Toward something

Strangely enough, some questions seem to be largely neglected in a program ostensibly focused on theology and art:

  • The perennial, controversial, probably unanswerable (but still important) question: “What Is Art?”
  • Related, what is entertainment, and what is its relation/contrast to art?
  • What should be the goal, or goals, of art from a Christian perspective? (N.B.: there is a big difference between art by Christians and Christian art; the former has a long and venerable history, the latter usually stinks)
  • How can art (or any other vocation, for that matter) speak about the kingdom of God? How can art speak peace to violence, justice to oppression, love to hate, hope to despair?
  • In a spiritual/moral sense, what is good art as compared to bad art? Can we safely speak of good and bad art or entertainment with regard to the contrasts of the previous question (maybe also taking Philippians 4:8 as a guide)?
  • Is there a valid application of those same criteria with regard to aesthetics?
  • From a practical point of view, what does it mean to think about art “theologically?” How would this actually play out in the artistic process/product?
  • Regarding the last question, is this even possible in non-representational art (i.e., music in my case)? Without recourse to descriptive titles or program notes, can music (the musical artifact, the sound) be theological?

There are, I am quite sure, many more questions in queue with these. I am bothered that I don’t think I’ve had a serious discussion about them in any official capacity as part of my program in “Theology and the Arts” here at school. For some of them I have impressions of answers, for some rather strong feelings, and for others I have no clue; but what I think hardly matters if it is based mostly in personal opinion–informed or not. These need to be delved into, lived with, discussed. I haven’t been posting much lately with the work load pressing on me as it is, but hopefully I’ll occasionally be able to make time to explore some of these questions here at new mus(ings)ic, since that’s right in line with what I always intended to write about anyway (it certainly wasn’t intended to be primarily a theology blog, which is kind of what it’s been lately).

P.S. I’ve been updating my real website off and on for the last few days, adding little bits and reformatting others. There is a lot of work left to do, but feel free to check it out. I’m particularly proud of having finally integrated a music player, rather than just having links to mp3s for people to download.

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Composer of music and sonic art. Percussionist, guitarist, computer musician. Composition/theory/electronic music professor. Husband and father. Catholic. Food and beer enthusiast. Perpetually dissatisfied with the contents of my sock drawer.

One thought on “Toward something”

  1. Have you taken Theology & Art with Dyrness yet? That is the class where we most discussed those questions. Also, in the past, the ACC has been a forum for such discussion. There’s no reason it always has to be about “business” – it can be a place for us to really tackle these thoughts.

    If nothing else, please let’s have a beer with John along sometime. This is exactly what he’s doing his dissertation on.

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