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Aesthetics and Human Connection

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  • Aesthetics and Human Connection

    I just watched the movie “Her” for the fifth time and cried just as much as I did in my previous viewings. To me, it’s a very successful aesthetic expression to be able to effect that kind of response in me (I think most movies are shallow and egregiously manipulative due to corporate influence).

    It made me think about the topic of the Book of Job, which we’ve been discussing a lot here. Because of the gulf of time and culture, some skeptics regard the Book of Job anachronistically and have a difficult time relating to its message on natural evil-caused suffering. Conversely, some Jews and Christians feel intimately connected to the Book of Job, relate to it immediately, and expect "skeptics" to understand the meaning outright—despite the huge temporal/cultural void that exists. It’s a Bronze Age allegory expressing the common fears and hopes of the ANE culture. What’s so hard to understand about that? seems to be their stance (though I'm generalizing).

    Now more than ever, I think it’s important for Jews and Christians to rely less on the Bible to convey meaning and look to good expressions of the same concepts in modern art to convey truth and open "closed" minds. Christianity Today journalist and columnist Philip Yancey used to publish (I’m not sure if he still does) a publication called Books and Culture, which reviewed books that reflected common issues honestly, without that bad fundie/evangelical aftertaste. I think we need an amplification of the importance of ambiguity in the human experience and less emphasis on ancient books that, frankly, this present culture isn’t at all equipped to process. The evidence I’d present for that is the large contingent of literalist Christians and unsophisticated skeptics who constantly troll each other with meaningless noise, essentially resembling simians flinging feces at each other.

  • #2
    It's interesting that you posted this because it dovetails almost exactly with a chapter I had to read for seminary this week and got me thinking.

    I certainly don't think Christians should limit themselves to scripture; even within the Bible, you see that people like Paul felt free to refer to popular philosophy and poetry. The book urged pastors to be conversant with poetry; I'll be the first to admit poetry just isn't my thing. I connect through other things, but all the more power to those who do connect through it. But there are other things through which to make connections; current events, movies (which are also not my thing. I don't have the attention span to sit through movies), music, literature, etc. The book referred to these things as "treasures".

    But it also referred to something else as a treasure; the scriptures (yes, the Old Testament even). It focused on one biblical book in particular; the Psalms. I really do believe the Psalms run almost the complete gamut of human emotions. An example was provided of one pastor who turned to one Psalm after 9/11 that asked how long God would remain absent or something like that. It was an honest reaction. There are things to say to our situations today, but I agree we shouldn't artificially try to shoehorn passages in that don't work in a given concept. What we read in the Psalms represent universal human feelings and not simply "the common fears and hopes of the ANE culture". People from other cultures can, and do, speak to us today, despite our differences.
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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    • #3
      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
      It's interesting that you posted this because it dovetails almost exactly with a chapter I had to read for seminary this week and got me thinking.

      I certainly don't think Christians should limit themselves to scripture; even within the Bible, you see that people like Paul felt free to refer to popular philosophy and poetry. The book urged pastors to be conversant with poetry; I'll be the first to admit poetry just isn't my thing. I connect through other things, but all the more power to those who do connect through it. But there are other things through which to make connections; current events, movies (which are also not my thing. I don't have the attention span to sit through movies), music, literature, etc. The book referred to these things as "treasures".

      But it also referred to something else as a treasure; the scriptures (yes, the Old Testament even). It focused on one biblical book in particular; the Psalms. I really do believe the Psalms run almost the complete gamut of human emotions. An example was provided of one pastor who turned to one Psalm after 9/11 that asked how long God would remain absent or something like that. It was an honest reaction. There are things to say to our situations today, but I agree we shouldn't artificially try to shoehorn passages in that don't work in a given concept. What we read in the Psalms represent universal human feelings and not simply "the common fears and hopes of the ANE culture". People from other cultures can, and do, speak to us today, despite our differences.
      I like this response a lot, and I agree that some ancient literature can express the emotions that modern human beings experience.

      That being said, take romantic love and erotic emotion. Within the Bible, I can't find any expression of it that I can relate to. Humor, as well. The reason I mention "Her" is probably because my wife (a Christian, formerly theologically conservative) relate on a deep level with that movie, moreso than we relate on any biblical expression. Song of Songs is just silly, context considered.

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      • #4
        KG, like I said, I also don't have the tolerance for movies just like you. They are mostly vile and the opposite of artistic. I recommend you and your wife watch Her (with an open mind) because it addresses profound topics like existentialism, eros, and jealousy with a graceful and hilarious touch that the Song of Songs and Book of Job don't come close to capturing.

        ETA: Book of Job (because "Her" addresses tortuous emotional pain of romantic love/breakup and BOJ doesn't).
        Last edited by whag; 12-06-2014, 04:19 PM.

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        • #5
          I have seen “ANE” used a few times. What does it mean? Something like Ante Christum Natum perhaps?
          “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
          “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
          “not all there” - you know who you are

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          • #6
            Originally posted by firstfloor View Post
            I have seen “ANE” used a few times. What does it mean? Something like Ante Christum Natum perhaps?
            Ancient Near East.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
              Ancient Near East.
              Thanks.
              “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
              “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
              “not all there” - you know who you are

              Comment


              • #8
                Christians reading their Bible.
                That's an interesting concept.
                To say that crony capitalism is not true/free market capitalism, is like saying a grand slam is not true baseball, or like saying scoring a touchdown is not true American football ...Stefan Mykhaylo D

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by whag View Post
                  KG, like I said, I also don't have the tolerance for movies just like you. They are mostly vile and the opposite of artistic. I recommend you and your wife watch Her (with an open mind) because it addresses profound topics like existentialism, eros, and jealousy with a graceful and hilarious touch that the Song of Songs and Book of Job don't come close to capturing.

                  ETA: Book of Job (because "Her" addresses tortuous emotional pain of romantic love/breakup and BOJ doesn't).
                  I'll make a note of it, thanks. Hopefully as my semester winds down over the next week or two.
                  "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I just watched “Her”. Very good film although Joaquin Phoenix tends to mumble a bit. Best moment for me – “and the spaces between the words are almost infinite.”
                    “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
                    “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
                    “not all there” - you know who you are

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by firstfloor View Post
                      I just watched “Her”. Very good film although Joaquin Phoenix tends to mumble a bit. Best moment for me – “and the spaces between the words are almost infinite.”
                      That was better than the OS thinkgroup resurrecting Alan Watts?? =P

                      Comment

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