The Christian Aesthetic Essay: BSed
A Christian, when faced with the challenge of writing, finds himself in a dilemma: how is he to complete the task? Should he create an allegory? Should he try to teach a lesson reflecting God’s glory? Or should he follow secular trends and current desires in literature? To this, many Christians would say, “Certainly not!” Dorothy L. Sayers and Flannery O’Connor both aim to answer the first question of any Christian writer: How do I write a story with my beliefs?
2 Corinthians 3:18 states, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is ...view middle of the document...
This in no way hinders his perception of evil but rather sharpens it, for only when the natural world is seen as good does evil become intelligible as a destructive force and a necessary result of our freedom” (O’Connor 157). The artist’s work, once created, shows the deeper meaning that the secular world does not recognize. Symbolism is often used, but frequently exhausted. The Christian novelist cannot try to focus on his work through the eyes of the Church. If he does, he will fail to create something that reaches his intended audience: the secular world. O’Connor reminds her readers, “When the Catholic novelist closes his own eyes and tries to see with the eyes of the Church, the result is another addition to that large body of pious trash for which we have so long been famous.” Take, for example, The Shack. It presents interesting religious doctrine, but does nothing for the secular world, which, if unwilling to listen to Christian dogma, will throw it aside at the first glance.
A Christian artist’s belief should, instead of overpowering his work, shape his work. Christianity allows the artist to see through new eyes. He believes in sin, and therefore, sees evil in more places than the secular artist might. O’Connor states, “[Christian dogma] frees the storyteller to observe. It is not a set of rules which fixes what he sees in the world. It affects his writing primarily by guaranteeing his respect for mystery.” The artist should, through his beliefs, create a relation to his own experience. Sayers uses the idea of the Trinity to show what a novel should be: Idea (the Father), Energy (the Son), and Power (the Spirit). In order for this Idea to be incarnated as a work, the Energy behind words must be present, and in order for it to mean anything, the Power of the words to affect those who read must also be present (Sayers 150-154).
The artist’s beliefs aid his work through the three core beliefs of Christianity: the Fall, the Redemption, and the Judgement (O’Connor 185). The Christian recognizes that man is inherently evil and will do evil things to himself and those around him. He also recognizes that a Savior has redeemed man, and man can overcome the evil things. And finally, he sees that there will be a final time when man will have to attest to all his wrongdoings. These beliefs will bleed into his work without becoming overbearing.
It is often surprising what authors say...