The Need for Excess

“We are creatures made in the image of a Creator who makes things that He does not need, things that are not of use to Him. As we imitate His excess, we play music and recite poetry and tell stories-and organize liberal arts colleges so others can do these things with us.”

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  • I get what he’s saying but the idea that personal enjoyment is not some sort of telos interrupts what could otherwise be a smooth article. It would have been more facile for him to say that while study of the liberal arts does indeed have its use and usefulness, those uses are not any more political that the usefulness of a plumbing apprenticeship.

    It may have even been more useful for him to say that ^_^

  • Ya. I understand your criticism, but I think Leithart is clear that he is speaking “by all normal standards.” It’s that “interruption” (as you say) that gives this article its poignance.

    And anyway, I’m only throwing this link out there to call into question the idea that engagement with media must extract “deep truths” and “meanings” in order to be properly “Christian” engagement.

  • I think that really is the value of the article. I think it’s probably a reaction to the years under the fundamentalist critique where believer’s who did enjoy the liberal arts (and especially the contemporary liberal arts—i.e., pop culture) felt it necessary to apologize for their interest.

    “Oh, I’m just seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in Red Heat because I need to know what the kids in my youth group are seeing! I need to be able to respond to what the world is throwing at them.”

    Somewhere along the line, people bought into the excuses they were giving and suddenly there was this Noble need to utilize pop-culture in some quote-unquote Christian way. Usually in evangelism or cultural apologetics.

    So yeah, I’m glad that Leithart is bringing that to the reader’s attention. It’s just that with the interruption I mentioned, one man’s poignancy is another man’s distraction. And you can colour me distracted.

  • Alan Noble

    I love Leithart. Thanks for the link. I found it to be a great companion piece to this article in The Nation on teaching literature.

  • Wait a sec! You mean I can read this blog for its own sake, and not because I want to know what the pop-contextualists are telling the kids in my youth group?

  • You read this blog because you want to know what the pop-contextualists are telling the kids in your youth group?

  • Ummm, no. I guess if you have to explain a sarcastic comment, then it wasn’t that funny to begin with.

    I’ll go back to being contrarian now….

  • Very good, sir.