Tastelessness in the Church

Jason Braaten, at Concordia TheoBLOGical Seminary, links to a good Touchstone essay by Anthony Esolen, then draws some incisive conclusions of his own:

Talking about taste is not bad with regard to the arts in the church, unless you have none. And it is this that we as the church have been reticent to discuss-mainly due to the fact that we ourselves don’t actually have taste. We have knowledge of what we want people to think is good taste, but don’t actually have it. It isn’t a part of the fiber of our being. We are fakes. We are phonies. We have no taste-some to a lesser degree than others.

What strikes chords that resonate within me with this essay is Esolen’s ability to say just that. To evaluate tastes, you must have some taste. And what the church hasn’t done, nor is it quite prepared to do because we are in a very real sense victims and perpetrators of the enemy issues, is come out to say some tastes are better than others. We have not inculcated and nurtured people to identify with those tastes that are higher and better. And this is not just the case in church, but probably more so in the home. There is objectivity to beauty and taste, even though we have learned otherwise. And the saddest and most shameful thing about this is that we have chosen simply to maintain status quo and hand it on to subsequent generations.

To remind those of us who say we believe in “absolutes” against the postmodernists who deny there is any such thing, the three absolutes were and are Truth, Goodness, and BEAUTY. Christians are against relativism when it comes to truth and goodness but they tend to agree with the postmodernists that beauty is relative. This must be challenged. Once beauty goes, the other absolutes quickly become unravelled. (This is not, by the way, just the problem of churches; rather, it reflects the even bigger tastelessness of the culture as a whole, which Christians, while criticizing the culture on many points, emulate it on this one.)

Yes, beauty involves a subjective response and that “tastes” differ, but taste, like other human faculties, must be cultivated, educated, and disciplined. We need to learn how to take subjective pleasure in what is objectively GOOD.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    I recently re-read Pollution and the Death of Man by Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer writes about beauty in the arts in other books, but in this book he writes about beauty in nature. Christians, according to Schaeffer, ought to be better able to appreciate beauty in nature—or in any other realm—than anyone else, but we often fail to do so. Schaeffer believed that one of the first fruits of a truly Christian world view would be a new sense of beauty.

    Schaeffer tells a story of his trip to speak at a rather ugly Christian college which was across the road from a hippie commune. He ventured over to the hippie’s forest home to visit with its inhabitants, looked back at the Christian community, and observed ugliness.

    It is a great—and sad—story. I have quoted at length here: I looked at the Christian community and saw ugliness.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    I recently re-read Pollution and the Death of Man by Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer writes about beauty in the arts in other books, but in this book he writes about beauty in nature. Christians, according to Schaeffer, ought to be better able to appreciate beauty in nature—or in any other realm—than anyone else, but we often fail to do so. Schaeffer believed that one of the first fruits of a truly Christian world view would be a new sense of beauty.

    Schaeffer tells a story of his trip to speak at a rather ugly Christian college which was across the road from a hippie commune. He ventured over to the hippie’s forest home to visit with its inhabitants, looked back at the Christian community, and observed ugliness.

    It is a great—and sad—story. I have quoted at length here: I looked at the Christian community and saw ugliness.

  • David Thompson

    A number of years ago I had a discussion with two conservative pastors both of whom insisted that beauty in art (specifically music) was relative, even though one of them was highly gifted in producing beautiful music with his voice and organ playing ability. What hindered them is their belief that the only absolute truth was biblical truth. Ironically, the Bible itself claims that truth and real beauty can be known apart from divine revelation. Absolutes discovered in the non-biblical realm may not be as certain or ascertained in the same way as biblical absolutes, but they are just as real and are no less the product of God. You are very correct in noting the slipper slope — deny real beauty and real truth will follow.

