The Desire for Beauty

think_different_apple-wide (1)Apple is celebrating 30 years of making Apple products, from Macs to ipods, iphones and Ipads. The video of this is worth watching. Apple prides itself on creativity, thinking differently and changing the world. Their products are not just easy to use but beautiful. They understand the importance of image and desire. It isn’t just about function, but its about design and wrapping people up in that image, unleashing their creative potential.

I am currently reading a book called iGods by Craig Detweiler where he explains the history behind Apple and the vision that Steve Jobs had. Apple was, where computers were concerned, the first to tap into the human need to create and to be creative. It rides against the idea of simply putting your nose to the grindstone, work continuously in environments of dullness and spreadsheets which will eventually strip the soul bare and suffocate our creativeness.

Apple to is showing us something here, which is at the heart of all of us.

Humanity desires beauty.

It needs a space to create. It desires to be creative. Now I don’t think Apple is the only one doing this now and this isn’t some strange promotion of Apple products. But I have been thinking about the human desire to create, to fill the earth and subdue it. To wonder at beauty and enjoy things for enjoyment sake.

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There is something very Genesis 1&2 about it. We are children copying our Father who delights in creating things with His Son.

It starts off in the Garden with the beauty of Eden and then the beauty of mankind. It trickles through to the tabernacle and the temple. The Lord anoints men and women to be artists and craftsmen.

“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” Exodus 31v2-4

And even when the Lord takes on flesh, he enters the world to take up a creative trade before his years of preaching ministry. In iGods, Craig says:

“Jesus was a craftsman by trade. Having built the universe, it seems fitting that, as a human being, he would turn to building houses or furniture”

Beauty and creativity isn’t something that should be kicked out of Christianity. In our art, our designs, our poetry, story telling, video games, films, fliers and books we reflect our creative Trinity. I know we distort it too. Genesis 3 did happen.

But Christianity shouldn’t be about dullness. But sometimes it is. Our fliers, book covers, music and sermons can sometimes drip with dullness that sucks away life.

falmouthCU

The world doesn’t want to look into greyness. It needs to look into a world of beauty, colours, design and aesthetics which are not shallow or simply consumed. They must reflect the beauty of the most beautiful one, Jesus Christ, who allures us in. It’s a hard balance, either we are tempted to strip beauty bare and settle with the world of grey or we slap on fluorescent colour and neon lights which are as empty as what they find in the world.

Beauty needs to have depth. It needs Gospel truth and gazing at the beautiful one.

For example beautiful fliers, like the ones Falmouth CU do, capture the audience and displays to the world that we are reflecting a creator God and we would like you to meet Him.

Even in our suffering there can be beauty. In the depths of despair, Jesus who encapsulates all beauty is with us and walks with us.

Waste_Land-posterEven out of the Wastelands, beauty and art can be formed. From the rubbish tip we see the waste of the world, the rubbish that stinks and no one thinks any good can come out of it. Yet it’s turned and transformed into something beautiful. Likewise as Jesus takes the Bride who is dirty and full of shame  he transforms her into something beautiful:

“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5v25 -27

Humanity yearns for true beauty. Not stick thin stuff or glossy magazine covers. But rich, in-depth beauty that takes the broken and the hurting and shows them the One who can clothe them in Splendour.

And so…It is good to enjoy art and film. It is good to enjoy books and video games. It is good to enjoy design and a product. It is good to enjoy music and dance. Not for them to become idols we consume to complete us. But to be objects that we enjoy because we are in the image of a creator God and because someone else who is in His image has created something to be enjoyed and interacted with.

And because beauty isn’t bad and those things we create are simply reflecting what’s happening on a bigger scale; A creative bridegroom who is making us more and more beautiful everyday.

Be-Engaging: Black Mirror

blackmirror I have recently been watching Black Mirror and some of the shows within the series. It’s written by Charlie Brooker and recently the second series has been on our TV’s. Charlie Brooker in each episode gives us a glimpse of the dark reality of technology and how we use it today, he comments that:

“If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a Charlie Brookerdrug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The “black mirror” of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”[1]

It is a very clever series of short films about different areas of technology and the side effects of them. It makes you feel uncomfortable as you watch in horror at the things that shadow reality. Some of the themes that are picked up through the episodes are really interesting and I want to explore those themes within the three episodes that I have watched so far: 15 Million Merits, The Entire History of You and Be right Back. There are more episodes but I have yet to watch them. I will be writing these posts over this week, hope you enjoy them.

Talking with art students

I am no expert in art. I like some art, I like engaging with it and looking at it etc. As Christians I think we need to encourage our brothers and sisters who are artists or art students in our churches. So I want to bring to your attention a great blog written by two of my friends on staff who are reaching art students on their patch and they are engaging with art in an amazing way. Why not check them out here:

http://uccf-arts.blogspot.co.uk/

Here are some fab quotes from the blog to wet your appetite:

“We are passionate about seeing Christian art students live wholeheartedly for Jesus: both in the way that you create,  and also in the way that you do life at art college.  We pray that this blog will bless, encourage and resource you to get digging deeper into gospel truths, and delight all the more in the gifts God has given you.”

