Posts Tagged With: artistic beauty

Thinking About Hell at 2am

Last night I woke up with an extremely serious sense of the reality of hell. My mind was gripped in a dimension of it’s realness – not a realness like a movie or a book, but like as if standing in front of it and looking in. Knowing it. Experiencing the hopelessness of those who will be there forever. Absolutely overtaken with a sense of sorrow and desperation for them.

As odd as this may sound, specifically this painful grief washing over me turned to John Lennon, as I have recently watched a few video clips of the 1969 famous rooftop concert where Lennon appears jovial and carefree.

Awakening in the night with the realization that the man is forever trapped in hellfire has left me depressed and pensive today – my soul is laden with a grieving and anger at sin. It is a hateful thing to see anyone under the righteous wrath of God, especially because there is a Savior available to them.

It’s not that I see him and the millions of others as victims of an unjust punishment, but even in light of the perfect righteousness of God in damning sinners, my heart breaks for those who will be in unceasing anguish for eternity. No end! No peace!

Final!

Doesn’t your heart ache for this? Yes, the final truth about the population in hell is that they are tragically deceived criminals – deceived first of all by their own idols made by choice. Yet the fact of their culpability relieves little sorrow from my soul.

Artistic Glory as a Reminder

One reason I like to enjoy the beauties of secular music is because of moments like these; moments where I am stunned in joy by the art but also realizing the fragility of the human being in rebellion against the Almighty, holy God.

As I said in my writing on the Doors, once the final Day comes all will see that the beauties in the arts are copyright Jesus Christ, circa eternity. He is worthy! All beauties are on loan to the artist, and to Jesus belongs all our affection and worship. To Jesus let us give our love for His having determined not to let the entire human race go into the pits of hell. To Jesus let us cling in joy and fear, lest we collect our wage in the afterlife.

Until the final Day when clarity comes, my heart (may it always be), is torn and grieved for the futility and justice awaiting those who die in their sins without Christ.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

P.S. Of course I do not know for certain where Lennon is, or anyone for that matter… but to be clear, faith in Christ and repentance from sin is the only means of amnesty with God. Lennon seems to have died without that faith, according to what I can tell from his life and words.

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King Christ and The Lizard King – Interpreting the Artistic Power of The Doors pt2

After my first post about The Doors, I received some interesting feedback from an intelligent, well-educated Christian who said she would not have “wasted the ink” writing about Jim Morrison in light of his wickedness. This was no hipster kiddie shooting off her mouth – this lady was there in the late 60’s and followed The Doors in person. I respect her feelings and viewpoint, yet I wonder if as Christians we were to avoid mention or interpretation of people based on their lifestyles, how would we ever speak biblical truth into a lost and dying world? We must speak with clarity and conviction about sin, never making peace with the world, but we also must address the culture in a way that glorifies Christ as King and Sovereign… and how shall we do that if we do not understand and interpret what the culture is doing?

Jim Morrison and The Doors are a key icon of the cultural revolution in the west which has taken place over the past 50+ years. The allure of their artistic power captured the world from 1967-1971, but has also captured millions and millions of young people in each generation since then. Because I love Jesus more than anything, and because He commands me to make disciples of all the nations, I therefore live to make Him known – and in the world of the arts, Jesus is unfortunately quite unknown, not-praised, not-loved and cherished and obeyed and adored as He should be. Think of the irony and craziness! The KING of the universe, the great and greatest artist of them all, and the western world has largely dismissed Him as irrelevant, even a nuisance who gets in the way of true artistic freedom. Christians, hear me – we must be able to interpret the arts and speak biblical truth into this lost community of our neighbors.

Face to Face with Hijacked Beauty

How do we articulate the interpretation of ungodly beauty – or is any beauty ungodly?

We cannot tell people that there is no talent or lovliness in the works of The Doors, (or, for that matter, Jackson Pollack, Led Zepplin, or 1,000 other artists who didn’t love Christ): that would be absurd and would belie the God-given beauty detectors with which we were all born.

People who know and appreciate art and who know good music will laugh us off if we do not have a coherent, biblical answer to these questions. If we believe that the Bible is the best lens through which to interpret our cosmos, then we should fearlessly acknowledge the beauties in the arts.

Yet the question remains for me: if a work of art was not meant to glorify God (in the mind and heart of the artist), is it then forbidden to Christians? The Bible does not give us a clear prescriptive ideal in how to walk this out – we are instead bound by biblical principals of wisdom, love, holiness, etc.

Christ is King, and none other

In the final analysis of the matter, there are far too many people who go beyond recognizing the talents of the Lizard King and place a dead poet in the place of Christ Jesus. Jim Morrison contributed very little to the building up of western civilization, and did much to tear it down in his youthful ignorance. If he died without trusting Christ Jesus, which sadly is most likely the case, then his art will be swallowed up in judgment – and even old Jim will bow to Jesus on that final Day, confessing that all beauty is Copyright Jesus Christ, circa eternity.

For Christians, we acknowledge truly alluring beauties despite their fountain. We also glory in the ultimate reality that all good and all art is breathed into life by that First Mover and Cause, the Lord and King of the Cosmos, Jesus…

So if your conscience allows, go and listen to “Indian Summer”* by The Doors, and give thanks to God who graces even dark people with bright beauties.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

*My wife and I danced to this song at our wedding

Categories: The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Beauty and Darkness Kiss – Interpreting the Artistic Power of The Doors pt1

Let’s interpret the beauty in the art of The Doors. Much of the artistic expression in this world grieves me because it is dead even while it lives, so to speak… disoriented and misshapen. In my opinion, the epitome of what I would call “stillborn glory;” art which is brilliant yet dead – is the poetry and music of The Doors. What I mean is that when an artist expresses himself so as to exalt anything as more valuable in itself than the Creator, the artist becomes blind and spiritually ugly, yet ironically their art can and often does still point us to the glory of God.

In this case, I know there are many who would not think much of The Doors – whether musically or aesthetically, the art would seem odd, dissonant, and jarring. Even if you would consider it to be average or nothing special, there are many who see it differently. I would point you to the numerous Doors fanatics out there still today, 41 years after the end of Jim Morrison’s life – they are serious fanatics many times. I am regularly disturbed and grieved by the exaltation of Morrison, as I have come across people who compare him to Jesus, when in fact the two could not be more different. Obviously there is something here which is powerfully attractive. The depth of thought and care which went into Morrison’s writing and expression is in itself impressive, and remarkably unusual. From a young age he read esoteric literature and developed his own interpretation of the cosmos, one which became magnified to truly worldwide, generation-spanning proportions.

This is worth understanding.

If we might set aside momentarily the manifestations of spiritual darkness which clung to the lives of Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore, we will hear a stunningly passionate musical art which for me has been at times quite moving. If you have read my other posts at all, you will know that I am easily fascinated, easily impressed, and profoundly moved by beauty and wonder.

Watch this video – first part is a poem written by Jim Morrison hearkening back to the blues bands he would watch live while living in Alexandria, Virginia in his late teens. The second part is one of the band’s most famous songs – performed in Copenhagen in 1968 on a sound stage without an audience, (an important part of this performance, since without an audience Morrison was much more focused on the music itself, in my opinion.)

I picked this performance because you can plainly see the raw talent and effort of the artists. In other words, here is a dramatic display of one of the 20th century’s most influential acts… and I ask, why does this music endure and profoundly impact so many people? No simple answers now – think about this! It is not simply that people are sinners and The Doors were sinful so therefore people find a haven for their sinful desires. Equally, it is not true that these were good men with good intentions, and that we are drawn to be moral and generous by listening. There is something more which happens to us as we behold the power of art, something which for us Christians is crucial to understand and communicate to our culture. Let’s interpret the cosmic significance of beauty found amongst the ashes. Please do share any thoughts you have… and

Thanks for thinking,

-Justin

P.S. In a future conclusion to this post on The Doors, I will offer a clear biblical interpretation and answers to the questions I attempt to raise here. I believe that through the biblical worldview we can redeem and celebrate the God-honoring aspects of those works which in themselves did not intend to be God-honoring.

Yours [O God] is the day, Yours also is the night... Ps. 74:16a

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Darwin with Cataracts

Charles Darwin lacked modern scientific tools. Compared to the instruments we have today, Darwin was like an old woman with cataracts attempting to spot earthworms from a hot air balloon. You’d have a better chance of spotting golf balls on the moon using binoculars than Darwin had in interpreting the cosmos with his scientific instruments.

As a student of biological sciences, and holding a minor in it, I can give proper regard to the impact of the work of Darwin, and how he dedicated his energies to understanding the cosmos through biology. His work has echoed through the halls of almost every school in the modern world, and his research was exemplary for its time.

Like I said, his scientific instruments were crude and primitive, therefore limiting the accuracy and types of data he could gather. When Darwin looked through his “modern” microscope at a cell, he saw a simple circle or square with some fuzzy stuff in the middle. Today when we look at the cell, we see a complex – that’s an understatement – machine which operates with perfect internal grace and majesty. The levels of interdependence, precision, and artistic beauty within the organelles blow away anything ever created by man. If my memory serves me correctly, Darwin made remarks to the effect that if in the future of science we became able to study and conclude that there were parts within a cell which are complex and interdependent beyond what he was able to see, that then we would have to allow for the possible deconstruction of his theories.

Holy cow.

You see, if 2 different parts within a cell must have the other one to operate, then they would have both had to have been there to start with (in the first cell which existed). The problem for Darwin and his descendants is not 1 pair of interdependent organelles, but multiple groups in each type of cell, organism, animal, plant, etc. The “odds,” if we can even use such silly terms, of such an outcome from a random, unguided macro-evolution are virtually, and realistically 0.

Yet the Darwinian view persists. A house must have a foundation, and the house that Darwin built was founded on the theory that from simple forms of life much more complex, intricate life could arise by random accident. In itself that is unproven to this day, and further is illogical – (order from chaos?) Yet the house that Darwin built is inhabited by the brightest minds in academia, and I would wager it is held by the majority of educated people worldwide. What happened here? Now that we can see the brilliant design within just one cell, how could it be that so many people would still hold to an idea which posits completely random, unguided mutation in millions of species, each of which has become a whole, perfect organism able to reproduce within its own kind? Think of a simpler example: take an iPhone or a Toyota Prius and imagine that it could arise from accidental melding of parts over millions of years. Have we gotten absurd enough yet? But wait! There’s more… try to make the leap of unfounded faith that a living cell, almost infinitely more complex and intricate could arise from this same unproven process?

For an idea to be scientifically proven, it must be testable. Naturalistic evolution is anything but testable. To be fair, Darwin’s theory of the origin of species is interesting, but ultimately it is simply a guess based on an interpretation of evidence. It barely qualifies as a true scientific theory if it even does.

Ultimately, each of us will be required to place faith in something… because none of us was there “in the beginning!”

This is the juncture where the agnostics, atheists and antitheists part ways from the theists and creationists. We are forced to ask where it all started, and therefore, what or who was there before the start?

Try on this logic for size: If we put forward an eternal, creating, sentient being, then the cosmos can be as it is. If there is no eternal, creating, sentient being, then nothing can possibly exist because matter and energy cannot create themselves. Why is that so difficult to grasp? Yet if I were a professor at an average university, I could lose my job for publishing an article like this. Something beyond raw science and research is at stake here. When professional scientists’ jobs are threatened and lost (as they are) for asking legitimate questions like this, we can be sure some political motive is afoot. What is at stake?

Now I will make the (logical, informed) leap to the biblical worldview in order to answer the question.

What is at stake is the implications of an interpretation of the cosmos as an orderly, harmonious whole which is created, governed, and at the service of the Creator and Sovereign.

The so-called “Big-Bang” theory of a causeless cosmos is devoid of a logical premise, and accordingly the entire story from that point falls flat. There had to be an Originator, or there would be no origin. It is that simple. So, I’m back to the question. Why is this such a difficult, heated debate with such entrenched, militaristic ideology on all sides?

What is at stake is the implications of an interpretation of the cosmos as an orderly, harmonious whole which is created, governed, and at the service of the Creator and Sovereign.

Even if we say for sake of argument that the Bible is not supernatural, and we set it aside as irrelevant, we are still in need of a coherent explanation of our origin. Stephen Hawking, the genius scientist of international acclaim, recently wrote in his book The Grand Design that we actually can explain the cosmos as having arisen ex nihilo, out of nothing and without a creator. The universe created itself. If one of the most brilliant astrophysicists in history could come out with an illogical, sad, and ridiculous statement like that, there must be something driving him away from the axiomatic reality of an eternal *something*. To state with a serious face that there was a beginning point to everything as if everything within the cosmos is self-created is to blind yourself, say that up is down, to say that squares have 5 sides, to say that we exist and do not exist simultaneously. It is foolish. It is openly foolish. It is indicative of something going on at the heart of the issue.

There must be an intellectual fear of an interpretation of the cosmos as an orderly, harmonious whole which is created, governed, and at the service of the Creator and Sovereign.

Do you fear that conclusion?

Let’s be honest. Our scientific instrumentation has matured and grown in precision and has revealed a magical, fantastical micro and macro cosmos which consumes the mind with wonder. Yet still with all of our knowledge and calculation of the universe, the conclusions to which our most intellectual class is coming are even more anti-creator, anti-truth, and anti-Bible than ever before. This is a tragedy (another understatement). God has gifted men with such an awesome wisdom in science and investigation. We have these brains which can conceive of ideas which are so much bigger than any of us individually or as a whole. We are driven to search for meaning and cohesion in the cosmos. We are designed to find our Maker.

He has spoken, He means to be heard, and He wants to be known… check it out:

In testing the Bible for divine origin, it stands as the definitively different and unique book. Its explanations of origins and history are quite logical, perfectly consistent with the cosmos as we see it, and a perfectly beautiful tapestry of divine revelation. Why is it not good enough for people to see and believe?

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 – 25 we are confronted with the irony and tragedy of the wisdom of this world which only leads to intellectual and spiritual darkness. Stephen Hawking may have an intensely powerful brain, but his rejection of divine Sovereignty and revelation in the Scriptures has lead to his becoming a public fool. Never forget, my friends, that God chooses the weak things of this world to shame the wise. Once we have rejected the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, we set ourselves adrift into a dark morass of ignorance and eternal suicide. I weep for my family, friends, and neighbors who see but don’t see, who hear but are deaf, who are alive yet dead.

Darwin made just one example of how man finds any way possible to break free of the Sovereignty of the Creator. Romans 1:18 – 32 details the regression of man in rejecting the Creator and so being turned over to a darkened, foolish mind. Here in Romans we see that with or without the special revelation of God, people refuse to acknowledge and thank Him, choosing instead to follow their own desires. Even more sad is when someone concludes that the God of the Bible cannot be the truth and the true God, leaving them nowhere left to turn other than to the darkened, limited sense of reality outside of knowing the Creator. The interpretation of the cosmos minus the lens of Scripture leads men to invent anything but truth, ranging from the universe as being on the back of a turtle all the way up to the sophisticated, pseudo-scientific ideas of naturalistic Darwinism.

I suppose that even if God Himself were to appear among us, work miracles, speak as no one ever spoke, and was able to even predict the future perfectly, that even then we would not listen and would even kill Him… like we did.

I offer to all who read this, the revelation of reality as it is from the breath of the One who created in unfettered freedom. There are stacks of books which will enlighten the mind and heart concerning the harmony between the Bible and the visible cosmos. The only question is, will we see our need of God, accept Him on His terms according to His reality, or will we venture into the swamps of fallen logic to attempt an autonomous reconstructing of the cosmos?

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

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