daily life than some of the curricula used by schools.”

It may seem counterintuitive, but if asked, how do educated people learn about ambiguous subjects like religion, ethics and philosophy, I would respond–paintings, poetry fiction, film and music.

I live in Seattle and thanks to the generous donations of many friends (though we still need ($) 25,000 per month through December) we are about to launch a live weekly event in a local pub and a daily podcast. CFC media will produce original media that is an intelligent, imaginative, hospitable exploration of “things that matter most” in contemporary life as introduced through today’s movies, books, music and events.

Given today’s studies I hope you can see the method in our apparent madness. The unexamined life is not worth living and today’s educated populace examines life through the mediation of arts & popular culture. Though popular culture is generally superficial, mindless, diversionary and is driven by celebrity, marketing and money and not by craft, nor the pursuit of the good, the true and beautiful, and though it is often spiritually and intellectually delusional, within it there are gems worth discovering and discussing, produced by a remnant of “thoughtful creatives.”

We intend to connect the timeless Bible narrative to today’s artistic journeying, because the Bible itself possesses as much art & metaphor as it does propositional truth (something lost on today’s logical apologists). Just today I read the passage of Elijah who has run for his life from Jezebel. God finds Elijah hiding in a cave–listen to the drama of God:

[“There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”]

Catch the drama in this text. The dynamic imagery of wind, earthquake and fire is followed by a whisper and in this case, in the whisper dwells God’s voice.

Every true artist understands how dramatic expression requires a broad palate, whether working with words on a page, paint on a canvas or notes on a score sheet. The sheer power of imagery, from loud to quiet, flies under reason’s radar and reaches us at a deeper place, a place where reason and senses meet.

The Hebrews talked about loving God with the heart, not as separate from the mind, but incorporating it.

If ever there was a time when artists need to step up to their prophetic role it is now. If ever there was a place–it is Seattle and anywhere in the world held in the grip of postmodernism.

Rookmaaker’s sage advice rings truer than ever: artists, craftsmen and musicians– “weep, pray, think and work” before it is too late.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW

  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch:

  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2006

    Posted in Staublog in April 11, 2006 by | No Comments »

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    + 31 = 36

    More from Staublog