Our Culture and Christ

Hey, everyone. Just wanted to wish everyone a joyous Christmas. I’ve posted some thoughts for the season on my Klavan on the Culture blog:

All art — all storytelling, picture-making, music — is an attempt to record and communicate the experience of being human. There are no words for this experience. Only metaphor and imagery and music will do. All peoples leave these traces of themselves. It’s their way of saying not just “We were here,” but “We were here — and this is what it was like.”

In the west, especially in that part of the west formerly known as Christendom, the project of art has taken on a special significance. That significance accounts for western art’s unparalleled greatness, for the fact that European productions between the Renaissance and World War I represent the pinnacle of human cultural achievement thus far. No other painting, literature or music has ever been more beautiful or more deep — more generally successful in doing what it is art does.

The special significance of western art — its special urgency — derives from the fact that westerners have a unique belief that the experience of being human, while by definition subjective, is nonetheless a reflection of an objective truth:  moral truth.  We believe that a human life can embody the ideas of God.

We believe this because our minds, our outlook, our culture were all formed under the pervasive influence of Christianity — the pervasive influence of Jesus Christ.

The rest is here.

God bless us, every one.

  1. The Mugwump

    The Greeks pursued God through beauty.  The Hebrews gave us righteousness.  The Son incarnated as Living Truth.  The West reflects in our art and philosophy a profound realization:  God is truth, beauty and goodness.     

  2. curtmilr

    Very well said, and true, Andrew!

    God bless & Merry Christmas!

  3. flownover

    Led there by the unerring guidance of Mr Teachout, the family watched Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol . The scene from the Future, where the charwoman, the laundress and the undertaker’s man are selling the bedclothes, curtains, and whatnot was instructive about salvation.

    One of them says: 

    why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself.”

    Being natural in belief allows one to die accompanied.  One of the many metaphors in the great story of salvation, told at the time we celebrate the possibility. 

    Thanks to you Mr Klavan and you, Mr Dickens,  God Bless both of you.

  4. Pseudodionysius

    May God bless you and your family. Merry Christmas Andrew.

    Though not strictly a Christmas tale, I’m currently reading The Identity Man and listening to it as an audiobook, for which you’re an excellent narrator.

  5. Whiskey Sam

    Merry Christmas to you, sir!

  6. Copperfield

    Read it this morning.  Just another in a long list of reasons to love Andrew Klavan… he reads Dickens. 

    Thank you, Mr. Klavan.  One of the best things I’ve read this Christmas. 

  7. KC Mulville

    Wonderful, as usual.

    So much of art, of course, is compelled … we make music, tell stories, sculpt, paint, etc., because we have to. We’re compelled. Driven. Challenged.

    Jesus still represents the ultimate challenge: God and humanity, made one. 

  8. Goldgeller

    Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed reading it.

  9. Sister

    Merry Christmas! Thank you for the link.