Today I attended day 1 of the Transforming Culture Symposium here in ATX. This morning I heard Andy Crouch give this speech... THE GOSPEL: In what way is art a gift, a calling, and an obedience. I thought it pretty much rocked and wanted to share my notes with you... Plus Andy exegeted Genesis which I lurve and he recited one of my favorite poems, The Red Wheelbarrow.
Read Genesis 2:4-15
Culture is what we make of the world in both senses
-the stuff we make from it
-the sense we make of it
Genesis 2 is "creatio ex creatis" - making something of something. The first gardener is God and culture is the first thing God gives to Adam. Culture is God's idea.
"Pleasant to the sight and good for food"... nourishment and beauty.
"the gold of the land is good"... list of precious and natural resources whose only real value is in their beauty. The world is even better than it appears! These are hidden beneath, dormant. Their beauty is seen when someone finds them, pulls them out and does something with them.
to "know good and evil" is NOT to "be wise"... That's not what God said. This is where culture oversteps - Adam and Eve use the world to replace a relationship with God.
"they sewed fig leaves together"... culture (clothing) is now (sadly) used to hid exposure. The leaves become functional - protection from one another, those who once were "bone of my bone" are now cut off from one another...
Following Genesis 3 comes murder, binge drinking, tool-making, etc.
BUT despite this, the Creator STAYS engaged and continues to create from creation, even to the point of becoming creation: he took, he blessed, he broke, and he gave! Bread and Wine are culture, not just creation. They become the sign and presence of God in the world.
Do we believe that culture is a gift, a calling?
Can it be taken, blessed and given?
Art: aspects of culture that cannot be reduced to utility. It is not useless but inutile. Not a means to an end, but an end.
Why use a carefully crafted sentence when a stupid one will work? Why put wallpaper on a wall already there? ART.
Beware religious utility! Religion is not a means to an end. What if the world is a gift? What if God is infinately more invested in us than we are in ourselves? What if we don't sacrifice something to attract the attention of God, but rather God becomes the sacrifice?
Will worship be for us a response to grace or an article of persuasion?
Great questions and thoughts for all engaged in faith and culture or faith and art conversations...