  • David Thompson

    A number of years ago I had a discussion with two conservative pastors both of whom insisted that beauty in art (specifically music) was relative, even though one of them was highly gifted in producing beautiful music with his voice and organ playing ability. What hindered them is their belief that the only absolute truth was biblical truth. Ironically, the Bible itself claims that truth and real beauty can be known apart from divine revelation. Absolutes discovered in the non-biblical realm may not be as certain or ascertained in the same way as biblical absolutes, but they are just as real and are no less the product of God. You are very correct in noting the slipper slope — deny real beauty and real truth will follow.

  • fw

    “De gustibus, non disputandum est.” Cicero

    “Concerning taste, there can be no dispute.”

    I think that you are either turning this quote on it´s head or you are declaring Cicero to be a post-modernist.

    Ah the pain of seeing the world through the lense of a classical education in the humanities. ;)

  • fw

    “De gustibus, non disputandum est.” Cicero

    “Concerning taste, there can be no dispute.”

    I think that you are either turning this quote on it´s head or you are declaring Cicero to be a post-modernist.

    Ah the pain of seeing the world through the lense of a classical education in the humanities. ;)

  • Art Nocturne

    David, I would be interested in knowing how the Bible indicates that beauty can be known apart from divine revelation. The world declares the glory of its creator, and so things which declare that glory could be said to be objectively beautiful, but that leads toward a universalism of beauty that destroys the usefulness of the concept of what we normally think of as “beautiful”.

    DNA, microbial symbiosis, workings of the human body, and just about everything God made declares his glory, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all beautiful. Or, one can say they’re all beautiful, then the idea of beautiful has been diluted to virtual uselessness.

    How does the Bible say that real beauty can be known apart from divine revelation? Perhaps you would want to say what defines beauty, first.

    Is it the dictionary definition of beauty? (something that gives pleasure to the senses) Or is it something else?

    If it is accurately defined by the dictionary definition, then beauty is inherently subjective and cannot be objective. If beauty is defined more like “that which demonstrates the wonder of God”, then the idea of beauty is far to broad to be applied usefully because everything declares the wonders of God in some way.

    What is ‘beauty’?

  • Art Nocturne

    David, I would be interested in knowing how the Bible indicates that beauty can be known apart from divine revelation. The world declares the glory of its creator, and so things which declare that glory could be said to be objectively beautiful, but that leads toward a universalism of beauty that destroys the usefulness of the concept of what we normally think of as “beautiful”.

    DNA, microbial symbiosis, workings of the human body, and just about everything God made declares his glory, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all beautiful. Or, one can say they’re all beautiful, then the idea of beautiful has been diluted to virtual uselessness.

    How does the Bible say that real beauty can be known apart from divine revelation? Perhaps you would want to say what defines beauty, first.

    Is it the dictionary definition of beauty? (something that gives pleasure to the senses) Or is it something else?

    If it is accurately defined by the dictionary definition, then beauty is inherently subjective and cannot be objective. If beauty is defined more like “that which demonstrates the wonder of God”, then the idea of beauty is far to broad to be applied usefully because everything declares the wonders of God in some way.

    What is ‘beauty’?

  • Bror Erickson

    I think we all know from instinct that Beauty is more or less relative, but not completely. I mean who hasn’t disagreed with college buddies over beer concerning the waitress serving the beer? It seems though the more beer you drink the less relative everything gets, at least there is less disagreement as to who is good looking.
    Maybe ugly is more objective than beauty, we all know ugly when we see it.

  • Bror Erickson

    I think we all know from instinct that Beauty is more or less relative, but not completely. I mean who hasn’t disagreed with college buddies over beer concerning the waitress serving the beer? It seems though the more beer you drink the less relative everything gets, at least there is less disagreement as to who is good looking.
    Maybe ugly is more objective than beauty, we all know ugly when we see it.

  • http://bluegrasslutheran.blogspot.com Christopher Jackson

    Perhaps there is a distinction between personal taste and the ability to recognize beauty.

    I can recognize the beauty of Mozart, though my taste favors Bach over him.

