Last Friday I attended a screening of the independent documentary “In a Still, Small Voice,” directed by Steven Holloway. This short film explores the question of why humans create art, with reflections from leading Christian artists (including Makoto Fujimura, Chris Anderson, and Brett McCracken) on the challenges they face in their work.
The film is quite beautifully shot; and, more importantly, generated valuable discussion with the fellow Christian musicians and artists who saw it with me. I highly recommend it.
Click below to check out the trailer and a clip from the movie:
February 9, 2011 No Comments
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. . . That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can’t. They tell us that “beauty born of murmuring sound” will pass into human face; but it won’t. Or not yet. . . .
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
February 6, 2011 No Comments
One roadblock to maintaining a sense of wonder (see yesterday’s post) is that we fail to actively see what’s around us.
I remember the first day I returned back to the Northwest after my first semester of college. I felt as though my eyes had undergone perception corrective surgery. Mountains, trees, and water had never before appeared as beautiful as they did that day. Even the paint colors in my house were more vibrant — white wasn’t just white. It was more custardy in one room, and vanilla in another.
We shouldn’t have to go away for months to recognize the beauty around us. But sadly, as fallen creatures we often tune out the shouts of nature which constantly testify to the ultimate Creator.
Thankfully, with some thought and time, we can train ourselves to see with renewed perspective. In his book When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper includes advice from his former professor Clyde Kilby on how to maintain wonder at God’s creation. I think for most of us, even adding just a few of these to daily life would reap benefits (emphasis added by me):
- At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above me and about me.
- Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death, when he said: “There is darkness without and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendour, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”
- I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.
- I shall not turn my life into a thin straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.
- I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.
- I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.
- I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder.”
- I shall follow Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.
- I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, “fulfill the moment as the moment.” I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is just now.
- If for nothing more than the sake of a change of view, I shall assume my ancestry to be from the heavens rather than from the caves.
- Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life in the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega.
September 14, 2010 1 Comment