The Music of Nature and Creation

“The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another… and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.” -Leonard Bernstein

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The Value of Art and Imagination

“The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination ‘gets you,’ even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. ‘Imagination communicates,’ as Arthur Danto says, ‘indefinable but inescapable truth.’ Those who read a book or listen to music expose themselves to that inescapable truth. There is a sort of schizophrenia that occurs if you are listening to Bach and you hear the glory of God and yet your mind says there is no God and there is no meaning. You are committed to believing nothing means anything and yet the music comes in and takes you over with your imagination. When you listen to great music, you can’t believe life is meaningless. Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk.” -Tim Keller

Common Grace: The Preserver of Beauty

“From this it becomes evident that common grace has performed a twofold service with respect to beauty. First, common grace has spared much paradise beauty and preserved it from loss, and continues to supply us along our life’s way with such a rich treasure of beautiful things in nature. Common grace has tempered the curse and in this

way left us with genuine poetry within nature. One and the same stem holds both the unfurled rosebud and the wounding thorn. Second, within the sinful human being common grace has preserved from complete loss the sense of this beauty in nature.” -Abraham Kuyper

The Beautiful, The Ordinary, and The Ugly in a Fallen World

“Nevertheless, beauty no longer adorns the whole earth. On the contrary, we discover alongside each other the beautiful, the ordinary, and the ugly. A lion is beautiful; a calf is ordinary; a rat is ugly. The same holds for the plant kingdom. The cedar enthralls us with beauty, the willow strikes us as ordinary, and the thistle turns us off… You find this same threefold categorization not only among plants and animals, but even among nonorganic nature. Some mountain ranges inspire worship. Then there are very ordinary humpbacked mountains that you scarcely notice as you walk past them. There are wild rock crevasses so barren and awful that they arouse an involuntary shudder; these are real specimens of the “formless and void” that once existed. Similarly you find next to the lushness of nature in one region the bare flatness of another region, and next to that terrain you find the barrenness of heath and desert. This is true of the atmosphere as well. Some days you enjoy the kind of sky and weather that make you smile and lift your spirit to the heights, followed by other days that are rather ordinary, when it does not rain and the sun and moon make their appearance. Then you face the days when the stormy winds splash the rain against you and the walkway underfoot becomes impassable. In those three phases the activity of common grace swings restlessly back and forth in terms of the beauty of nature.
Repeatedly God shows you and gives you a sense of what your lot on earth would be, and how ugly the world would be, if the curse had been carried out to its ultimate conclusion. And then God lets you behold an exhilarating natural phenomenon that makes you homesick for paradise. Then you sink again back into the ordinary where nothing excites you or repulses you, but instead where everything around you lacks any vitality and chills your enthusiasm.” -Abraham Kuyper
BTW NOTE: As an “ordinary means of grace” Presbyterian minister, I know I’m ‘in the tank’ on this, but I would not make the absolute contrast between “the beautiful” and “the ordinary” that Kuyper does here. But I think I can still see what he is getting at.