Beyond the pervasive disinterest in the visual arts among the Protestant community, the core problem lies in the fact that the art world rejects on several grounds work that is in any way explicitly Christian in content and also shrugs off as naive anything that has the semblance of hope or optimism in outlook.
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In this same tradition, beauty is inextricably bound up with the principles of order and harmony believed to underlie the cosmos. Artists in the Classical tradition, inspired by Platonic idealism, strove to create images that represented not the world of particulars-with all its defects-but an ideal image conceived in the mind, which was taken as representing some absolute, pure, ideal form of which all particular, material forms are but a mere shadow.
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As far as stimulus from the visual arts specifically, there is today in most of us a visual appetite that is hungry, that is acutely undernourished. One might go so far as to say that Protestants in particular suffer from a form of visual anorexia. It is not that there is a lack of visual stimuli, but rather a lack of wholesomeness of form and content amidst the all-pervasive sensory overload.
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Christ, as the ultimate Imago Dei is alluded to in scripture as being without external beauty in the Classical sense, and should better be thought of as one who passed through all the slime and mire of a fallen and sinful creation in order to redeem it. His own body is to be remembered for the marks it bears-even in resurrection-of the scars of his sacrificial death. For the Christian, a theory of beauty might better begin at this point.
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Narcissism and Christianity have little in common, yet the Romantic paradigm of artistic creativity, particularly in light of subsequent Freudian ideas, has tended to foster its share of narcissism. It was the tragic fate of Narcissus that he was so preoccupied with self that he could not appreciate God, nature, or the other.
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In as much as Christ's mission was to bring all things into submission to God, and to restore not only humanity, but also the whole creation to its proper purposes, to make straight what is crooked, and to redeem both humanity and the creation from the curse of sin, then herein can be found the possibility for a full and wholesome realization of human artistic activity.
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