A Gathering Art

When was the last time you were "summoned to amazement" by Creation? Do you have natural "remembered places" that astonish you? Are you engaged in the practice of a "gathering art" as you sit outside on a simple day, or hike a mountain, or walk in the woods? Does any of this move you to love and action?

These are the underlying questions of the final chapter of Ravished by Beauty.

Pulling together ideas about "Calvin's God of beauty, mirrored in creation, and Edwards's communicative God, eagerly seeking ways of multiplying relationships [and glory]," Belden C. Lane makes his crowning pitch to those who profess a deep yearning for God: if we are moved by this yearning it will go beyond words. We will develop, as Edwards noted, "a capacity to delight."

Bringing it home with a concrete example of East St. Louis (across the river from his own residence), where Dead Creek teems with chemicals and ugliness, Lane asks us to test the measure of our delight in Creation (and ultimately in God).

Are we willing to let such places remain stripped of their "natural ability to reflect God's glory"? Are we willing to let the Dead Creeks of our world be silenced in their praise? Likewise, if it is true, as Sandra Steingraber argues in Living Downstream, that "90 percent of all forms of cancer may be attributable to specific environmental factors," can we sit by in silence as praiseless places lead to the eclipse of human voices of praise?

Lane's conclusion is sober, "Failing to exercise the consciousness I possess, I too fail to give praise."

Let us, then, he urges, join our words and actions. Let "the desire of human beings...join in God's own deep longing for beauty."

Maybe it can begin with a simple gathering art. Go outside every day. And, there, listen for the heart of God.

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Blogger Maureen said...

Lovely post. Great food for thought here.

I have a number of those unforgettables: one, the view from Table Top mountain in South Africa and, while on safari, coming into view of a magnificent pride of lions; another, driving through the Colorado mountains and having to pull off the road at the summit because the Milky Way came into sight (I've never again seen lights like that).

Art can be so compellingly, lullingly beautiful that we can forget why it's being made. I'm thinking of some of the extraordinary photographers of environmental waste, for example. They photograph the beauty in the toxic and it is utterly impelling; their reason for documenting it, though, is to raise awareness so that people will act to stop the damage we're inflicting consciously.

Your post also brings to mind the calls by some to spare us images of genocide, for example; one of the dangers of not looking is to be blind to all but what we find praise-worthy.

Blogger DouglasRYoung said...

The points you make should be a clarion call for us to seek preservation and conservation over mere consumption. Is there a greater mode through which God speaks than "the heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1, NRSV)?

Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

Always begging to see is a good place to be.


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