Friday, November 18, 2011

Essay 7a- faith and belief

Essay 7a:
 Faith and Belief- Is Art in any way, an intrinsic part of,or a primary factor in, religion or religious expression and if so, how did it specifically play a part in the development of Christianity?

Answer Part One:
                Summary: I quite liked this essay question because I have a pretty unique view on religion.I respect and understand it's reasons and ways, but having earth-based beliefs brings me to conclusions that may be controversial. A different perspective! excitement!With respect and taste, I once wrote a paper declaring my independence from organized religion. The art, however, is key to religion. This topic interests me,and I hope to bring  my ideas ful circle with the lessons from class.
               Reason: Art in any society but ESPECIALLY the one to which we're referring, has timeless importance and impact, and that, I believe, was the idea we hunted for regarding this question.
               Purpose: I believe the purpose in the asking of this question is to deepen our knowlege of both art and religion. Religion; belief, is a powerful force and it is important to understand how the art correlates,and even carries, this force.
                Direction: I always face the spiritual direction in my essays , but i'm led to a more reasonable outlook this time around. creation has a reason, and reason is function, and function is followed by form,which in this case has a deep seeded function. 
                 Impressions: Referring to recent class discussion, I repeatedly was reminded of religious icons being compared to superheroes and it was a bit amusing to me.

Answer Part 2:

"Without art,The crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable."-George Bernard Shaw

                           This quote in itself can answer this essay question, but I will elaborate. Symbolism and images have enlightened the souls and carried on the devotion of humankind from the nomadic times to the present day. We have found ourselves, and we are a part of something epically larger and transcended. To the cavemen, it was the earth. Hence, depictions of animals and so forth. As our mental capacity evolved, we became aware of space;the heavens,and spirits. We adopted beliefs that made the other side of death less frightening. These beliefs came from and are carried on in our stories,our heritage. How we view them in our own perspective gives us the power, gives us the control we have such a need for, to simply, believe. To put our faith in something with vast depth and meaning.(Art History,P. 224)

             In Art History(4th ed. vol.1), it says that "throughout the history of christian art...." but even in Egyptian, Greek and Roman art(etc..), you can see two distinct ways that art portrayed religion.  "The narrative urge to tell a good story whose moral or theological implications often have instructional or theological value,and the desire to create iconic image that symbolize the core concepts and values of the developing religious tradition. In both cases,the works of art take on meaning only in relation to the viewers' stored knowledge of Christian stories and beliefs."(Art history, P. 224)
(Herbert James Draper,1898

                   Art is indeed imperative to both religion and religious expression. The scenes and figures portrayed influence the masses as a kind of propaganda. Similar to the monks who would copy books, depicting scenes of christ would keep the knowledge,the story, alive.  In this case, Christianity, it was to spread the messages of God in hopes you would be taken under the church's wing. God was someone to turn to whether you were sick, cold,hungry,or a sinner needing to repent. Referring back to class notes,  christ was given an almost superhero-type persona. and thus, knowing you were being watched over and protected by this "savior",made you feel safety amidst the confusion and chaos that was life.
                      because of his extraordinary act of selflessness(self-sacrifice,etc.) he embodies these traits. "A boldly striding Christ- brilliantly outfitted in a pure white that makes him shine to prominence within the fresco program-lunges to rescue Adam and Eve from their tombs, pulling them upward with such force that they seem to float airborne under the spell of his power"(Art history,Fourth edition,Volume 1.Page 256)This in reference to the Anastasis in the church of the monestary of Christ in Chora.

(photo credit:

Art is expression,simply put. it expresses our love,devotion, suffering,and imagination.  Surely it is imperative to life, to have art.

1 comment:

  1. Only one disappointment with this posting - I want more! You said that, "These beliefs came from and are carried on in our stories,our heritage..." early on in this post. However, as much as I wanted to "hear" more, you took the oft cliched phrase that art is expression or self-expression and gave it form by stating, "...simply put. it expresses our love,devotion, suffering,and imagination. Surely it is imperative to life, to have art." I believe that to reflect on Bernard Shaw's quote, not only would life be unbearable, Christianity especially may not have emerged as it did. And, perhaps too, it is why we are losing ground in both art and religion since they somehow parted company...