Beautiful & Believable

An excerpt from Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of God:

“Beauty is the word which shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach since only it dances as an uncontained splendor around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another. Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. No longer loved or fostered by religion, beauty is lifted from its face as a mask, and its absence exposes features on that face which threaten to become incomprehensible to man. We no longer dare to believe in beauty, and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name, as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past, whether he admits it or not, can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”

The church has been the center of some of the greatest artistic expression for well over three thousand years. Because of this, I think it’s appropriate for us to talk briefly about why City Pres is endeavoring to allow art to serve their body and how we hope to see this evolve.

One of the things at stake within the Church today is its communal character. Our modern culture elevates the individual, private life above many areas of life. It’s easy to see how “me” centered we have become, but Christianity is about us. It’s about a people who, although diverse, are integrally connected by bonds that are deep and strong.

As I begin working as an artist with City Pres, one of my prayers is that God would allow our efforts of making City Pres beautiful through art to “resist individualism and strengthen the communal aspect of worship, to somehow help us realize a corporate identity.”

It’s my hope as I begin working alongside City Pres that the images created would be born out of the character and identity of the entire congregation.

Doug Serven