Institute for faith, culture, and creativity

What is Meaningful Art?

The philosopher and theologian, Francis Schaeffer, once said,

Unlike modern man, the men of the day did not live in a splintered world. Art was an intimate part of life. What is represented had more than an aesthetic value divorced from considerations of truth and religious significance.

Schaeffer reminds us that art reflects a particular worldview. In the same manner the art of the medieval man reflected his holistic worldview, the art of the modern man reflects his splintered, disconnected, compartmentalized view of the world. If each individual is his or her own source of truth, then anything and everything becomes art. Think Andy Warhol.

It would follow, it seems, that if everything is art, then, really, nothing is art. If the stuccoed track home is art the same way the grand architecture of an English manor is art, then beauty becomes subjective and arbitrary. And if beauty is subjective and arbitrary, then the word beauty has lost its meaning.

Speaking in terms of literary purpose, Horace asserted art is meant to enlighten and delight.

In a world where nothing is really art, because everything is art, and by definition beauty has no meaning, what is delightful and enlightening about art?

In a world where truth and religious significance is splintered, disconnected, and compartmentalized because all worldviews are equally meaningful, can art be considered meaningful?

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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. While pursuing a PhD in Humane Letters, he shares valuable tips on writing and teaching, rich insights into theology and literature, and meaningful perspective on living a life of significance. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

One Reply

  1. So true. Our world has lost touch with real beauty. It’s a sad consequence of a world where anything goes and the lines between good and evil are so horribly muddled.