Thursday, December 07, 2006


A while back, I posted about humility found in true artists. My statement ultimately, was that artistry is dependent on humility. Humility is the single attribute found consistently among artists. This is in direct contradiction to the conventional wisdom concerning folks with an artistic temperament. Numerous books have been written to help understand artists, but the profile given in the books is precisely not consistent with a true artist. We’ve come to think of artists as high maintenance, extroverted, egocentric, megalomaniacs. I do know several high maintenance, extroverted, egocentric, megalomaniacs, but none of the artists I know are any of those things. The problem is that we’ve too broadly applied the term artist. But I’ve said all this before, I’m repeating myself redundantly.

I thought about this all again today when I read a comment on my photo of last night’s moon rising over our house. The comment said, “His beauty leaves me breathless…” I began to think about being left breathless by beauty that can’t be comprehended. We try to capture that beauty and fail. But the embraced failure could possibly be the definitive factor in art. Perhaps every work of art contains an ellipsis. There is more than could be captured, contained, or understood. The purpose of this meager representation is merely to cause you to ponder what is there, but couldn’t be captured. This work is a glass through which we see dimly, but piques contemplation and hope for what can’t be seen and provides clues to the greater picture.
The striving of an artist to capture the beauty of God is doomed to failure. This is a very humbling endeavor. Artists are constantly reminded of their limitations. Artists have the ability to create a box with an open lid and show us what it can’t contain.
I believe this is why the written Revelation is so full of poetry. God can’t be contained in profiles and information. The complete and adequate revelation shows us how incomplete our understanding, and inadequate our language.
Sadly though, (and I’m know I’m restating again) it seems as if the poetry and art has been dissected and explained to the point that it no longer serves to point to something more, but rather it becomes the very box to contain God. This causes the opposite of humility. We become arrogant when we think we’ve got it all figured out.
If a painting, or photo, or piece of music claims to represent the beauty of God, rather than celebrate what it can’t be, it is not art.
Perhaps this is why there is such a danger in our theology. We see it as a study, and study is academic, and so we learn but don’t see. When our learning ceases to make us aware that there is so much we don’t know we lose humility. We create boxes that are almost always smaller than ourselves.

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