The peril of the artist is his constant temptation to an idolatrous worship of the beautiful creature rather than the beatific Creator. This results in service of the holiness of beauty rather than the beauty of holiness. Nevertheless, art and religion are inextricably bound, and the Christian faith finds its pure expression in artistic forms just as truly as it does in intellectual works of theology or practical works of mercy.

Spirit With Spirit

Of all the art forms, painting is the most peculiarly Christian. Although the ancients and the orientals engaged in painting, it is a historical fact that Christian culture has excelled in this medium. The reason for this excellence lies in the spirituality of Christian reconciliation. While pagan art, where it has made an attempt at reconciliation at all, has sought a resolution of matter and spirit, Christianity with a surer and more reverent realism has found the need to reconcile Spirit with spirit. In Semitic and Hindu art there is no real attempt at reconciliation. The resolution of life is expressed in terms of release (Moksha for the Hindu and an apocalyptic longing for the courts of the Lord for the Semite). Thus there is no reconciliation with either matter or the course of this world—and consequently there is a glaring aesthetic indigence. In ancient Greek and Chinese art there is a serious attempt to reconcile matter and spirit in the form of moderation (sophrosune and tao), a balance between the Dionysiac and the Apollonian, between Yang and Yin. But Christian art does not reconcile matter with spirit by means of a humanized rationalization; rather reconciliation is found only through death and resurrection, death to both matter and spirit and resurrection in newness ...

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