Yesterday was another envigorating day of discussion. We talked about the implications of God’s creation for artists and audiences–what we would understand of God simply by observing His creation and how that understanding might guide and inform our own work, both in terms of form and content, process and product. Then we kicked around the fundamental meaning of humanity, what it means to be human made in the image of God. There is much less consensus about that notion than there used to be. It is much more difficult for these students to come up with what differentiates us from other species. They concede there must be something different, but even in the realms of rationality and imagination, they hold out hope that even though there is little evidence that other species use these faculties in the manner of humans, they refuse to discount the possibility. Fair enough, and the upside of this kind of move is that they hold creation and other creatures in high regard, which is a powerful move in the right direction. At the same time, I’m not sure what the implications are in terms of the way we understand ourselves and our role in creation, especially as it relates to the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1 and 2).
The last topic concerned the fall and the nature of evil in art. The students argue that art is morally neutral, and we are still unpacking what that means, but there is a real reluctance to label anything in art “evil.” The word “damaging” is much more comfortable, or “unhealthy.” There is good in that reluctance to label things “evil”–no fundamentalist knee-jerking here–but it raises the question about their fundamental understanding of cosmology in the Christian worldview.
This is a great group of students…intelligent, witty, creative, compassionate, passionate about their faith, whatever flavor. Much of what I see in them gives me great hope about the future.
And then there was the West Texas sunset and a great dinner among my friends. More about that later…
Today, we tackle Christology and the history of art in the Church. There won’t be time for much…symbolism in the catacombs, icons, and a bit of architecture.
If you could build any church you wanted, what would it be like, and what values would be driving those choices?