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The art of secular mystery

December 23, 2005

Stepping away from politics into another way of moving people through art, Paul from Eyeteeth links to an essay of his from February that asks the question: how can art connect us to the divine without distracting us with religion?

Art, it seems, allows us to ponder the sacred in non-dogmatic terms — i.e. divinity for the reality-based community. Of course now is not the heyday for that bunch. But perhaps there’s hope in what theologian Finley Eversole called a “spiritual underground.” For him the term referred to a complex notion that artists who confront the emptiness of a godless world — writing in 1963, he was thinking of Rothko, Pollock, and de Kooning — connect us to the holy by presenting its inverse: “If our artists have been incapable of religious faith, they have at least shown us that modern man is incapable of unfaith.” But I suggest that artists make up a spiritual underground in a different sense. While many mainstream religions are being hijacked by rigid fundamentalists, contemporary artists make up a loose-knit band of the covertly spiritual. If artists of the “secular mystery” can create work that resists co-optation by religious and political ideologues, perhaps we can call on them in more enlightened times to reacquaint us with the joys of asking questions we don’t yet have the answers for.

Read the whole thing here. It’s a good read, especially during a season suffused with pseudo-religious feeling, and explores terrain hinted at inMark Vallen’s essay discussed a few days ago.
Image at top from Pixietart’s flickr photostream.

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