Valuing the arts

The public meeting concerning the use of a local building was interesting, but what kept drawing my attention was a large painting on the wall. I thought that this oil painting of a winter scene would look great in our living room. As it turned out, we learned that the work was for sale. We bought it, and now it regularly reminds us of the beauties of a late-afternoon winter day.

Is there any way to quantify the value to humanity of a Handel’s Messiah, a performance like Ben Kingsley’s depiction of the Mahatma in Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi, or a beautiful decorative bird produced by a young artist working out of an orphanage in Mozambique? In each case, beyond notes on a page or a piece of clay, the artist has contributed something that potentially improves and uplifts us all. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health: “Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love—be it song, sermon, or Science—blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ’s table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty” (p. 234). 

One assumption behind many of the arts is that we can work well together. When a conductor of a full symphony orchestra and an 80-voice choir brings down the baton and everyone comes in together on the downbeat, they’re affirming that unity and harmony are possible—that human ego can be put aside for a broader good. Such a premise is invaluable and points to the concept in Christian Science that everyone is governed by the one Mind, God. 

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The promise of eternal salvation
August 22, 2011

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