Edge of Faith March 2017 - Page 10

when I find God to be extraordinary, gratuitous, and extravagant.The so-called extra reality of God’s dimension. It cannot be explained just by usefulness, or at least pragmatic use. So, I tend to think of art and beauty as a way to open a door to that —God’s reality, which again, is in categories. In some ways, you find the most enduring things in what is ‘useless’, at least in short term, but long term, we find these things that we cannot define, we cannot certainly commoditize and market, to be the most enduring things. Art belongs in that category. True artists are ones that are stalking the borders of culture and they are setting their antennae, picking up signals of the universe that continues to speak in mystery and to me, gratuitous beauty of God, extravagant beauty of God. I believe that is at the heart of the Gospel as well. God doesn’t need us, you know.

Right.

But, God loves us. God created us, not so that we can be useful, but so that we can be enjoyed by God. We have, I think especially in the twentieth century, made it into a more industrial model of how we approach theology. That reduces God’s message to us. Artists are the ones that, to me, that keep some of that alive. I find works by Endo or Flannery O’Connor, any enduring works, tend to have those characteristics.

Right, absolutely. And the fact that we come from a Creator, that is where we enjoy creativity —whether we are the artist or the enjoyer thereof.

That’s right. We were all called to create and to be makers, that is part of the imprint that we have from the Creator God.

That is truly amazing.

Yes.

I believe you mentioned a couple in “Silence and Beauty,” but who were some of your personal inspirations or favorite artists?

I have mentioned, in the book, William Blake, who was a very instrumental English poet and engraver

But, God loves us. God created us, not so that we can be useful, but so that we can be enjoyed by God.

Beautiful. Could you speak a little bit as a theologian now as to why you find art to be necessary in Christianity?

Well, the word “necessary” is maybe a tricky word.

Maybe strong?

Well, no it is just very utilitarian.

We tend to judge the value of something by its usefulness today,