I’ve got some things on my mind these days, and flipping through some recent notes on “things I want to revisit someday,” I came across something I want to revisit. (Shocker, I know.)
So I’m heading to Wendell Berry again for today’s Sabbath meditation*.
By ‘art’ I mean all the ways by which humans make the things they need. If we understand that no artist–no maker–can work except by reworking the works of creation, then we see that by our works we reveal what we think of the works of God. How we take our lives from this world, how we work, what work we do, how well we use the materials we use, and what we do with them after we have used them–all these are questions of the highest and gravest religious significance. In answering them, we practice, or do not practice, our religion. [swiped from p. 315, “Christianity and the Survival of Creation,” in Berry’s essay collection ART OF THE COMMONPLACE, edited by Norman Wirzba]
There’s a lot in this quote worth unpacking, I think, or at least worth taking a few minutes to meditate on: the implications for defining art in this way, in terms of need and creativity; the implications for defining what it means to practice our religion in terms of these questions about our creativity and use of the material world; even the tightening of the chest you might feel, as I do, when you see the phrase “or do not practice” thrown in there.
Take a minute.
* I’m slightly concerned that citing Wendell Berry might qualify me as a Christian hipster. (Click on the link to see Everyday Liturgy’s recent book review of Brett McCracken’s Hipster Christianity, or visit the Hipster Christianity web site if such a concept piques your interest.)