    Yet, there is a sense in which some tastes are higher than others, and I have noticed that there is a reluctance in our culture today to cultivate taste in all things. For example, I enjoy a wide selection of food and beverages, and I have had to cultivate a taste for such things. What was once gross I now find quite enjoyable. More often than not, people will ask, “Why in the world would you try to make yourself like something that is gross?”

    One interesting note: I heard an interview once with the inventor of the pink plastic flamingo. He was a trained artist, but he decided that if he wanted to make any money, he would have to appeal to people with poor taste, because they vastly outnumber those with good taste.

  • http://bluegrasslutheran.blogspot.com Christopher Jackson

    Perhaps there is a distinction between personal taste and the ability to recognize beauty.

    I can recognize the beauty of Mozart, though my taste favors Bach over him.

    Yet, there is a sense in which some tastes are higher than others, and I have noticed that there is a reluctance in our culture today to cultivate taste in all things. For example, I enjoy a wide selection of food and beverages, and I have had to cultivate a taste for such things. What was once gross I now find quite enjoyable. More often than not, people will ask, “Why in the world would you try to make yourself like something that is gross?”

    One interesting note: I heard an interview once with the inventor of the pink plastic flamingo. He was a trained artist, but he decided that if he wanted to make any money, he would have to appeal to people with poor taste, because they vastly outnumber those with good taste.

  • Art Nocturne

    But again – what is that objective standard for beauty?

  • Art Nocturne

    But again – what is that objective standard for beauty?

  • http://thechristianstudiescenter.org Phil Tallon

    Chris,

    A good book here is Frank Burch Brown’s “Good Taste, Bad Taste and Christian Taste.”

    In this book Brown distinguishes between appreciation of aesthetic excellence and taste. Taste, as Brown parses it, has a personal dimension, and hence individuals, and Christians especially may recognize objective aesthetic excellence yet still have a distinct “taste” to their appreciations.

    Hence, though I recognize the aesthetic excellence of, say, Pendericki’s screeching music, I have yet to cultivate much taste for it.

    Christians should cultivate both aesthetic appreciation and proper Christian taste – which will discerningly recognize the objectively excellent but not desire that which is both excellent (in some sense) and also morally harmful.

  • http://thechristianstudiescenter.org Phil Tallon

    Chris,

    A good book here is Frank Burch Brown’s “Good Taste, Bad Taste and Christian Taste.”

    In this book Brown distinguishes between appreciation of aesthetic excellence and taste. Taste, as Brown parses it, has a personal dimension, and hence individuals, and Christians especially may recognize objective aesthetic excellence yet still have a distinct “taste” to their appreciations.

    Hence, though I recognize the aesthetic excellence of, say, Pendericki’s screeching music, I have yet to cultivate much taste for it.

    Christians should cultivate both aesthetic appreciation and proper Christian taste – which will discerningly recognize the objectively excellent but not desire that which is both excellent (in some sense) and also morally harmful.

  • fw

    I think this all boils down to whether one knows how to accessorize properly.

    I would vehemently assert that this is extremely objective. Ask any homosexual or metrosexual.

    On the other hand, brother Bror´s “beauty-thru-lense-of-beer-bottle may be the exact moral equivalent and indeed , the more elegant (read beautiful) expression of what I am trying to express.

    Thank you for breaking down the moral significance of beauty for me y’all.

  • fw

    I think this all boils down to whether one knows how to accessorize properly.

    I would vehemently assert that this is extremely objective. Ask any homosexual or metrosexual.

    On the other hand, brother Bror´s “beauty-thru-lense-of-beer-bottle may be the exact moral equivalent and indeed , the more elegant (read beautiful) expression of what I am trying to express.

    Thank you for breaking down the moral significance of beauty for me y’all.

  • http://4scores.blogspot.com Cap Stewart

    Dr. Veith,

    I’m very intrigued by your statement that “the three absolutes were and are Truth, Goodness, and BEAUTY.” Have you written about this elsewhere, or is there some other text I can acquire that would delve into this topic more thoroughly?

