18 August 2009

N. T. Wright On Beauty

Sorry for the big upcoming block quote, but I found this very inspiring and Bishop Wright says it better than I can.

[Another] feature of many communities both in the postindustrial West and in many of the poorer parts of the world is ugliness. True, some communities manage to sustain levels of art and music... which bring a richness even to the most poverty-stricken areas. But the shoulder-shrugging functionalism of postwar architecture, coupled with the passivity born of decades of television, has meant that for many people the world appears to offer little but bleak urban landscapes, on the one hand, and tawdry entertainment, on the other. And when people cease to be surrounded by beauty, they cease to hope. They internalize the message of their eyes and ears, the message which whispers that they are not worth very much, that they are in effect less than fully human.

Part of the role of the church in the past was--and could and should be again--to foster and sustain lives of beauty and aesthetic meaning at every level, from music making in the village pub to drama in the local primary school, from artists' and photographers' workshops to still-life painting classes, from symphony concerts... to driftwood sculptures. The church, because it is the family that believes in hope for new creation, should be the place in every town and village where new creativity bursts forth for the whole community, pointing to the hope that, like all beauty, always comes as a surprise.

I've taken these excerpts from Surprised By Hope which I'm still working through. I don't agree with Bishop Wright on every point, but he has opened my eyes to some new ways of viewing several areas of my faith. This chapter, which the above quoted material only begins to touch, on the mission of the church really resonated with me. I'd recommend this book to all.



Jason said...

Dude, that guy is flippin' brilliant. Thanks for the block quote. I need to get that book...the next time I'm in the U.S., I guess. Aren't you [tempted to be] jealous of Furnal, getting to go hang out with Wright for a year? In England, no less, so there's 2 reasons for you to playa hate. And that's supposed to be 'player', but spelled in a more phonemic way, not 'beach' in Spanish.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Colson in Breakpoint made a similar point that the church is supposed to champion beauty to reveal God. I remember thinking art was a fringe element until I went to a large art museum and found that excellence through art speaks of God in a way nothing else can. Good thoughts!