Sunday, February 06, 2011

Points of contact between art, religion and Christian faith

Extract of article "Art from the Christian point of view" by theologist Beat Rink 

Not only in Christianity are there many points of contact between art and religion. Without art, no cult, no divine service and no Christian church history is conceivable. On the other hand, the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt can say that
“I believe there is no artist who is not a believer. Not necessarily in a denominational sense. I can think of absolutely no really important artist who really believes that his outstanding abilities are due to himself.” (1)
To name some of these points of contact: art and religion promote community. Art and religion are concerned with the “inner reality” and the “hidden truth”. Wherever, on the contrary, they become primarily concerned with surface effects, they deny their own essence. Art and religion are holistic and therefore convey more than a truth to be grasped purely intellectually. No-one goes into a church, concert-hall or museum in order to “understand” in a purely intellectual sense. This is also reflected in the fact that art and religion reckon with sources of inspiration that lie outside one’s comprehension and are not at one’s own disposal. They are open for the spiritual, and directly or indirectly for God’s Spirit.

There are also points of contact between (good) art and the Christian faith, regardless of whether this art was created by a Christian or not: creative artists know about the inner connection between love and beauty anyway (2). In both areas, the “general” is relegated to the background behind the “individual”: divine love creates individually (3) and is directed primarily towards the individual. Every work of art is unique and sharpens our perception for the individual and particular (4) Love and beauty know of the mystery of the “incarnate”: that the spirit takes on tangible form. Both point towards the New Creation and to new creating.

  1. In an interview in the SPIEGEL of 9th February 2009
  2. The Hebrew word for “good” (“and God saw that it was good” in the story of the Creation) also means “beautiful”. God creates for his creatures, in love, a good and beautiful space for living.
  3. “Each according to its kind” is God’s creative principle.
  4. Whereas works such as Andy Warhol’s, which result from an entirely series production process and usually make the individual subordinate to the general, are hardly great art.