Does our Christian Faith provide for us an in-built (even an in-dwelt) Christian aesthetic for Art? What formulation would that aesthetic take, especially in light of the exhortation of Philippians 4:8, which says:
"8Finally, brothers,whatever is true, whatever is honorable,whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything isexcellent or praiseworthy -- think on these things. ."
Or, perhaps more saliently considered, Philippians 2:13, which says,
" 13For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.."
Is good (Christian) art that which most closely approximates the highest notions of say, truth or purity or beauty or nobility (for instance)? Does the worth of Christian art rest contingently on the maturity of the believing artist more than upon the maturity of craft? How do we define Beauty as Christians?
One very historic and relevant question: if God's beauty is expressed in / through His Creation, and of Man it was said that (s)he was very good, then what of the nude form -- is it beautiful? Was God covering up something shameful when He gave Adam and Eve skins of animals to wear, or maybe, was God covering the beautiful up from shaming glances, protecting the beautiful, making it sacrosanct?
If nothing else does God's covering of the beautiful suggest that it is the heart relationship towards the Beautiful -- the audience's relationship to the art (and not the art itself) -- which is made unworthy of viewing that nude form which is too worthy to be viewed by shame-filled eyes? Put slightly more direct, God's covering suggests it is not the nude which is unworthy, but rather the nude is worthy of protection from the shame-seeing onlooker.
If we truly accept it is the Spirit of God dwelling within us to will and to act according to His good purposes, doesn't that heart frame the conversation, then, not by asking what is appropriate but by asking have treated or portrayed the beautiful appropriately? Have we loved and done Beauty justice and kindness and rightness and done so praiseworthily?
Do we in our hearts act as Shem and Japheth, and carry a cloak across our shoulders backwards and cover our father's nakedness? Is it possible to paint a nude but, paint it so that true Beauty is covered in like manner?
This certainly makes the question of Aesthetics one of Ethics, and of the ethical responses of the viewer (more than a question of the nature of the Art), and arguably (the ethics) of the artist.
***(Personally, I think in certain (maybe rare) nudes those nudes can actually function as a cover of / for Beauty as expressed in the human form, in such a manner as Shakespeare wrote of the beauty of His lover by ironically discussing her stinky breath.)
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