Friday, June 29, 2007

Heart v. Mind

There often exists a false dichotomy between the emotional and intellectual appeal of the arts. Because we are heirs of the Enlightenment, we tend to gravitate towards the emotional as apparent in the movies we watch, the books we read, and our Sunday morning worship. Our disdain for the intellectual further reflects our dependence on our own subjective experience as the rule for life. However, the intellectual approach tends to be coldly analytical and distant from actual life. As Christians, we should understand the concept of the best art engaging both the intellect and the emotions for God has created us with heart, soul, and mind.

The composers, artists, authors, and filmmakers with the greatest appeal and the most excellent ability are those who connect with both the heart and the mind. Why is Mozart a better composer than Haydn, Rembrandt more engaging than Thomas Kincaid, Jane Austen more romantic than Harlequin romances? The former all work on multiple levels to satisfy the artistic desire of both the emotions and intellect while the latter examples err by emphasizing one of those elements over the other.

What God has joined together by the breath of life, man should not try to put asunder. To do so minimizes our understanding of our own status as creatures and our ability as sub-creators. Our theology and our lives will suffer as well.


Cindy said...

I find myself guiltily explaining to my friends that I am having an emotional response at church as well as an intellectual one.

I used to tease that our children would all grow up to be pentecostals because they had always gone to such dry church services :) I am glad that we are in a more balanced environment these days. Perhaps they will all be content to remain Presbyterians now.

book-end said...

Wait, wait ... Austen, Rembrandt, Mozart - okay. But Harlequin, Kincaid, Haydn? Hmm... how 'bout Harlequin, Kincaid, Lennon instead. It's not just a matter of taste, after all. Thanks! I depend on your blog.