For the second week in a row, in order to make some timeand space for a #NoQuarterNovember post later today, I am serving up atruncated letters section today. This section should be back to normal next week.Thanks for your understanding.
I notice three kinds of contemporary artists. They’re not all copying my five-year-old’s refrigerator art (and those who do often have talent but suppress it on purpose), but it’s still a sad scene. There are those who still sweat over blank canvases and twisted hangers to make a philosophical point, not realizing how dated they are; those who use shock, novelty and eclecticism to attempt social commentary, not realizing how dated they will be tomorrow, and those whose artwork is technically proficient, even beautiful, but spiritually sterile. I’m most comfortable with artists in this last group, because even undertones of Eastern mysticism can’t really ruin a well-executed landscape. But all three share a desire to be profound, ironic, relevant. Joy has a way of breaking through a canvas and contemporary art wants to be mute.
Re: Mod Art, and the Dearth — Surely, on some level, our appreciation of art will always be somewhat subjective, right? Artists, even godly, talented ones, will always have different styles, and approaches to doing their art, I think. As the apostle Peter might say, they are stewards of the “varied grace of God,” (4:10) and the outcome of that stewardship will look different along a whole range of factors. For instance, I am a huge fan of Albert Bierstadt’s art, and my mother-in-law (the gem of a woman she is) bought me a framed print of one of his works for my birthday last year. It hangs over my mantle, and I often enjoy its beauty. But my enjoyment of it is really subjective, I think, considering he could perhaps be considered the Thomas Kinkaid of yesteryear (in his use of light, etc). Is my defense of his artwork hanging in my living room me falling into the blurry edges of this dearth of culture? I certainly want to like what God likes, and I want to always glorify Him in all my choices (of art, and poetry, and music), but when does my attempt at building a godly culture in my home simply look different than someone else’s similar attempts? Thanks for all your writing. I certainly appreciate your art and craft of wordsmithy. God bless you, sir.
Scott, your enjoyment of a painting is certainly subjective. But the standards that make a painting worthy of people enjoying it are not subjective at all.
As a simplification, and expansion of your idea here, a great architect once said: “Look, if you can’t explain this idea to your mother, then it’s not a good idea.” Too many people have not gotten that memo!
Jason, far too many people have not gotten that memo.
“Well! I’ve often seen a culture without a sneer,” thought Doug, “but a sneer without a culture! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!” (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)
Carson, you say “with apologies to Lewis Carroll.” But are you really sorry?
Female Genital Mutilation and Circumcision
You mentioned female genital mutilation, what about boys? Would you classify circumcision differently? Why? You are full of opinions, so I thought I would ask. This is also not abstract for me. In addition to my daughter, I have two boys and one more on the way. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
BJ, circumcision is not in the same category at all. We should be able to anticipate that it is not in the same category from the mere fact that it was required of God’s people all through the old covenant. Secondly, if it impairs no function at all, then it can hardly be called “mutilation.” Female genital mutilation” is designed to impair function.
Bro. Doug is mistaken about why this has emerged in the PCA. The source of the problem is the Reformed habit of concocting a huge, overarching interpretative framework which takes precedence over plain statements or examples in the Bible. There’s no other way to justify something like, for example, the limited atonement or infant baptism. Now the exact same procedure is being used to justify the “gay Christian” ideology. To my Presbyterian and Reformed friends, I love you all dearly, but I must say lotsa luck trying to find a way to stop this based on plain statements in the Bible. That won’t happen until the Bible itself becomes more authoritative than any interpretative framework . . . at which point you’ll have a lot more to deal with than just keeping unrepentant gays out of the pulpit.
Steve, if you loved us all so dearly as that, you shouldn’t say such mean things.
Seriously, I don’t think your explanation works. If the culprit really were systematic theology, then why was the prep work for all these moral downgrades a generation-long disparagement of systematic theology? I have had a lot of experience with students from Christian homes, and I have seen the kind that grew up with catechisms and confessions as compared to the kind who have arrived in our midst all enthused about “biblical theology,” and the “narrative arc” of Scripture. Generally speaking, the difference is that the kids steeped in systematics knew their Bibles a whole lot better than the others.