  • http://4scores.blogspot.com Cap Stewart

    Dr. Veith,

    I’m very intrigued by your statement that “the three absolutes were and are Truth, Goodness, and BEAUTY.” Have you written about this elsewhere, or is there some other text I can acquire that would delve into this topic more thoroughly?

  • The Jones

    Art Nocturne, let me take a stab at it.

    Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are all kind of intertwined. Being that the history and future is written by God and is directed ultimately toward the best end possible, Truth (the acurate corespondence to reality) is both good and beautiful. Goodness (an unmoving standard of what is right and wrong) is set and defined by God, so it is true and beautiful. Beauty (wait for it….) needs to be true (because if what we’re imagining or seeing is not true, it doesn’t exist and can’t be beautiful) and good (for if something is evil, it’s a perversion and isn’t beautiful).

    I know I’ve already put some qualifiers on Beauty before I defined it, but I did that on purpose, so hear me through a little more. Pretend something IS true and IS beautiful. Then it is also good, because each of the three depends on the other two. Beauty is the natural culmination of truth and goodness.

    Truth and Goodness are easier to recognize because of the “written on our hearts” quality of right and wrong, good and evil (goodness) and the ability to trust our senses and recognize when something coresponds with reality (truth). A beautiful thing is something that is both true and good. It is our difficulty in accurately discerning these two which sullies our view of beauty. Let me give an analogy.

    Imagine a male teenager who has lived on an island and has never seen another person before. One day a shipwrecked girl washes up on shore. She weighs 500 Pounds, has two teeth, is covered in hairy moles, is loud, demanding, and unkind, and was saved from being eaten by sharks because her smell repelled all monsters of the sea. Nevertheless, being the only woman (or human) he has ever seen, he believes her to be a beautiful woman. What he does not know is that she does not correspond to what women actually look like, and she is not very good to him either. His exclusion from society has kept him from taking into account the truth of what women actually look like and what a good woman actually does. Therefore his beauty meter is wacked. (I know kind of crazy analogy, but it’s only a starting point, here’s another one to get the point across) Hot movie star man starts dating a hot movie star girl. He believes her to be hot, therefore she is beautiful. What he doesn’t have is a good moral compass (and neither does she), and for some reason they just aren’t happy. He believed the hotness (a subjective value) to be the same thing as beauty (an objective standard). And it doesn’t fit.

    Beauty is a difficult thing to nail down and see in our culture because of the fallen nature of Man and the blindness to the truth and to righteousness that our condition brings about. You’re right to bring up the dictionary definition of beauty into the fray. A classical (and dare I say Christian) understanding of beauty is a different animal. I hope I’ve helped in explaining the idea a little, as tacky as it might have been.

  • The Jones

    Art Nocturne, let me take a stab at it.

    Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are all kind of intertwined. Being that the history and future is written by God and is directed ultimately toward the best end possible, Truth (the acurate corespondence to reality) is both good and beautiful. Goodness (an unmoving standard of what is right and wrong) is set and defined by God, so it is true and beautiful. Beauty (wait for it….) needs to be true (because if what we’re imagining or seeing is not true, it doesn’t exist and can’t be beautiful) and good (for if something is evil, it’s a perversion and isn’t beautiful).

    I know I’ve already put some qualifiers on Beauty before I defined it, but I did that on purpose, so hear me through a little more. Pretend something IS true and IS beautiful. Then it is also good, because each of the three depends on the other two. Beauty is the natural culmination of truth and goodness.

    Truth and Goodness are easier to recognize because of the “written on our hearts” quality of right and wrong, good and evil (goodness) and the ability to trust our senses and recognize when something coresponds with reality (truth). A beautiful thing is something that is both true and good. It is our difficulty in accurately discerning these two which sullies our view of beauty. Let me give an analogy.

