This post is about the theology of the beauty of the ordinary. God is himself an artist. That is, in essence, the reason for having Art Wednesday be a part of this blog at all – to get people to buy into the idea that God is an artist and then to view all the art they encounter in the world through that lens.
The beauty of God’s art “flames out” in all of creation. Religion has at times seemed to portray God in a light that implies that he has dull aesthetic sense, as though God’s sense of beauty were bland and utilitarian. But this is not a Christian thought. The Bible portrays a God who delights in beauty simply because it is beautiful, and, in fact, all beauty in the world is borrowing from God. He is the reason there is any beauty in the world at all. He is the beauty of the world. He is the reason that, no matter how we abuse and “trod on” the world, it’s beauty will never be extinguished. Creation is God’s work of art.
The following is a poem that is the best articulation of the theology of the beauty of the ordinary I have come across. This poem always runs through my head when I am outside and see the beauty of the things God has made. Below it are images from photographers of nature (combining God’s art with our art). The poem and the photos seem to go together and each informs the other.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.