The Art of Divine Truth
Ars gratia gratis - Art for the sake of art has been carried to the extreme in this day and age and forgotten in the mix is the Master of masters Who Alone is the reason for Ars gratia Veritatis Divinis - Art for the sake of Divine Truth!
"Divine Truth is drawn and carved by the Divine Master of The Universe, and just as art is not pushed on us but must be approached, so too only those aware and appreciative of Divine Truth will approach and draw inspiration from Divine Truth. In any gallery, some will focus on superficial pieces and others will zero in on what is truly magnificent art. Likewise, in society's moral gallery, some will giggle and buy into trash and others will focus on great moral direction and guidance."
This Friday America will be bombarded with all kinds of images of "art" in advertising, promotion and images depicting the Christmas season that officially begins at 6 a.m. on the Day after Thanksgiving. But what can we be thankful for if Christmas is slowly but surely being twisted into a commercial farce and all semblance of the reason for the season eliminated? Sadly, soon, too soon, celebrating the Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, Son of God, will be relegated to the catacombs. I touched on this in my last column with the inverted 'Christmas' trees and the paganization of a Christian feast. What the manipulators of today's society are doing is forcing us to focus on the ridiculous while forgetting the sublime.
And it is the sublime which merits always respect and preservation. That is why great art is preserved in museums and galleries for it has value. Today there is so little of value left because values have been abandoned, virtues left behind. I bring this up because I can still recall my various visits to art galleries as microcosms of the moral battles which characterize this society. In a sense, the relationship between art and Divine Truth can be perceived from three angles. Each angle gives us critical information about why Divine Truth is the only art that will paint a portrait of eternal salvation.
Parade of Patrons
Visit any art gallery and you will undoubtedly see a steady stream of patrons pacing across the various works. To begin with, it seems as if most of these people tend to follow the herd in that they generally go in the direction that most other people are going. You rarely see someone observing art contrary to the direction that most others are doing so. It is almost as if there is an understood rule that following a given direction or convention or popular path is the most effective way to observe art. Is this not how our society likewise tells us that following a certain set of values, moral codes, or conduct standard popular and consistent with modern, secular, and liberal thinking is the best way to live?
One can also notice that few if any patrons look at their feet as they move across the works. Their eyes are so transfixed on the art that they ignore everything else, even to the point of not realizing where they are grounded. Is this not how our society hypnotizes us with its message to the point of rendering us incapable of maintaining our moral footing? Likewise, the more intently each patron looks at art, the more advanced, qualified, and refined that patron appears. If A observes a piece or painting closely with a pad and pen in hand and takes notes, B and C look at that same art while conversing and joking, and D simply giggles at each piece, most would see A as a serious art lover, B and C as superficial visitors, and D as an idiot or a fish out of water. Does not our society judge us by how closely we follow its message, yet does it not conversely favor a more superficial, cavalier, even foolish and silly attitude toward what is really important?
The angle of the patrons tells us that our chances for eternal salvation depend not only on which works of moral art we value and admire, but how closely we focus on and learn from those works. If we only admire what is secular, modernist, heretical, liberal, convenient, selfish, and superficial, we will become patrons of perdition and students of sin. If we only follow popular fads and notions and do not ground ourselves in true Divine Truth and morality, then we will float aimless and clueless toward the exit right into hell.
Divine Truth is drawn and carved by the Divine Master of The Universe, and just as art is not pushed on us but must be approached, so too only those aware and appreciative of Divine Truth will approach and draw inspiration from Divine Truth. In any gallery, some will focus on superficial pieces and others will zero in on what is truly magnificent art. Likewise, in society's moral gallery, some will giggle and buy into trash and others will focus on great moral direction and guidance.
By "moral art" I do not here mean art that is moral in character and not violent or obscene. Consider the work of the great masters like Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt and others. They often depicted violence and nudity, but always in the moral sense; never gratuituously or for shock value. Today that is what floods us in every aspect of society and that translates into the moral character, basis and baseness of the "works of art" presented in the art gallery of this society. Just as one can observe a sculpture of painting, one can also observe, admire, or reject a belief, fad, or moral code as consistent or inconsistent with one's moral taste and chosen path.
No matter the form of art or the art movement represented, each piece represents the artist's notion of something, be it reality, imagination, beauty, death, or whatever else is intended. This is not something only found in "art galleries" but floods out on television, in print, on the net, in fashions, in architecture, and is visible everywhere. Think not only of the fare offered as programming, but commercials are saturated with, for the most part, bad art, tasteless art, offensive art that in no way could ever be related to moral art.
