Art & Religion
Art & Religion
One puts forth any venture of constructive suggestion for these confused times only with the greatest diffidence, knowing far better than any critic can know the weaknesses and ignorances revealed.
Yet there need be no diffidence about any fresh testimony that beauty is desirable and good: nor about the consequent contention that the religion of Protestantism stands profoundly in need of realizing it. This, together with some practical explications, is all I want to say to churchmen.
To artists and lovers of the beautiful, I want to speak my definite expectation of a time soon to come again when patrons of the arts will see in the religious institution an incomparable opportunity for the most pervasive influence of beauty upon the people. Every church building in village or city should itself be a noble work of art. And the arts have each a proper place in the fostering of the supreme experience of worship.
I am led to say these things by the very oppressive burden of disunity in the spiritual life of the community and the time. There cannot be an age of great artistic brilliance until we reach a more nearly harmonious faith. I am happy in the simple daily work of a parish minister. But I am unhappy and deeply disquieted amidst the discord in the religious world. I wish I could have mental fellowship with the Catholics: I wish I could have it with more of my Protestant brethren: not merely for the easement of my own aesthetic discomfort, but for the sake of countless others. There can be no cure for many souls until we are together.
Inasmuch as many readers wish to know who it is who speaks of any matter, it is proper to state that I am the regularly installed pastor of a Congregational Church. Much of my feeling in things ecclesiastical is doubtless derived, however, from the Reformed Church in which I was bap-