Friday, August 3, 2012
Meaninglessness and the Artist's Glory
I suppose it’s easy to believe in the Big Bang and evolution…when you’re sitting inside reading textbooks. But when you step outside, when you walk down paths surrounded by trees that flame in a thousand shades of orange, when you walk beside pools as still as solid glass that gleam with the fallen jewels, when you prick your finger on a sculpted thorn or try to understand the cheeps and splutters of an angry songbird, that’s when you realize God’s creative genius.
In Jesus lies the creativity of all peoples and all ages, the infinite supply of originality, wit, pleasure, purpose, genius, efficiency, and care. Every artist from Vivaldi to Van Gogh, from Michelangelo to Melville, claimed only a part of our Lord’s creativity, skill, and capacity for wonder. Only walk in a field of grass, with papery dried seed pods dangling and fluttering in the wind, and pick one plant, then one pod cluster, then one piece of the cluster, then open to reveal one tiny, dark, slender brown seed and see the intricacies of that tiniest of things, and remember that every pod, every piece, every cluster, every plant, every field on earth has a seed as beautiful as this one, and marvel.
It’s just like the movies: set designers create a scene with such depth of detail, such painstaking accuracy, that 99% of viewers will never notice half of what they see. Hundreds of hours of work, millions of dollars are poured into making every frame a rich, complete experience. And why? Is it because they enjoy sweating blood over details that will never be appreciated, or because they’re paid extra for attention to perfecting the invisible? The only explanation is love—love for the work, love for the purpose, love for the actors, love for the audience.
Why didn’t He create a dystopia, the sort of world we imagine in a more technologically advanced future? Why isn’t this a bleak and featureless world that works like a motor, grinding out sustenance and subsequent generations with the ease and monotony of a canning factory? Could He have accomplished His Will for the world without beauty, without spectacle, without awe? Perhaps. Could He have daily communicated His overwhelming love for mankind in a better way? I think not. The frivolity, the triviality, the playfulness, the lighthearted whimsy of the world we live in—with all its exotic insects, curious plant life, hidden gemstones, all its capacity for sensation, confusion, and enjoyment—shows that there must be a brazen artist behind this earth.
I see two horses running, running as if they’re just so happy they can’t help themselves, around and around their pasture. Why do they run? Why do they toss their manes and kick clods of dirt into the air in an attempt to go ever faster towards no goal whatsoever? It’s pointless, meaningless, and yet it’s the entire meaning behind the horse. If they were only something like an engine, no more than a mechanical mode of transportation, they would not be what God created them to be; instead they are alive, strikingly and tangibly alive.
The whole world looks alive sometimes, from a smooth purple shell to a rainbow cast across the arc of the sky, and it’s because it was all created by something alive, something vibrantly, beautifully, unapologetically alive. Chance is no such god; an invisible principle guiding a random assortment of amino acids is nothing to worship, nothing to thank. And thanks must be given, it is required by the world around us, by every breath we breathe and every sound we hear and every texture we feel. The God we worship is alive, without Him nothing was made, without Him this is a world without meaning. Our world is full of meaningless trivialities, details that no one will ever notice, and so proves the glory and mastery of its loving artist.
- Originally posted on my writing blog, Opening My Vein