Monday, August 08, 2011

What's up with a group of Dutch Christians and Richard Hays and arts?

It has been a while I has not written a What's up? post that highlights and comments on news that came to my attention. Here is a new one.

It is reported by BBC a group of Dutch people who identify themselves as Christians yet does not believe that God exists. Here's how one of the leaders describes their idea of God:

"When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."

I think those who lived through the 60s, 70s, and 80s would be familiar with such 'God-is-dead' theology. It's nothing new, hence I puzzled over the news report to call this phenomenon 'new Christianity'. The media-giant BBC has amnesia?

Those Dutch clergymen featured in the news seem to have no idea that Don Cupitt and his cohort have tried this decades earlier. For that, I wouldn't expect them to have read Rowan Williams' critique on Cupitt.

Recently Richard Hays, one of the foremost New Testament expert of our time, writes on the relation between Christians and the arts. Here is the portion that I am intrigued by:

"How does the architecture of the buildings in which we live and work shape us? How do iTunes and Netflix tell us stories about who we are and what we should desire? How does the diction of advertising stunt our capacity to speak kindly and truthfully to one another? If theological education focuses only on ideas and fails to reflect on their artistic milieu, we will be quite literally tone-deaf or insensible to major elements of human experience, and we will fail to perceive ways in which the gospel may challenge and transform us."

Hays highlights something we often miss: the aesthetically pleasant things or beings around us tell stories. It tells us who we are and what we are becoming. Have we ever wonder why do we attracted to something and not other things? For that, possibly our preference for which visual and audio stimulant says more about us and our deep-held beliefs than the creed we profess.

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