“Bright with Hope”
How you sing,
Here in our gloom and tragedy,
All we see is
Sickness and fear,
No sense of solace, no glimmer
That God is near.
How you sing!
You are the hint
Of better things in view
Of life renewed, bright tints abloom,
Of newness springing through, beyond
Our grief and gloom.
Here you sing,
Amid our sorrow,
Unabashed, bright with hope
Just a quick list of a few things to help with the self-isolation of the pandemic:
- Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe (and everything else on Avrotros Klassiek)
- The Black Book of Carmarthen
- One-Star Reviews of National Parks (#11 is my favorite)
- Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories by Magpie Audio
- The paintings of Thomas Cole
- Most importantly, The Holy Bible
For there is no comfort to compare with the Word of God:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, NIV)
Individually and collectively we need a basis for knowing what is real and right. Only with a knowledge of the truth can we make wise decisions that will lead to human flourishing.
But in a pluralistic society, competing truth claims vie for recognition. Sometimes this leads to a relativistic outlook, where truth is privatized. A person may defy absolute reality and claim legitimacy for “my truth”, which is personal and immune to challenge. This is untenable, because relativism is ultimately the rejection of truth—the rejection of reality. If there is no objective and absolute truth, there is no reality.
Truth exists, but how can we know it? If we cannot know it, we are blind in our pursuit of meaning and of a flourishing society. If truth is knowable, there may be several ways of discovering it, such as rational consideration and scientific examination. But truth discovered in these ways will always be limited by our own frailties and the finitude of our knowledge. Is there any absolute way to know the absolute and objective reality outside of us?
Jesus prayed to God the Father, “your word is truth” (John 17:17, NIV).
God is the absolute reality, Creator of the entire cosmos. He knows what is. He speaks the truth, and tells us what is good and beautiful. Divine revelation provides an absolute reference point for human knowledge of reality.
As individuals, our lives will only be built on truth if they are built on a proper relationship with God in Jesus Christ, who is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In submission to God’s Word, we will know the truth. As a society, we will only have the proper basis for human flourishing if the overall character of our culture is consonant with Christian truth. A Christian society will allow individual members freedom to believe untruth; but a pluralistic society, with no fundamental commitment to the truth or the source of truth, cannot be expected to promote human flourishing.
Flourishing, individually and collectively, requires receptivity towards the truth and rejection of all falsehood. We must love the truth if we wish to be free.
We live in a time where we enjoy tremendous and unprecedented advances in knowledge. Not only do we have a great deal of knowledge about the world, but we apply this knowledge in ways that give us greater comfort, health, and security, than most people in the history of the world have experienced. But for all of our titanic knowledge, ours is an age deeply lacking in wisdom.
Wisdom is the transcendental virtue, the ability to discern what is true and good and beautiful. Knowledge tells us what can be done, but wisdom tells us what should be done. And great knowledge without great wisdom can be a very dangerous thing.
For the opposite of wisdom is folly, and the way of folly is the way of death. Folly cries out to those who pass by, tempting them with her offer; “But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead (Prov. 9:18, NIV). Increasing knowledge, without increasing wisdom, creates increasing opportunities for harm. The pursuit of wisdom is the pursuit of life. “The one who gets wisdom loves life” (Prov. 19:8).
But where can wisdom be found? We must start with God. God is the font of all wisdom. As the prophet Daniel declared, “wisdom and power are his…he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” (Dan. 2:20, 22). We must have regard for God if we wish to be wise; “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Prov. 9:10). So it is impossible to acquire wisdom without repentance. Idolatry is folly, and we cannot find wisdom without turning away from idols and towards the all-wise God.
With reverence and confidence, the wise man looks to God for wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (Jas. 1:5). In prayer, we ask God to graciously give us wisdom from above. In devotion, we look to the Holy Bible, God’s written Word, and take His wisdom to heart.
Ultimately, the pursuit of wisdom centers on Christ. We are to know Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Jesus Christ is the key to finding wisdom in this world of chaos and folly, light in the darkness, life eternal in the face of death. Christ “has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
Coming to Christ, giving ourselves to Him in faith, we return to a right relationship with God. In this relationship with our Creator, we gain understanding of our purpose and how to thrive in the cosmos He has made. Getting right with Him, we get to know what is right—what is true, beautiful, and good.
I know, I know, but I just couldn’t help myself.
You have perhaps already read that a banana duct-taped to the wall has been declared a sculpture and sold (in three versions) for $120,000 or more each. This is only the latest demonstration of the farcical level to which the art world has sunk in the (post)modern era.
There is an absurd pretentiousness about it all. Consider the words of the gallery’s founder, Emmanuel Perrotin:
Prior to the reported sale, Perrotin told CNN the bananas are “a symbol of global trade, a double entendre, as well as a classic device for humor,” adding that the artist turns mundane objects into “vehicles of both delight and critique.”
Such is the vacuous defense of the debasement of art in a culture that has lost sight of truth and goodness. Those are the three characteristics classically referred to as the “transcendentals”: the true, the beautiful, and the good. It makes sense that our cultural elites, who have so constantly twisted the truth and perverted goodness would develop a debased sense of beauty.
The ready reply is that, by seeing foolishness here instead of brilliant artistic satire, I only show myself to be a Philistine who doesn’t understand art. Ignorance is why someone like me rejects modern art. This is the paradox of our educational system; somehow, adequate education and enlightenment is supposed to produce people who think a duct-taped banana is art, and that eating that banana is “performance art.”
Yet there is a comfort in the observation of common grace. I think that this story is so widely publicized because most people see this situation for what it is. Only those initiated into the nonsense of (post)modern art are deceived by this; only the elitists are buying it–figuratively and literally.
The phrase of the day comes from Bernard Lonergan’s The Triune God: Systematics, trans. Michael G. Shields (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), page 207:
Once these things have been grasped, the gnoseological foundation of hylomorphism comes to light…
Oh boy, does it ever.