Art: bearable pain, prolonged joy

I am in the midst of reading my first work by Dr. Leland Ryken: Culture in Christian Perspective: A Door to Understanding and Enjoying the Arts (1986). This title has a tendency of popping up as highly recommended over the years, and I finally got around to it. Dr. Gordon alone has recommended it a few times. Worth the wait, I will say! Ryken writes in compelling, lucid prose, arguing for a prominent place of the arts among Christians. He touches especially on art as it relates to truth, beauty, and creativity. I enjoy Ryken’s style very much for its positive, clear, and flowing style that is easy to follow. He presents his arguments clearly, effectively, and biblically. It’s not a negative, reactive book like Ken Myers’ All God’s Children of the same era, but it does have some similarities. I highly recommend it. Look for more quotations in the future.

A rich confusion of awareness lies below the level of our consciousness. Artists reach into that confusion and give it an order. As we stand before a painting or listen to music or read a poem, we suddenly see our own experiences and insights projected onto the details of the work before us. Artists turn our pain into art so we can bear it. They turn our joys into art so we can prolong them. In song and statue, poem and painting, artists give shape to the affirmations and denials of the human race. By nature we long to express and confirm what we know. (p. 32)

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