Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Defense of the Arts

Take a look at this article from Christianity Today’s website. Titled “Saying More than We Can Say,” it defends the value of the arts even in light of ever-shrinking spending habits as a result of the current recession. I was personally very glad to read this article, and not just because my future career depends on the existence of a demand for the arts, but also because I genuinely believe that the arts are the best ways to declare the glory of God.

First a word to my friends in the sciences: I have always been a strong believer of science’s ability to soften some of the effects of sin (e.g., medicine, psychiatry, technology), and I it was in my high school math classes that I realized how strongly the simplicity behind the complexity in mathematics reflects the majesty of the Creator. I have no end of gratitude for the brain God gave me that allowed me to study the sciences at an advanced level in high school and foster my appreciation for them.

Which leads to what I believe is science’s shortcoming: it is somewhat inaccessible. A physician can see for himself or herself the “fearfully and wonderfully made” nature of the human body, but how many people are able to go to medical school?

I would argue that the arts are not so inaccessible. To be sure, just as not everyone can go to medical school, not everyone can be a professional sculptor or violinist (but I am Facebook friends with some future professional violinists, so I am perfectly content with not being one myself). The difference is that the threshold for engaging in the sciences is higher than for the arts. A child at play will far more likely be doing something of an artistic nature than of a scientific nature.

(Allow me to pause to define the two adjectives artistic and scientific. For my purposes, artistic is synonymous with creative, and scientific is synonymous with investigative.)

Because the arts are so accessible, the Church can more readily use this medium to point people toward Christ. And one can quickly see that local churches do in their music ministries, which in some churches may include or be augmented by drama and other creative arts ministries (and what would Vacation Bible School be without craft time?).

Last fall, I began the music history sequence as part of my major requirements at Wheaton College. My professor for Baroque and Classical Eras in the fall and Nineteenth Century Music this past spring, Dr. Jonathan Saylor, showed us that the hearts of many composers in the classical literature were focused on Christ, resulting in some of the most beautiful music in history. Their compositions were their cries of adoration to their Savior. And what (Who) else would have inspired the medieval church to build soaring cathedrals? What (Who) was behind the painters and sculptors of the Renaissance when they painted and sculpted images from the gospels?

Engage the arts…for the glory of God.

This is Rubio, over and out.

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