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“Three Aspirations for the Arts” /

Mark Meynell wrote for the The Rabbit Room in “Three Aspirations for the Arts”:

Assuming that artists are to be visionary prophets, what might that look like? I think it means pursuing at least three separate (though not mutually exclusive) goals.

  1. Truth: Exposing the False, Reflecting the Real
  2. Beauty: Exposing the Idolatrous, Reflecting the Wondrous
  3. Hope: Exposing the Baseless, Reflecting the Future

Art that aspires to truth is informed by Scripture, the basis for personal and cultural renewal. It depicts sin’s consequences and is relevant to human needs. This aspiration to truth is the New Testament pursuit of faith, the faith that comes from hearing and heeding the truth of God’s word.

Art that aspires to beauty points away from the worship of created things and toward the wonders of the Creator. This aspiration to beauty is the New Testament pursuit of love, which spurns love of other things that are put in place of God and spurs on a love and service for others because of God.

Art that aspires to hope portrays a liberating vision that overcomes cynicism and despair. The aspiration to hope is also a main pursuit of the New Testament, alongside faith and love. We are confronted in the New Testament with how a vision of resurrection affects the way we live now.

Meynell acknowledged the place of hope even if he was unsure of what it looked like. “Our art… should surely reflect that hope, in some shape or form. I’ve no idea how — that’s your job!” And, “Surely one of our most urgent questions, and one of our society’s most pressing needs, is for us to find a vocabulary of hope.” This is normal. Scholar N.T. Wright was surprised by hope. We could even say that everyone at some point will be surprised by hope’s significance, if the apostles’ repetition in the New Testament is an indication.

Hope is the least clear goal of the three because it’s the least fulfilled, by definition. The danger comes when it’s also the least pursued. We’ll miss the prophetic warnings and blessings of those who’ve gone before us, which are a part of what helps us press on. And we’ll fail to give vision to the hopeless, to be prophetic.

The effort of artists to find a vocabulary of hope is a part of its fulfillment. Such effort itself renews us. It helps us to work out our salvation in cooperation with God, to heed his warnings and hold firmly to his promises. And the effect of the artist in this pursuit is noticeable, like a shining star, true and beautiful, in a crooked and perverted world (Php. 2:12–16). Therefore, in addition to truth and beauty, it’s vital for prophetic artists to reflect hope, even as — especially as — we are working it out.

These three aspirations echo the “faith, hope and love” pattern of the apostles’ teaching and are a noble calling for the artist.

Let this note be a foothold for hope. Hope doesn’t hide. Hope speaks where it stands.

Seize the hope.
—Hebrews 6:18

It’s a tricky thing that Tolkien is asking: neither to succumb to despair (like Denethor) nor indulge the presumptuous delusion that one’s victories can be everlasting, but rather to live, simply, in hope.

Alan Jacobs, “Tolkien and the possibility of healing” (Jun 4, 2018)

What About Hope? Win the World with It /

Excerpts of K. Scott Oliphint, “Win the World with Hope,” at Desiring God.

An unbelieving friend of mine, with whom I have been communicating the gospel over the years, returned from a business trip to India. It must not have been a particularly pleasant trip, because when I asked him how it went, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Your God cannot exist. If he did, the massive misery that plagues this country would not be present.” … ¶ But biblical eyeglasses require that Christians be hopeful people.

One of the things that seems too often to be obscured in our Scriptural vision is the theological virtue of hope. Along with love and faith, the church has recognized a special place for Christian hope (1 Corinthians 13:13). ¶ But like a middle child, hope has been virtually ignored because of its other two siblings, faith and love…

[W]hat about hope? If hope is set aside, then our biblical vision can easily become extremely near-sighted. Without Christian hope, we have trouble seeing beyond the present circumstances that are right in front of us.

The reality of hope in all of its biblical fullness is given to the church after Christ’s resurrection. This gift tells us a good bit about what our true hope is. Christian hope is grounded in the sure resurrection of those who are united to the One who was raised from the dead. The futility of our faith is thwarted because Christ has been raised (1 Corinthians 15:17). Without that resurrection, faith would have no hope; it would be devoid of any certainty for our future.

… [I]n your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you… (1 Peter 3:15).

… [O]ne of the most powerful truths that we can offer our objectors is true hope.

“Ministerial Friendships and Longevity”: Summary /

Summary of Joe Holland, “Ministerial Friendships and Longevity,” at The Christward Collective.

… I’ve come to believe that there at least two givens and one blind spot when it comes to guarding against ministry burnout. Consider the following:

The first given characterizing the pastors that I know is that they study hard. … [W]e are not going to leave the ministry because we’ve lost our theological moorings. … [P]art of the reason we continue in ministry is due to an insatiable intellectual interest in the things of God and a desire to teach them to others.

The second given is that pastors in our circles usually work hard — fingers-to-the-bone hard. … These men may burn out from exhaustion, but they won’t quit because they’re bored.

So, for pastors that think hard and work hard, what more do they need to look out for? Can these two “givens” get them through a lifetime of pastoral ministry? The easy answer is no. Isolation can be an unexpected and crippling characteristic of a minister who is both orthodox and faithful. That is why ministers need to check their relational blind spot to ensure sustained ministry health. …

Don’t let a blind spot be your undoing. Think hard, work hard, and cultivate lasting friendships.