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Lesson Plans

Re: Faith and Meaning in Art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
R. Moore (ronmoore)
Thu, 11 Feb 1999 11:15:47 -0800 (PST)

I've noticed that several people on this list are thinking about the
relation of faith to the interpretation of art works. This is a problem
as broad as it is deep. I've often wondered just how much I can really
fathom in my appreciation of, say, a beautiful mask of an African river
god if I don't understand the religion that inspired it. I think it is
plainly wrong that I can't get ANYTHING out of it, but just as wrong to
think that I can get the same meaning from it that a person who believes
in the background religion does. So, in looking at religious artworks
from all cultures, it seems there is some quotient of meaning that will be
open to all viewers just because, as human beings, we share with everyone
else a sympathetic understanding of common human predicaments,
aspirations, yearning for meaning, facing death, and so on. And it ought
to be possible if I am a person who has SOME faith to understand the
having of a different faith by someone else. I would suppose that all the
students in a class, no matter what religions they may subscribe to, can
profit from a thoughtful examination of Medieval Christian altarpieces,
Islamic minatures, Buddhist sculptures, and so on, and that reflecting on
what there is in these works for us, and what we are cut off from can
stimulate worthwhile class discussion. If nothing else, the discussion
should evoke the idea that great art penetrates many of life's
superficialities to touch some of the ideas that we cherish most dearly,
each in our own way.