Would someone please answer the following question for me: Why do Americans – actually, I think Westerners generally, but I will stick with Americans – believe art is something that must be approached so … well … seriously? With most art, most Americans seem to believe that, when looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture or seeing a play or listening to a piece of music, they are obligated, on pain of being branded as culture-phobic philistines, to wear a facial expression that announces to the world Pity me! I am dying of terminal hemorrhoids!
Well, before anyone makes any cracks about that remark, I will back up a step or two and say that, yes, to be sure, some works of art are explicitly intended to evoke play, laughter, and light-hearted dalliance. A good example is
Like any other ideology-based group or community, Christian communities – churches and even entire denominations – have their own hortatory idioms, their own shibboleths, often drawn from the biblical text itself. One of the biggies for me, growing up as a fundamentalist Baptist, was “Saved by grace through faith,” right out of Ephesians 2:8-9. As a Catholic, I remember being admonished to “Follow your [i.e., my] vocation [or sometimes ‘calling’]”. As a non-fundamentalist but still conservative evangelical Christian, I well remember assurances that “God has a wonderful plan for your [my] life” (usually those exact words). Now, just so there is no misunderstanding, most of the time, these exhortations are just harmless rhetoric. (Usually … there are exceptions, e.g., the “Follow
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, and will gather them together for the battle; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up over the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. -- Revelation chapter 20:7-9a
It is unfortunate that the most prescient book ever written about the present mass migration of immigrants from the Third World to the First, especially to the US from Mexico and Central America and to Europe from the Levant, is out of print and therefore unavailable: Jean Raspail’s eerily prophetic The Camp of the Saints (hereafter Camp). (The Amazon link says simply t