August 29, 2019

The Good Works of God and Mankind

I sometimes like to imagine God filling in the colorless canvas of a new Earth with the products of His imagination. It must have been a labor of Love. Acts of pure creation always are. 

Picture a barren hillside, at once teeming with a billion blades of the greenest grass. Endless varieties of insects and animals, each producing their own distinctive song, springing from the mind and heart of the First Artist.

God's palette contained all the senses known to mankind, and many more besides. A human could draw a flower, but only God could delineate its aroma, the taste of its nectar, its graceful motion in the morning breeze. 
Georgia O’Keeffe, Red Canna, 1924 (Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)
I find that there is nothing inherent in the belief of God that conflicts in any way with science or any other form of rational thinking. Evolution might just be another of God's masterpieces, a temporal tableau. Why must one preclude the other? 

Organized religion is totally corrupted, of course, just as most institutions run by humans tend to be. Religious texts, though they contain much wisdom, are all dubious for the same reason. Every atrocity ever committed in the name of God was actually committed at the direction of a person or persons who claimed they had the authority to speak for God. 

I find that all I need to really know about God can be found in His artwork. The colors of a sunset, for example. It is just not possible that anyone who could fill a canvas with such a splendid and constantly changing aerial display could signify anything different than peace, joy and benevolence. In those qualities are all the lessons that mankind could ever need to know about the meaning of life.

God gave humanity a special power, one that He did not bestow upon the bumblebees or rabbits or any other living creatures. This power was the ability to transcend instinct and experience a full range of emotions with freedom of thought and expression. How else could we fully appreciate the wonders all around us? We have been taught to have faith in God, but it is self-evident that He had faith in us first.

Auguste Rodin's The Thinker was originally named The Poet
The legacy of mankind, as of this writing, seems to betray God's faith in our potential. Authoritarian leaders, seen and unseen, throughout the course of history, manipulate the destinies of all, a deadly mixture of ignorance and hubris condemning the people of the world to a terrible and wholly unnatural fate. 

But there is hope. And that hope lies, as it always has, in the imaginations of artists. For millennia, these brave individuals have stood outside of an oppressive system, often paying a heavy toll, to bring inspiration and enlightenment to the oppressed people of the world. They have starved, lived in exile and even walked the fine line between sanity and madness to present the gifts of their imaginations to the world.

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889.

That's why the people I admire the most are artists. And that's how I perceive the difference between good art and bad art. Good art has some redeeming value. It is not done merely to placate one's ego or make money. Good art illuminates the human condition and heals the wounded spirit. Good art encourages us to dream and turn dreams into reality. 

One doesn't have to be a Picasso or Shakespeare to create works of lasting value. Any time a person sets out to create something, they are making a conscious decision to not destroy. Any act of creation is an act of redemption for the soul of mankind. That quilt your grandmother made for you? Yeah, she knew what she was doing.

This blog is about vintage popular (and sometimes, unpopular) art and culture. I don't dispute that there is great modern culture. I do think commerce has gotten too much in front of art in this cynical age. I believe we are overdue for a Renaissance, and I am trying to do my little bit to facilitate its arrival. 

Stay attuned...

No comments: