–> Details of the service location/time/call-in number are at the bottom of this post. <–
In a conversation I had with a friend the other day, we found ourselves thinking about the value of art. It began with curiosity: namely, of what makes the world value art less than, say, the work of a mechanic or an accountant. Why does our culture know the stereotype of the “starving artist” so well? Why does it happen, not too infrequently, that an artist will be asked to share their work for free, while that would very rarely be expected of someone who fixes a leaky shower faucet or does your taxes?
There are a lot of variables at play… but, breaking it down, the most basic answer I saw was that people find something more tangible in those things. In response, my friend pointed out that art and its value can be sort of mysterious—for instance, explaining why a piece of art is worth something can be more complex than explaining why a fixed faucet is worth something. (And never mind trying to understand the piece of art itself, or trying to know what caused it to exist in the first place! There’s a lot of mystery in general that surrounds art.)
It then occurred to me that one big answer would naturally be found by looking at people’s view of life and vitality. Simply put: if you’re seeing the (material) body as the principal part of your identity, then of course, it’s only natural that the things that go towards the preservation of the body—feeding it, giving it shelter, setting it up with reliable resources – are going to have the most obvious value.
If, on the other hand, you feel the less “tangible” element of soul as being a core part of your identity—i.e. if you feel a strong connection to the parts of you that the five senses can’t locate—then you’re probably very able to identify with the value of art. Mainly because art is, by its nature, an excavation of deep identity—of soul… or Soul, if we’re to consider this essential quality as God-like, as holy.
The thing is, we all love art, and we innately feel connected to the art we like. I do believe that’s because this holy Soulfulness is really the fabric of who we are. We’re just not always entirely clear how it compares to the needs of the body.
My personal takeaway from the conversation was this: every time we awe at something that art does, every time we celebrate the (supposedly) intangible beauty that lies beyond material existence, we’re actually taking a stand for Soul. We’re putting our arms around our deep spiritual identity.
And, at the same time, we’re taking a powerful whack at mortality… at the idea that our lives are stuck inside the breaths & heartbeats of a bodily lifespan. We’re learning that we are actually endless.
So embrace Soul! Let yourself feel connected to it, through beauty, art, what have you. Consciously notice that you do this. It’ll help you see more of your immortal nature. It’ll point you away from the body and towards health—really, towards immortality.
(And to clarify the first part of this blog post, none of this is really about what people choose to lay down cash for. Every situation is different, after all; there’s no judgment of those decisions. 🙂 More than this, I’m interested in how that concept helps us explore our definition of identity.)
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In a fine example of good timing, we’ll be considering the topic “Soul and Body” during our church service tomorrow. We’ll hear how every blade of grass and every star is “distinct and eternal.” (Mary Baker Eddy) You’re invited to come and pray about this with everyone in attendance, or to defend this idea in your thought from wherever you are.
Christa & JP Church
Details about tomorrow’s service:
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
(605) 475-4000 x.636128 – for remote attendees
10:35am – 11:35am-ish, EST
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure Love.