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The Importance of Plastic

What I like about philosophy is that you have an idea which you express in a certain way, according to the language you use, the words you know, the analogies you can think of, the categories you have defined, the context you exist in etc... But then you spot something, another idea, expressed rather differently and related to a different situation, yet somehow it seems eerily familiar. I love it when I see a conceptual crossover of ideas. I love Francis Schaeffer's 'line of despair' idea, I love Elaine Scarry's 'beauty makes copies of itself' idea and I love Piet Mondrian's 'plastic art' idea, to name but a few off the top of my head. It's quite reassuring and encouraging to find resonance in your own thinking with the ideas of great minds. But not necessarily surprising. God made the world to work a certain way, so why shouldn't people come up with similar ideas about how to interpret the material and spiritual universe? Anyway, I want to b
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The Only Problem in Art

I've always been enamored by abstract art. For as long as I can remember, the modernist painter's way of interpreting the world has been a constant fascination for me. From the time I learned about Juan Miro as a 5 or 6-year old in primary school, I've been drawn to the fanciful simplicity and stark minimalism of the abstract. This fascination with, or, you could say, affinity for, the abstract aesthetic, doesn't just dictate my appreciation of fine art. Being deeply philosophical, abstract art influences my approach to and colours my perceptions of life. Yet there has been one 'plasticist' in particular, who is far more significant to me than any other, one whose art and philosophy have had a genuine influence on my life. Piet Mondrian is someone whose often nameless 'compositions' held me so utterly captivated that it was no surprise to discover the ideas behind them to be equally enthralling. As I've said many times in the blog previously, aesthet

Jesus IS Ruling Well

Jesus IS Ruling Well As I was reflecting on 2020 and pondering the year ahead, a verse from Psalm 118 came to mind. As it turns out the whole Psalm is full of the type of wisdom that will help us all to reflect on a year we didn’t expect and will help us prepare for a year we can’t really predict. Psalm 118 offers us three things to remember about God, and then an appropriate response at the end. This little transcript is in no way an in-depth exegesis of the whole psalm - so full of glory as it is - but touches on the key points which are of most use to use for helping us get to grips with how God operates in the world. Point one: Remember that God is good The first thing we need to remember according to the psalm is that God is good . Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. That's how the psalm begins. Right from the off, the psalmist is establishing the innate goodness of God. It’s the premise of the rest of the psalm and good practice for us, to recognise that God is a good God

The Beauty of the Church

If we say that what we perceive as beauty is: the relationship between the moral and aesthetic dimension of a thing, beauty becomes eminently important and useful in that everything that is, is moral and aesthetic. This is why we can say that everything is beautiful. Thus, our understanding of how beauty exists serves as a framework of understanding of everything. The relationship between the moral dimension and the aesthetic dimension is vitally important. In fact, the aesthetic dimension depends upon there being a moral dimension and cannot exist without it. A moral dimension can exist without an aesthetic and actually, necessarily precedes and aesthetic. Yet the moral desires an aesthetic. And its value (beauty) depends upon, in large part, achieving an aesthetic expression (though not always, and not entirely). For instance, what good is the desire to be kind to someone (moral dimension) if the opportunity is never taken and the desire never acted upon (aesthetic dimension)? Or, wh

Beauty and Christian Conversion

True Christianity I've recently started reading a series of books introducing the life and works of the eminent theologian, Jonathan Edwards. The series is written by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney who are both worth looking up. The books are a combination of cultural critique, quoted Edwardsian texts, and commentary on those texts. Tiny little books. Well worth breezing through. Succinct, enjoyable yet powerful and necessary.  There are six books in total, working through key themes that Edwards engaged with through his preaching and writing. The first book I've read, entitled True Christianity, seeks to show how Edwards tackled the problem of nominal Christianity within the church and to explain precisely what is the difference between true and false faith by giving an Edwardsian definition of just what true Christianity really is. In summary, the crux of the matter for Edwards, seems to be rooted in one's conversion experience. And without negating the importance of inte