instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Teachers and artists

I was struck by this, from yesterday's Evening Prayer's intercessions:
Inspire all teachers and artists to prepare mankind for your kingdom.
It seems a strange pairing, teachers and artists. In fact, it seems strange to mention artists at all in the course of the liturgy for a Tuesday in Lent.

But if all things are to be ordered in and for Christ, then art too must be ordered in and for Christ. This prayer mentions one order for art to carry out: preparing mankind for the Lord's kingdom.

In itself, art is making a thing well. The purpose for making a thing may be good or bad; often enough there's no real purpose at all. But all that is Christian has a good purpose, and Christian art can serve the purpose of preparing for the Kingdom, of plowing the soil where the seeds of the Gospel are to be planted.

That's a high purpose, one perhaps not considered as often as the purpose of instructing or delighting those who already have the Word growing within them. If our art is not directed toward preparing as well as nurturing, our world will be the poorer for it.