Having Something More to Say

I actually have two things in mind. First, the proponents of theme-less fiction or at best unintentional themes, say that God receives glory because of the artistic quality of the work.

I take issue with that position on several levels. First, when Scripture talks about beauty, the passage that some use as a proof text to support the idea of art intrinsically glorifying God actually says nothing of the kind. I’m referring to the passage in Exodus where Moses receives instructions for the building of the tabernacle and making the priestly garments: “You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty” (Ex. 28:2)

Clearly, the holy garments served the purpose of glorifying God but they were also to be beautiful. In other words, they were functional and artistic. Their God-glorifying capacity didn’t arise from their beauty. Otherwise, I suspect the golden calf mentioned some chapters later would have been classified as God-glorifying instead of idolatrous.

I also take issue with the position that theme-less stories will glorify God by their artistic merit. I do not believe that theme-less stories are artistic.

When a theme is well-crafted, it is woven into the fabric of a story in such a way that the reader is not clubbed over the head. At the same time, if someone asks what the author was saying, most readers will be able to give their own version of the author’s vision. It’s not a secret, not so subtle as to be missed.

Non-Christians who did not recognize the Christian symbolism in Narnia nevertheless understood Lewis was saying sacrifice triumphs over evil.

A true artist will handle theme in such a way as to preserve and protect it while enhancing it all along the way. It needs a gentle hand and firm intention, subtle strokes and adept suggestions.

Stories with Something To Say take thought and care and planning and patience and … artistic skill. They are more than paint on a canvas. They become pictures that convey life and truth and yes, beauty.

Published in: on September 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm  Comments (4)  
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