GOD AND THE FINE ART
Anglican Morning Devotion for 11 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
(edited from a more complete devotion of 2016)
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
In the years of my childhood, I considered the writing of men such as Shakespeare to be silly and trivial; and the great works of art by Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt to be vulgar and without meaning; and the musical genius of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, and Mozart simply to be productions of erratic noise. I was not aware, at that age, that it was I who was silly, trivial, vulgar, and capable of producing my share of meaningless noise. One day I came into the possession of a wonderful Mirror that revealed to me all of my ugliness, and my ignorance of true beauty. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:23-25)
A leading purpose of real art is to mirror the beauty of God’s Creation, and not to mar it. Unfortunately, that principle has been long forgotten in the minds and brushes of the modern artist who mimics the decadent Picasso instead of emulating the inspiration of Jean-François Millet. The modern novelist, or playwright, has been conditioned to believe the more pornographic material he can include, the better. And the great patterns for hymns and uplifting music of which the Book of Psalms are the ultra-standard example have been rejected and discarded as quaint, old-fashioned, and not capable of helping us to “find our groove” – whatever on earth THAT means. So, our great and classic hymns of the past gather dust as the modern church opts for the very music that cannot lift our souls to the gates of Heaven, or glorify the God of Beauty and Order at all. The church has chosen to follow the ways of the world in music, teaching, worship, and community. How sad would be the ancient fathers of the church, and the Great Reformers of the 15th and 16th centuries who gave their bodies to be burned in order to preserve truth and reverence in worship!
When I go shopping for commentaries of the Bible, I never purchase one of those written in the modern day. I always select those that are perhaps at least one hundred years old. Perhaps that is why my writing itself is a bit quaint. But I find that the works of older and more ancient writers are not infected with ambition for wealth, for political acceptance, or denominational compromise.
No one doubts the sculptured beauty of the statue of David by Michelangelo. Such a work was not executed overnight, but after long hours of intense study of the human form in which God created man. The detail of every proportional limb and muscle is precise. This is so because Michelangelo believed true art should attempt to re-create the beauty of God’s own.
There is, I believe at the Louvre in Paris, a sculpture that depicts, in perfect dimension, the Hand of God in forming man. One can visualize the touch of the great Artist of Heaven as He forms man from clay. Rodin, who was the sculptor, said: “When God created the world, it is of modeling He must have thought first of all.”
Art, up through the Renaissance, gave evidence of greater and growing skill at accurately representing the beauty of God’s Creation. The artist had always strived, from the cave drawings to the ancient icons, to accurately show the beauty and detail of God’s work. But with the advent of so-called modern art, art devolved into a sad morass of degradation and decadence – led by such men as Picasso.
Who would dare claim that the work of da Vinci was not touched by divine inspiration? He was seven years in painting the Last Supper mural on the walls of the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy. This art piece went a step further than all previous works of art in several categories. For example, this painting captures, not only da Vinci’s best sense of the scene in the Upper Room, but also an instant in time – the moment that Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me!” (John 13:21) The shock and surprise on the faces of the Apostles is remarkable. They wondered “Is it I?” demonstrating that man knows not his own heart, but God does! Furthermore, da Vinci employed a new technique called “Point Perspective.” All lines on the floor and ceiling converge to a point in Eternity just behind the Mind of Christ. Due to this perspective, all eyes (as da Vinci intended) cannot help being drawn directly to Christ at first glance. How many artist of our day are capable of such thought and meaning? Instead, in our day, devolution of beauty is the object instead of evolution of it. Degeneracy is the goal, and not the beauty of God’s Creation. Satan is very busy in every field of art, isn’t he?