    Imagine a male teenager who has lived on an island and has never seen another person before. One day a shipwrecked girl washes up on shore. She weighs 500 Pounds, has two teeth, is covered in hairy moles, is loud, demanding, and unkind, and was saved from being eaten by sharks because her smell repelled all monsters of the sea. Nevertheless, being the only woman (or human) he has ever seen, he believes her to be a beautiful woman. What he does not know is that she does not correspond to what women actually look like, and she is not very good to him either. His exclusion from society has kept him from taking into account the truth of what women actually look like and what a good woman actually does. Therefore his beauty meter is wacked. (I know kind of crazy analogy, but it’s only a starting point, here’s another one to get the point across) Hot movie star man starts dating a hot movie star girl. He believes her to be hot, therefore she is beautiful. What he doesn’t have is a good moral compass (and neither does she), and for some reason they just aren’t happy. He believed the hotness (a subjective value) to be the same thing as beauty (an objective standard). And it doesn’t fit.

    Beauty is a difficult thing to nail down and see in our culture because of the fallen nature of Man and the blindness to the truth and to righteousness that our condition brings about. You’re right to bring up the dictionary definition of beauty into the fray. A classical (and dare I say Christian) understanding of beauty is a different animal. I hope I’ve helped in explaining the idea a little, as tacky as it might have been.

  • Bror Erickson

    Is Beauty objective? I have to say on some level it is. I don’t think taste is objective. But at some point people distinguish between beauty and ugly. Some may find 1 painting to be more beautiful than another painting, but then all they might agree that both are beautiful, and the third is crap.
    The same way in which the Statue of David is nude, but looking at it you know this is not pornography. There is an objectiveness to the distinction, even if you can’t put your finger on it. But at somepoint there are people out there who will say no it is pornography. They are idiots the rest of the world knows it. they are delusional, so are the people who would not recognize the difference between beauty and ugly. But they do flock to the museums to see the shock value of ugly, all the while claiming it beautiful.

  • Bror Erickson

    Is Beauty objective? I have to say on some level it is. I don’t think taste is objective. But at some point people distinguish between beauty and ugly. Some may find 1 painting to be more beautiful than another painting, but then all they might agree that both are beautiful, and the third is crap.
    The same way in which the Statue of David is nude, but looking at it you know this is not pornography. There is an objectiveness to the distinction, even if you can’t put your finger on it. But at somepoint there are people out there who will say no it is pornography. They are idiots the rest of the world knows it. they are delusional, so are the people who would not recognize the difference between beauty and ugly. But they do flock to the museums to see the shock value of ugly, all the while claiming it beautiful.

  • http://www.seminaryblog.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    I saw a documentary once that talked about physical attraction between the sexes. One study took a bunch of infants and showed them photographs of various people’s faces. The responses were noted. The conclusion was that infants – who’ve no cultural or social bias – were most favorable toward what we might consider traditionally beautiful people. I seem to recall that model Cindy Crawford’s face, for instance, scored very highly. Now why would this be the case, if not for some objective inclination toward certain features?

  • http://www.seminaryblog.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    I saw a documentary once that talked about physical attraction between the sexes. One study took a bunch of infants and showed them photographs of various people’s faces. The responses were noted. The conclusion was that infants – who’ve no cultural or social bias – were most favorable toward what we might consider traditionally beautiful people. I seem to recall that model Cindy Crawford’s face, for instance, scored very highly. Now why would this be the case, if not for some objective inclination toward certain features?

  • Art Nocturne

    I appreciate the effort Jones, but it didn’t give any sort of useful definition of beauty. It was the typical moral definition of beauty, that doesn’t actually do much of anything substantial.

    You can look at an abstract painting and say it is beautiful or ugly. What sort of objective measurement can I use to judge between the two? Certainly the “beauty=true&good” idea doesn’t help much.