“Artists are societies’ visionaries or to quote Mark ‘society’s equivalent of specsavers’!  As artists we help people to see what they don’t naturally see.  We are more deliberate in feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting, and sensing the world around us because we study it in a more intense and deliberate way, and so we are making people see more of what’s around them.”

“Whether you are based in an art college, a university, or an office, they all have a culture of their own which has been produced by the people of that place over years.  Do you ask questions of the cultures you live in?  Are you contributing in a Godly way to your cultures, or are you just going with the flow?  Are you mindful of what you paint, sing, dance, design?  Cultural history is easily read through the art of the time so we really do have a great responsibility as the current generation of Christians making art.  Let us have dominion, make work and live lives that produce a cross shaped culture.”

The need for christian artists

A wonderful quote from Tim Keller that I would like to share with you:

The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination ‘gets you,’ even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. ‘Imagination communicates,’ as Arthur Danto says, ‘indefinable but inescapable truth.’ Those who read a book or listen to music expose themselves to that inescapable truth. There is a sort of schizophrenia that occurs if you are listening to Bach and you hear the glory of God and yet your mind says there is no God and there is no meaning. You are committed to believing nothing means anything and yet the music comes in and takes you over with your imagination. When you listen to great music, you can’t believe life is meaningless. Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk.

I think Keller highlights something really important here about Christians and Art. He is echoing CS Lewis and Francis Schaeffer on this as well. But great music and great art can’t lead you to believe life is meaningless because they express something of the reality we are in – the need of a saviour. What better people to show them the true saviour then christian artists in our churches?

Yet we often celebrate those that can stand up and preach, those that can stand up and lead sung worship on Sunday and those that do cold contact evangelism. I am drawing a distinction between those that lead sung worship and those that play in pubs/clubs etc because I think the audience is different and perhaps the purpose as well. Although they are both artists. But what I am really thinking about is what about our artists in the world? Those that draw, take photographs, cook great food, write poetry, write novels, sketch, make models etc for the world to see…yet they often get the back seat. But the church needs them, because these people are speaking into the culture we are in and they are engaging with it in a different way. The are reaching people who the preacher alone could never reach.

But it’s also not about creating a christian sub-culture with your t-shirts and wrist bands, but it’s about creating art that speaks truth and hope into a culture that needs and wants a saviour.

Lets celebrate our christian artists and encourage them. Lets get the church releasing them into the world so that they can speak truth through their art.

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Some really great stuff out there in the web world:

An honest blogpost from Tanya Marlow and her story of how she is learning to trust. Just a great post.

When your blog is not on a Blog Roll… ah yes I can understand Anita!! I feel like this sometimes when I look at someones blog who I read and follow and I notice I am not on their blog roll!! WHY! This post is honest and great.

Btw both Anita and Tanya are on fire at the mo with their blogging, I am really enjoying reading their stuff.

This post was written a few weeks ago by Krish Kandia – Is christianity supposed to be masculine? I think it’s a brilliant, humble, biblical response to what John Piper wrote about Christianity.

Here is a wonderful how-to-guide on how to make a Latte and a pretty foam picture on top of it (you know  how you get those pictures on your coffee in the shape of a leaf, tree and your Auntie Mable etc?) Here is how you can do it at home!!!

And lastly here is a wonderful video of these guys singing composers names in the style of their music! it’s a bit long but worth watching!!!

The infinite Artist

“What is the world? What is it for? It is art. It is the best of all possible art, a finite picture of the infinite. Assess it like prose, like poetry, like architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, delta blues, opera, tragedy, comedy, romance, epic.

Assess it like you would a Fabergé egg, like a gunfight, like a musical, like a snowflake, like a death, a birth, a triumph, a love story, a tornado, a smile, a heartbreak, a sweater, a hunger pain, a desire, a fulfillment, a desert, a dessert, an ocean, a leap, a quest, a fall, a climb, a tree, a waterfall, a song, a race, a frog, a play, a marriage, a consummation, a thirst quenched.

Assess it like that. And when you’re done, find an ant and have him assess the cathedrals of Europe. This painting is by an infinite Artist. It is a reflection of Himself (could there be a better subject?), worked out in colors, lives, and constellations, in a universe that to us seems endless but is to Him a mere frame, a small space, a confining challenge for His artistry.

The temporal narrative of reality is every Art– invented and collected and woven into one cosmic, finite portrait of the infinite.”

–N.D. Wilson, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl

A collection of Webs (4)

Well Halloween is coming very soon and no doubt everybody has their piece to say, especially Christians… yet one of my colleagues, Peter Dray has written three posts on Why God loves Halloween. Yup a different spin on things! Worth a read.

Over at Redeemed Mind Apologetics, Dan asks what our worldview is. I enjoyed tracing through the different options and outcomes! Which worldview are you? Have you ever tried this on the public to find out what they believe, it proves to be quite interesting and you can have some great conversations through it!

If you are a student and have exams. These top 10 tips for study may help you!

Was the name of Jesus declared by Moses?

Here is some really cool coffee art.

Lastly, check out Rob Ryan. An artist that makes incredible books and stories. Here is an interview with him… And here is a video of him working. And here is one of his pictures: