Because of expected ice storm on Sunday January 9, only 8:30 worship will take place onsite.

October 19, 2023

A Pastoral Word. . .Art Amid Atrocity

Pastor Kevin Freeman

October 19, 2023
Like me, you have probably given considerable thought to the terrible events that occurred in Israel on October 7. A few days ago, I came across an online post by a man named Jash Dholani (@oldbooksguy). Mr. Dholani brought up C.S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist of the twentieth century. Lewis presented a lecture at Oxford University in 1939 – recall the turmoil of that time as Europe found itself on the brink of a second world war – during which he asked, “Does beauty matter when bombs start falling?”

Jash Dholani’s subsequent posts (his words in bold with minor edits below) summarized some of the main lecture points while adding direct quotes from Lewis’s lecture:

  1. The permanent human situation is endless strife, chaos, and pain: “Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.”
  2. If we waited for peace to create art, the first cave painting would still not be made: “If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun.”
  3. C.S. Lewis on why humans are a truly unique species: Men propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, and come their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache; it is our nature.”
  4. Past as immunity from new-age falsehoods: “A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore…immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press of his own age.”

I am thankful for the wisdom God gave C.S. Lewis, yet our source of wisdom from before 1939. A few thousand years earlier, David was on the run from King Saul. During this time, David did not cease writing his divinely-inspired psalms of poetry but continued producing this art we cherish. Psalm 27 expresses worship, a thirst for knowledge, and confidence, even as David appeals for deliverance from his enemies:

“The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear?” (v. 1a)

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may…gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (v. 4)

“Teach me your way, LORD.” (v. 11a)

Crises hit us all. Is your life consumed by damage control, or have you found time amid the tumult to appreciate and pursue the goodness of life? There can be art amid atrocity, worship amid warfare.

Appreciating beauty often keeps our sanity as we are assaulted by the ugliness around us. Let us pray for Israel’s security and for the many who are grieving their loss. Let us also pray for God’s protection of the innocent in the coming days of necessary response. Most of all, let us pray for people to finally see and cling to the beauty of Christ. They will see His beauty through God’s people, more easily so during troubling times.

Your partner in ministry,
Kevin Freeman
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