Thursday, August 21, 2003


The notion that the arts are optional is absurd in the same way that the suggestion that making choices could be optional for human beings. We are constituted as a kind of being that chooses and a kind of being that decorates. Both things set us apart and define us.

The Pope notes in the Letter to Artists that the reason God stopped creating, and, well, permanently rested, was because He had created a kind of being finally that could continue creating in His stead.

“Finally, He created the human being: the noblest fruit of His design, to whom he subjected the visible world as a vast field in which human inventiveness might assert itself.” (Letter to Artists 1999, JPII)

We human beings are supposed to keep recombining the elements in creation: out of chaos...into order...beyond order, into harmony. Creation is the act in which we each find our destiny. I like that. Good Pope.

Then, this...

“All men and women are entrusted first with the task of crafting their own lives; in a certain sense they are to make of their life, a work of art, a masterpiece.” (Letter to Artists 1999, JPII)

I always think of St. Paul’s “new man” in this sense. The "New man" that we put on in the life of grace can be understood as the work of art that we undertake in collaboration with Christ. It's our "baby" with Jesus. Us. The us of destiny, that is; the realization of that image God had of us that was so beautiful that He just had to make it.

If you had to describe your life up till now, would it be a masterpiece?

Would it be a reproduction or an original?

Would it be the kind of thing you would feel safe to expose children to? Is it mostly tragedy or comedy? Is it an ascent (a story of growth?) or a descent (a story of squandering?) or is it without any climax at all?

Emily Dickinson said, "Nature is a haunted house. Art is a house that tries to be haunted." What is it that "haunts" your life as you have made it?

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