About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

What Difference Does Jesus Make to Making Art?

This morning, I listened to Brian Curry deliver his paper on Colossians 1. Although he largely summarised the basic argument of Sean McDonough’s Christ as Creator, Brian hinted at his own developing PhD thesis, which focuses on how faith in Christ as the Messiah shapes our art-making. His main point seemed to be that there is no principle weaved into the fabric of creation that can be tapped to produce art; instead, art must be crafted in connection with Christ the Messiah, in whom the universe holds together (and McDonough’s book shows how this thought might be articulated).

Brian made two comments that particularly caught my attention. First, Brian suggested that church practices show us how to live according to the grain of the universe – that is, by practising prayer, Bible-reading and so on, the faithful person lives in a way fully connected to the way the world is. Rather than being oddities, prayer, Bible-reading and (I would argue) the sacraments show us precisely the way human life is to be lived.

Secondly, Brian raised the issue of what art would look like if it participated in Christ’s victory of the lordless powers. I found this a very interesting train of thought, particularly because Brian himself seemed to focus on Christian artistic participation in Christ, whereas (to focus on popular music) I would see a so-called secular group such as Public Enemy as participating in Christ’s victory of the lordless powers, too – though maybe in the sense of anticipating Christ’s eschatological consummation of the world.

The turnout to Brian’s paper was a little disappointing – just six people, including me and Brian himself. (That can be blamed on the time of year, of course, as most theologians in Britain are no doubt sunning themselves on the beach at Margate and wearing kiss-me-kwik hats.) But when Sam Wells and Jeremy Begbie constitute a third of those present, I’m sure numbers don’t really matter.

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