Friday, August 16, 2013

Art & Faith: Concluding Thoughts

Today is the second and final installment of my thoughts on the intersection of faith and art for our Story 101 theme this week. Here is the first half, in case you missed it.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” (Eccles 12:1)

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
Children have a natural regard for Creator. They know their way around the world of art better than a lot of grown-ups. Hand a child a sheet of paper and some markers; it will not be returned void. Add scissors, cardboard, glue and glitter into the mix and there will always be a masterpiece. In spite of a lack of skill, the glow of triumph is present. The pride of authorship makes them tremble with excitement at their handiwork.

I've never had my daughter thrust her art project in my face with a sullen frown, muttering, "Waste of precious time." She is jubilant in her work. She is crazy proud of her abilities. She is not just hoping but fully expecting that I will tell her how wonderful it is.

A couple of days ago she wanted to make a paper snowflake. One would think the concept is simple enough, but after the first random tutorial and subsequent failure, I went looking for truth in the archives of Voila! The finished product was not hexagonal like the original format, but it still looked pretty in its own way.

(Kaitlin has now made several snowflakes and taught her friends how to make them, too. It has been "snowing" paper scraps ever since.)

My daughter's desire to create reminded me of another solid truth to hold in tension with the "nothing new" philosophy. Because as science has allowed us to dig deeper into reality, we humans have discovered that each snowflake is unique; no two are alike! (Take that, Mr. Author-of-Ecclesiastes!) Nature is a timely reminder that there are/can be new things under the sun.

New is happening all around us; we just need to pay attention. That driving force behind a person, which we call inspiration, (whether or not we agree to believe it is divine,) can be made tangible through art. And when it is made tangible, it has the power to be seen and touched and believed in.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” The author of Ecclesiastes understood that this was the key; to get back to the time of childlike faith in Creator. A time of untainted creativity. (I like to imagine he heeded his own advice after finishing the rant. That's usually how I operate when I unleash a frustrated tirade on life.)

Our creativity can restore dignity, bring reconciliation, make peace in the world. It is never meaningless!

Our creativity can draw pictures, compose melodies, build bridges and monuments and playgrounds and hospitals. Our words can dig wells that quench the thirst for meaning. Our paintings can renew sight to those who cannot see any brightness in their future. Our music and movement can bring a storm-ravaged soul back from the edge of despair. All it takes is a little inspiration and the faith to keep going.

It is NEVER meaningless!

We share what we know and feel, and it is not vanity. It's called communicating. Or it's called art. Words, silence, sounds, movement, stillness, sights. Life. They all have significant meaning.

There is always someone to touch; someone who needs our specific perspective. Art is not only an expression; it is crucial to faith and life. Art is not vanity.

There are plenty of new things under the sun every day, awaiting our life-giving touch; the artist's touch.

There are plenty of new things.

New every morning.

New as a newborn snowflake.



*If you don't know where to start, why not begin with a snowflake?


  1. Yeah I think the author of Ecclesiastes
    was right as far as he went, his concluding words expressing the
    glimmer of hope he retained in God's promises, fulfilled in the work
    of Christ. For without the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit, the
    world really does spiral around an endless void of meaninglessness
    marked by what is fleeting or repetitious. But once we see it in the
    light of the Gospel, and the transforming seeds God sows within us,
    our creations become meaningful not only in their human appeal but in
    that they are acts of worship, songs sung to his glory, who is the
    author of creativity itself.

  2. I was trying to vote up as a way of "liking" your comment but it isn't acknowledging my ID. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always thought Ecclesiastes' conclusion balanced well with this


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