I know you’re all busy reading about Sir Harry Potter and figuring out who died, so I’ll make this short. When you’re done, come on back and leave a comment or something.
I wanted to draw our attention to a statement made recently on the Mars Hill Audio site by Ken Myers about the importance of arts to a full appreciation of creation (and shame on me for not mentioning the Audio Journal before which is chock full of fun goodies this month–sign up at the website):
"What would happen if theologically conservative Christians were noted for their commitment to improving arts education in public schools more than for their opposition to the teaching of evolution? Is it possible that a commitment to a well-trained imagination is a necessary asset in properly apprehending the kind of thing Creation is?"
A "well-trained imagination" seems like a worthwhile subject to explore. In an essay for The Christian Imagination, Leland Ryken points out that the writer of Ecclesiastes made a similar proposition about the teaching of literature specifically, "Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth" (12:9-10, ESV). Can we equate imaginative arts with words that delight? According to this passage, the content and technique of arts education should be teaching and delight respectively. We certainly aspire to this in our writing, don’t we?
When I look at a sunset, I’m never thinking, "I wonder what God is trying to teach me through this." At least not specifically. But if you asked, I’d tell you that through that sunset, I learned things. Things I probably couldn’t have learned another way. And I’m only more grateful as time passes that God never requires me to learn anything or sends down a message just in case I miss it, "This sunset brought to you by God, appropriate for inciting gratitude and spontaneous worship." Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling some of those good people fighting evolution in the schools would prefer it if he did.
But Myers makes a great point about refocusing on the true goal behind teaching and delighting as we "educate" readers of our books: to help develop the imagination so that it can grow to encompass more than it could before. (Alright, so I’m sort of paraphraing that, but it makes a point.)
Anyway, that’s all for now. Come on back after you’ve read Deathly Hallows and see if it breaks any of these kinds of thoughts loose.