People instinctively want to know the artist of a work they like. Likewise, after a while and with study, they can identify that artist by merely looking at his or her work. Likewise, we will know and appreciate God and what God wants from us if we know and appreciate the works that come from Him. Also, we will come to see and know God more by merely grouping His works and sensing their message.
Lines and Spaces
No matter what form art takes, it is about lines and spaces. As G.K. Chesterton wisely observed, "art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere."
Without lines there can be no art, because lines define where art begins and ends, where it is going, what its meaning is, and what its message is. Likewise, without lines in conduct and belief there can be no morality, because morality means having defined notions of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and rights, the past, present, and future.
Lines not only define art, they create the space which further defines that art and breathes life into it. Space means separation of lines, of borders, of thresholds. While there can be unity in art in the sense that various art pieces follow a given theme or represent a given school or movement, art thrives best in separation. If all art was the same, it would lose its truth, its vitality, its ability to be meaningful to us. Likewise, the current fads of unity at all cost and inclusion seek to eliminate lines, separation, and spaces between things which do not go together because they are not the same. Just as it is foolish to call an abstract painting the same thing as a classical sculpture, it is absurd to pretend that all religions are the same or that right and morality is a subjective thing.
Likewise, no matter what the moral idea presented in the gallery of society, each represents a perception of reality, eternity, salvation, humanity, sin, evil, good, etc. Just as true art critics will give each piece consideration and judge each work with informed knowledge, objective standards, and subjective feelings, so too we must judge the moral art in society's gallery by informing ourselves and applying God Almighty's standards based on Divine Truth and Natural Law. As humans we cannot erase our subjective feelings, but Divine Truth and Natural Law remind us that we must control and subject these feelings to Truth and not arrogance, selfishness, and whim.
That is why we must recognize the insidious and, unfortunately, successful attempt to eradicate all semblance of Christianity from the face of American culture. Thanks to infiltration of the arts this has transferred from the gallery of permissiveness to mandatory by runaway atheistic courts who are only too willing to eliminate God from the equation. It's the old misery loves company syndrome and, sadly, they have plenty of company as they inflate the numbers of homosexuals, pro-aborts, and non-Christians to dictate the mores of today in a society that is fast becoming a mirror of what happened to the Greek civilization. That, of course, was before the coming of the Messiah. And therein is the line drawn on mankind - BC and AD.
Christ is all about drawing lines in the sand and creating spaces and separation from sin and deception. He did not merely hug all ideas and beliefs as being sacred. He rejected those works that denied or rejected God. For Our Lord there only works worth admiring are those that bring us closer to God. The space is that between Lazarus and the rich man, between heaven and hell, between salvation and damnation, between paradise and perdition. Ironically, this society sells unity and erasing lines yet creates separation precisely from the God Who matters most while favoring union with death and sin.
Again, it was G.K. Chesterton who wisely observed that, "when people stop believing in God, when they believe in nothing…they'll believe in anything."
We are living in a society that calls a tin can art, which dares to call blasphemous images and depictions of God, Our Lord, and The Blessed Mother art as well. This society that claims that anything goes and beauty is in the eye of the beholder has truly turned art into the same subjective, arrogant, selfish, superficial, twisted, distorted, dark, and false caricature that its morality has become. The true Master of Universal Art is ignored in this society's gallery of gall. The works of this world's moral gallery are pathetic shreds of moral trash offered as masterpieces of conduct and belief. Devoid of the lines and spaces created by the True Master, these works are nothing but blank backgrounds empty of Divine Truth or any eternal meaning.
I once saw an art critic spend half an hour describing the genius apparent in a drawing he was shown. This critic began to explain how the piece demonstrated tremendous insight and creativity sprinkled with profound sensitivity and awareness of the human condition. The critic concluded that the artist was obviously someone who had suffered much, seen much, and learned much from life. He valued the work in the thousands, and added that it would likely be worth millions someday. When informed that the piece was actually the work of a 7 year old boy goofing around at home, this critic remained silent for a while, and then he declared that this boy would someday create great art. Such is the rationalized lunacy of this society and its gallery of moral works. While Divine Truth is etched by The Hand of The Grand Master of The Universe, this society's moral works are indistinguishable from the doodling of a child!
Editor's Note: Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, submits regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes are music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.