(ht: Dr. Paul Hartog)

Just finished. This is a must read if you care about Aesthetics: William Edgar’s article on Aesthetics. A small section:

In their own way, evangelical Christians have joined the opposition to aesthetics. The most common form is a pragmatism, which argues that evangelism is prior to cultural pursuits. There are many variants on this. Fundamentalists, for example, present a fascinating paradox. Some identify artistic pursuit with worldliness, and thus center the discussion on boundaries: May we go to the movies? May we play folk music in church? Can a Christian be a professional actor? Others would allow pursuing artistic endeavors, indeed they would celebrate them, on condition that they be ‘excellent.’ Here, the discussion is centered on questions of artistic merit: is not classical music the only legitimate kind? Should not our museums feature only the great masters? Ironically, though, both sides of the fundamentalist approach neglect deeper aesthetic concerns. The first eschews them, the second contains them in a small ‘highbrow’ box.”

10 thoughts on “Aesthetics”

  1. Two quotes:”Augustine led the way and the medieval church folded beauty-as-harmony into its theological universe.””Seerveld challenges the propriety of using beauty in this way, because it confuses the biblical teaching on God’s glory with Greek metaphysics.”

  2. Seerveld makes the interesting point that though the ideal of the sublime would lead to the problematic romantic cult of the genius and of originality, yet it accomplished something quite positive as well. The move was a sort of transcendental critique against a very limited classical view of beauty, one which had narrowed aesthetic ideals to Plato’s harmony. With this new ‘‘beauty-sensitivity’’ one could question the propriety of reducing beauty to harmony. In fact, there had been a confusion of spheres, because harmony is closer to mathematics than to aesthetics, in Seerveld’s judgment.

  3. You seem to be rather excited about Seerveld, but even Wm Edgar says that “Surely Seeveld has given away too much” (121). Are you going to trust someone who goes around defining art as, “The symbolical objectification of certain meaning aspects of a thing, subject to the law of allusivity”? I mean, here is a man who wants to throw out the idea of beauty altogether. No thanks. You can keep your Seeveld.

  4. Fair enough, what I do appreciate about Seerveld is that he has opened our avenues of understanding when it comes to beauty. You seem to place a lot of emphasis on Plato, whose understanding of aesthetics is completely mathematical. That idea just does not square with a biblical view of cultural diversity. So while Seerveld may not solve my problems, I like the direction he is going more than I like Platonic ideals.

  5. Ravi Zacharias once said something like this, “It’s not availability or lack of availability of truth, but the hypocrisy of our search. Intent is prior to content.” Such is often our approach to beauty. We can often agree philosopically, but when the rubber meets the road our true colors often come out. What I’m saying is this: If I finally achieved the perfect philosophy of art, people still believe what they want to believe – whether they line up with Frank Garlock or Derek Webb. Does this make any sense? Such are my initial thoughts – possibly more later.

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