I should not have procrastinated on these blog entries. Erg. Too many thoughts worth so much of my time, and yet I have no time to give. Such is the life of a pure J-type. But I digress. Let’s get to thinking.
Over the course of this class, it seems as though two positions have been established. One position finds beauty in order, while the other finds beauty in spontaneity. Beauty is not exclusive to either, but different forms of art seem to distinctly fall into one or the other position. Bach compared to Coltrane. Ballet compared to rugby. Rote ritual compared to random reaction. Beauty can be found in all these things. How is that?
Without going too far into my rambles, I’d like to look at each position as it relates to the character of God. First, God has shown Himself to be a God of order. Within the first chapter of the Bible, God brings definition to the void and the waters. Throughout the Bible, God establishes Himself as the supreme authority over all creation. In the Old Testament, God gives the Law to the Israelites and sets them apart as His holy people. Paul goes to great lengths to explain how the God of the Bible has a sovereign plan for the elect. God is the One who establishes order. So then, I believe that beauty can be planned, ordered, and calculated.
On the flip side, God has also revealed His glorious creativity. Yes, while people love and need order in their lives, there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes, people appreciate the unplanned, unexpected, and seemingly random. I don’t think God opposes this in man. In fact, I believe that one of God’s greatest blessings to mankind is the capacity to create, invent, and imagine new things. He even encourages such behavior when the psalmist tells the whole earth to “Sing to the Lord a new song” in Psalm 96.
Things get a little messy for me at this point. Yes, God is creative; hence, creation. Humans are also creative, but not in the same way. There is a significant difference, and I think its source lies in God’s omniscience. Let me try to explain. When God creates something, He does so with perfect knowledge and understanding of the created thing, Himself, and His sovereign plan for all mankind. God does not create anything meaningless. I think. I don’t see how he could make something meaningless. The purpose of all creation ultimately is to glorify God. Why would He make something that doesn’t bring him glory in some way? And even if He did, I’d suppose that if God made something meaningless, it’d have to be incredibly carefully created specifically to be meaningless, which sort of gives it meaning in itself. Scratch that; that just sounds absurd. Anything God creates, then, fits into His sovereign plan for creation that He has revealed in part to man through Jesus Christ and the Bible. Simply put, all God’s creative power is also ordered.
Can I take a moment to share why I am so encouraged by what I have just written? Nothing God creates is meaningless. I am so thankful that includes me. The fact that I exist at all is proof that I have an ordained place in God’s sovereign plan. I might not be able to tell you the first thing about how I fit into His plan, but I know for certain that I am not an accident. That goes for all people. I wish everyone knew that they were made for a purpose and were fully known. The world would be far more at ease, I think.
Man’s creative power is limited. Humans have built fairly impressive things: spaceships, the internet, the wheel, jazz, socks. However, humans only create by repurposing already created things: man cannot create anything ex nihilo. Socks are from wool or cotton or polyester (which is from who knows what). Jazz is simply vibrating air. Et cetera. People are also limited in their knowledge. Whenever God acts, it is in line with His sovereign plan. Human beings don’t have sovereign plans with which they can add their creation to. This means that man can create things that are meaningless. But seeing as though things without meaning are contrary to the nature of God, they cannot be beautiful.
I think I’m going too far off topic diving into what has meaning and what doesn’t. Let me return to discussing how spontaneity can be beautiful. Along with creativity, the ability to learn and discover is also one of the greatest blessings God has given man. Because God is all knowing, the more man learns, the better he can reflect God. In a sense, creating something new or witnessing something spontaneous or improvised unfold is a way of learning. God, of course, already knows whatever man is doing, has done, or will do. He also knows anything that could have been or could be, so God doesn’t learn from human creation. In that light, any form of human creation is simply man manifesting something that God already knows.
In short, order is beautiful because God is ordered; He is holy, sovereign, and omniscient. Spontaneity or improvisation is beautiful because it draws us into God’s creativity and wisdom.