Sunday, February 2, 2014

Christian aesthetics

Recently, Bruce Springsteen said that he had an appreciation for the language and music he learned growing up Catholic, even if he doesn't agree with the theology and doctrine
And it was a wonderful source of metaphor when you went to write about the world and about your inner life and it served me. I suppose looking back on it, I would like to change some things but I wouldn’t have had that any other way in that it’s served me very, very well and continues to do so. 

Writer TJ Holland points out that über atheist Richard Dawkins also expressed a fondness for the aesthetic aspects of Anglicanism. He writes,
What should Christians make of such (unexpected?) appreciation for the aesthetics, sensibilities, and cultural contributions of our faith, while the substance behind those contributions is largely or wholly dismissed? Is this good, to an extent? Or is it entirely bad, with the dismissal of the substance canceling out any possible value in the appreciation for the aesthetic? 
I have two hands, so I’ll make a point for each and leave it at that. 
On the one hand, appreciating the aesthetic beauty of Christianity—awe-inspiring architecture or gospel music or liturgy or what have you—is certainly not the same thing as embracing Christianity itself. (Many of us, from various Christian traditions, would do well to be reminded of that from time to time.) 
On the other hand, could it be that for some, the Spirit uses aesthetics to woo even those who for various reasons have found certain claims and/or norms of the faith to be stumbling blocks?

1 comment:

JCF said...



I was recently mistaken for an atheist over at JoeMyGod, so, y'know, it all goes around (and comes around).