    What is beauty? Your definition says it is whatever is true and good. So a bacteria working in my intestine is beautiful. A pile of cow manure is beautiful. A tree is beautiful. An ocean scene is beautiful. A slug is beautiful. Just about everything physical in the world (True – accurate correspondence to reality) that is serving the purpose God set for it (Good – existing/doing according to God’s standard) is therefore beautiful (aka, True and Good).

    I’m not saying it’s a wrong statement, but it’s far too broad to be useful, and is completely useless to the idea people usually try to convey when they say something is beautiful. When people use the word “beautiful”, they are not usually trying to communicate a measurement of how True and/or Good something is.

    If you want to say Beauty=True&Good, then fine, but you’ll need to have a different word to fill what people usually mean when they say something is beautiful. (let’s use “frindle” for example). We’ll then have the exact same problem over whether or not there are objective standards of “frindle”.

  • Art Nocturne

    I appreciate the effort Jones, but it didn’t give any sort of useful definition of beauty. It was the typical moral definition of beauty, that doesn’t actually do much of anything substantial.

    You can look at an abstract painting and say it is beautiful or ugly. What sort of objective measurement can I use to judge between the two? Certainly the “beauty=true&good” idea doesn’t help much.

    What is beauty? Your definition says it is whatever is true and good. So a bacteria working in my intestine is beautiful. A pile of cow manure is beautiful. A tree is beautiful. An ocean scene is beautiful. A slug is beautiful. Just about everything physical in the world (True – accurate correspondence to reality) that is serving the purpose God set for it (Good – existing/doing according to God’s standard) is therefore beautiful (aka, True and Good).

    I’m not saying it’s a wrong statement, but it’s far too broad to be useful, and is completely useless to the idea people usually try to convey when they say something is beautiful. When people use the word “beautiful”, they are not usually trying to communicate a measurement of how True and/or Good something is.

    If you want to say Beauty=True&Good, then fine, but you’ll need to have a different word to fill what people usually mean when they say something is beautiful. (let’s use “frindle” for example). We’ll then have the exact same problem over whether or not there are objective standards of “frindle”.

  • Art Nocturne

    What makes something “beautiful” in the usual sense of the word? Sort of what Bor alludes to – look at a painting and everyone will have opinions as to whether or not a painting is beautiful.

    Let’s use http://gardenofpraise.com/images/hare.jpg and http://gardenofpraise.com/images/whistle3.jpg

    What sort of objective standard says which is more beautiful? Is there an objective standard?

  • Art Nocturne

    What makes something “beautiful” in the usual sense of the word? Sort of what Bor alludes to – look at a painting and everyone will have opinions as to whether or not a painting is beautiful.

    Let’s use http://gardenofpraise.com/images/hare.jpg and http://gardenofpraise.com/images/whistle3.jpg

    What sort of objective standard says which is more beautiful? Is there an objective standard?

  • http://www.seminaryblog.com Jason Braaten

    Thank you Dr. Veith for articulating, with more clarity and eloquence, the point I was striving to make. Thank you, also, for your reference.

    +JMB

  • http://www.seminaryblog.com Jason Braaten

    Thank you Dr. Veith for articulating, with more clarity and eloquence, the point I was striving to make. Thank you, also, for your reference.

    +JMB

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Aesthetics is a whole branch of philosophy, which is very interesting and important. We obviously don’t study it much anymore, to our great loss. We don’t even have the first principles or definitions down. Maybe I’ll conduct some “seminars” on this blog to get us started.

    The best Christian approach to aesthetics that I have found is Ruskin’s, which I talk about in my book “Painters of Faith.” I’m in a reading group here at the college discussing David Bentley Hart’s “The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth,” a very rich volume. I’ll try to report on some of things we are learning in that group.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Aesthetics is a whole branch of philosophy, which is very interesting and important. We obviously don’t study it much anymore, to our great loss. We don’t even have the first principles or definitions down. Maybe I’ll conduct some “seminars” on this blog to get us started.

