Cultural Health and the Arts
One of the reasons I do the work I do is because I believe that American society is in a state of cultural deterioration, and that the Church is often making things worse rather than better. Specifically, serious art, literature, and music no longer have the position of importance in the lives of educated Americans they once had, and I believe that our lives (and the shared life we call our "culture") are worse off for that. Celebrities (people famous for being famous rather than for creative achievement) have replaced artists in the minds and hearts of people who should know better. That was one of the subjects addressed in the commencement address given at Stanford University this year by Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Gioia's speech is on-line, so I won't try to summarize it here. I will only underscore Gioia's emphasis on art education as an essential part of the remedy for our condition, and ask you to join me in a thought experiment. 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?
Dana Gioia has been a guest a few times on the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal. If you haven't heard him, he may be heard on one of our free bonus tracks talking about Longfellow.
Posted by Ken Myers on 7/23/07