Friday, April 25, 2008

the upside of ugly

Something positive may have come out of the abortion art antics. Consider that it makes Christian offers to write the art world a blank check look increasingly ridiculous. In short, the Tillichian paradigm, which I've tried to criticize here and more recently here (self-link: drink!), has passed its expiration date.

Things, however, may be changing. I'm aware of no "Go sister" Christian endorsements (if they're out there, don't tell me). Moreover, new confidence can be found in insightful analyses from First Things and Image. Ian Marcus Corbin laments the intellectual disarmament that incapacitates Shvarts' would-be critics, and Lucas Kwong bemoans the eclipse of art as "an autonomous object of beauty, subject to neither politics nor profit."

Add these to Dan Siedell's directing us toward a more Pauline (the apostle, that is) mode of engagement, and we have an encouraging prognosis of Christians and contemporary art. Not grumpy, but guarded; not yelling, but yawning; not seeking to siphon, but to give.

UPDATE: Michael J. Lewis chimes in with some measured reflections:
"It is often said that great achievement requires in one's formative years two teachers: a stern taskmaster who teaches the rules and an inspirational guru who teaches one to break the rules. But they must come in that order. Childhood training in Bach can prepare one to play free jazz and ballet instruction can prepare one to be a modern dancer, but it does not work the other way around. One cannot be liberated from fetters one has never worn; all one can do is to make pastiches of the liberations of others."