    The best Christian approach to aesthetics that I have found is Ruskin’s, which I talk about in my book “Painters of Faith.” I’m in a reading group here at the college discussing David Bentley Hart’s “The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth,” a very rich volume. I’ll try to report on some of things we are learning in that group.

  • fw

    are we maybe needing to consider different kinds of beauty?

    if you look at pinups from wwII the standard of the female form of beauty is quite different from todays in important ways.

    a knarled tree might be beautiful in a certain sense.

    the knarled hands and life-worn face of a grandmother might be beautiful to her grandchildren but not by standard definition of beauty.

    sons and daughters seem to be ALWAYS beautiful to their mother.

    We are all beautiful like the beloved is to Jesus in the song of solomon. Maybe our task is to see beauty as God sees it? maybe that is the true truth so to speak?

  • fw

    are we maybe needing to consider different kinds of beauty?

    if you look at pinups from wwII the standard of the female form of beauty is quite different from todays in important ways.

    a knarled tree might be beautiful in a certain sense.

    the knarled hands and life-worn face of a grandmother might be beautiful to her grandchildren but not by standard definition of beauty.

    sons and daughters seem to be ALWAYS beautiful to their mother.

    We are all beautiful like the beloved is to Jesus in the song of solomon. Maybe our task is to see beauty as God sees it? maybe that is the true truth so to speak?

  • MarkE

    “He found a formula for drawing comic rabbits:
    This formula for drawing comic rabbits paid,
    So in the end he could not change the tragic habits for drawing
    comic rabbits made.”
    – Robert Graves

  • MarkE

    “He found a formula for drawing comic rabbits:
    This formula for drawing comic rabbits paid,
    So in the end he could not change the tragic habits for drawing
    comic rabbits made.”
    – Robert Graves

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ samuel

    I am very much enjoying this discussion, and will let wiser people explain these hard questions to me.

    But I will point people to Kenneth Myers’ excellent book “All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes” and to Schaeffer’s “Art and the Bible” and to Dr. Veith’s plethora of commentary on the subject (oh, wait, you’ve likely heard of him already) as excellent resources.

    I look forward to Dr. Veith’s seminars, and to ripping him off on my blog.
    :)

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ samuel

    I am very much enjoying this discussion, and will let wiser people explain these hard questions to me.

    But I will point people to Kenneth Myers’ excellent book “All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes” and to Schaeffer’s “Art and the Bible” and to Dr. Veith’s plethora of commentary on the subject (oh, wait, you’ve likely heard of him already) as excellent resources.

    I look forward to Dr. Veith’s seminars, and to ripping him off on my blog.
    :)

  • Booklover

    The four top money-making actresses of today must appear to the world to be beautiful. To me, however, they look quite emaciated and I would love to feed them a good dinner. My four sons, being conditioned by the world as they are, would think a Reubenesque model, or for that matter, a model from the 50′s, is positively FAT. So in some sense, beauty is conditioned, or maybe we call it “taste?”

  • Booklover

    The four top money-making actresses of today must appear to the world to be beautiful. To me, however, they look quite emaciated and I would love to feed them a good dinner. My four sons, being conditioned by the world as they are, would think a Reubenesque model, or for that matter, a model from the 50′s, is positively FAT. So in some sense, beauty is conditioned, or maybe we call it “taste?”

  • Booklover

    I am horrified at the ugliness of some church buildings–concrete monoliths, gymnasiums, all-roof structures, or re-done trailer houses. The disgusting thing is, many congregants who attend these eyesores own breathtakingly beautiful homes of their own. Jesus accepted the priceless nard from the woman with long tresses. Perhaps he also approves of beautiful churches that glorify him. It’s good that Christians are discussing such things.

  • Booklover

    I am horrified at the ugliness of some church buildings–concrete monoliths, gymnasiums, all-roof structures, or re-done trailer houses. The disgusting thing is, many congregants who attend these eyesores own breathtakingly beautiful homes of their own. Jesus accepted the priceless nard from the woman with long tresses. Perhaps he also approves of beautiful churches that glorify him. It’s good that Christians are discussing such things.

