Friday, May 12, 2023

A crayon and a piece of paper. . .

The sad truth is that what often passes as art today would have been posted on the fridge as a child's budding attempt to draw or paint.  A careful mom might have packed it all up in box to give to her son or daughter at some point in their adult life but most of them end up in the garbage, replaced by the newer, better, and more skilled editions.  Sadly, there are no moms around today to tell the wannabe artists that their work needs work and so many of them never get beyond the crayon and paper stage.  You might wonder what kind of art could be produced if only they worked at improving their craft.  But art is no longer about practice and improvement and it is all about raw, crude, and often perverted self-expression.  It is as if the modern artist is sticking a certain middle finger up at the world while they rush to the bank to cash the checks of those who saw the emperor's clothes. 

While there was a time when much if not most art was religious in subject, the art that bothers with religion today, especially Christianity, loves to trash, belittle, and blaspheme the sacred.  In this the middle finger is lifted not toward the buyer whose padded pockets make it all possible but to the God who has given His one and only Son to be our Savior and Lord.  Years ago it was more basic -- stick a crucifix in a beaker of urine and call it done.  Now they actually work at the art but use everything from dung to semen in their multimedia displays of shame.  Inevitably, there is some erotic, generally homoerotic, image hidden or obvious in their work.  Take that, the holy and might God of heaven and earth!  All of the blasphemy is validated with the price fetched by these things (I hesitate to call it art) and by the prizes awarded -- seemingly for being the most outrageous of all.

I wish I could say that this movement in art is driven by a fad or trend -- post-modernism.  It is not fueled by an artistic style or even a phenomenon.  It is nothing less than the chaotic triumph of a worldview devoid of real values and intent upon exploiting outrage.  Sure, some of the artists claim to be acting out of the typical dead sleep now called wokism but it does seem that some delight in chaos, in dispute, and in conflict.  While there may be some personal satisfaction in telling the folks, faiths, or classes you despise to go to you know where, it hardly equates either to art or erudition unless we have not evolved past the temper tantrum or the stick figure on the fridge.  In both cases, it is high time we told the critics and the artists to grow up.  For all the clamor for a new beginning, the folks who delight in tearing down what was offer scant positive structures on which a fresh start might be built.

In contrast to those who identify as artists, Christianity is a positive religion and a profound faith that fosters just that -- a new beginning.  Now in the waning stages of Easter, that new beginning is heard and celebrated in the only One who killed death and rose to grant new and everlasting life.  It was this hope that once was the subject of the greatest of artists and artisans and it offered the promise of beauty amid the ugliness of sin and its death.  It is high time that Christians reclaimed the rightful high ground and offered a significant alternative to the putrid and rancid death that modern art has supplied.  We will not win the world over only by beauty but with words of hope and promise that proclaim the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus as well as the visual canvas that reflects that same profound hope, we will at least show the world another vision besides the self-expression that reveals the erotic and perverted as humanity's last best hope.