  • David Thompson

    I do not believe that there is doubt among us that there is a real beauty beyond the subjective. Phil. 4:8 implies as much. (I would not say that just because God made it, it is beautiful. I believe God made some things merely to be practical and useful and would not fit the definition of beautiful.) The difficulty we have is its definition and the criterion needed to identify it. The reason for this, I believe, is one overarching problem — the Fall, which not only introduced the opposite — ugliness — but also affected the heart and mind of man so that identification of the beautiful was not what it had been before man and nature were corrupted. Nevertheless, the fallen nature still retains some aspects of the image of God (not its holiness) so that we can somewhat confidently say, with almost total unanimity, “that scene/painting/music/etc. is beautiful and that one is ugly.” In other words, inductive reasoning attests to the reality of beauty even though it may be hard to define.

  • David Thompson

    I do not believe that there is doubt among us that there is a real beauty beyond the subjective. Phil. 4:8 implies as much. (I would not say that just because God made it, it is beautiful. I believe God made some things merely to be practical and useful and would not fit the definition of beautiful.) The difficulty we have is its definition and the criterion needed to identify it. The reason for this, I believe, is one overarching problem — the Fall, which not only introduced the opposite — ugliness — but also affected the heart and mind of man so that identification of the beautiful was not what it had been before man and nature were corrupted. Nevertheless, the fallen nature still retains some aspects of the image of God (not its holiness) so that we can somewhat confidently say, with almost total unanimity, “that scene/painting/music/etc. is beautiful and that one is ugly.” In other words, inductive reasoning attests to the reality of beauty even though it may be hard to define.

  • Art Nocturne

    I think there might be some overlapping of concepts being considered here.

    “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable….”

    This is different (related, but different) to what is usually trying to be determined when people argue over the beauty of something. Some people love Rachmaninoff’s music while others hate it. I’ve had friends who held the only music that should be played in church should be particular styles of classical music (generally by Mozart, Bach, Handel) because those styles are the most “beautiful”.

    I think that claiming that people will “confidently say, with almost total unanimity, `that scene/painting/music/etc. is beautiful and that one is ugly.’” is wildly inaccurate except at the extremes of comparisons. I’ve had people discourse with great eloquence about the beauty of heavy-metal electric guitar solos and very convincingly explain how the beauty, complexity, intricacy, profundity and marvelous sound of that electric guitar solo far exceeds that of classical music solos.

    What objective measurement is there to determine the more “beautiful” between an electric guitar solo and a violin solo.

  • Art Nocturne

    I think there might be some overlapping of concepts being considered here.

    “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable….”

    This is different (related, but different) to what is usually trying to be determined when people argue over the beauty of something. Some people love Rachmaninoff’s music while others hate it. I’ve had friends who held the only music that should be played in church should be particular styles of classical music (generally by Mozart, Bach, Handel) because those styles are the most “beautiful”.

    I think that claiming that people will “confidently say, with almost total unanimity, `that scene/painting/music/etc. is beautiful and that one is ugly.’” is wildly inaccurate except at the extremes of comparisons. I’ve had people discourse with great eloquence about the beauty of heavy-metal electric guitar solos and very convincingly explain how the beauty, complexity, intricacy, profundity and marvelous sound of that electric guitar solo far exceeds that of classical music solos.

    What objective measurement is there to determine the more “beautiful” between an electric guitar solo and a violin solo.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    What objective measurement is there to determine the more “beautiful” between an electric guitar solo and a violin solo.

    I recently started playing the violin. I can assure you that by any objective or subjective standard, my solos are not beautiful. Even my own mother would hate it at this stage.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    What objective measurement is there to determine the more “beautiful” between an electric guitar solo and a violin solo.

    I recently started playing the violin. I can assure you that by any objective or subjective standard, my solos are not beautiful. Even my own mother would hate it at this stage.


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