Winning the Culture War
Posted on January 2 2011 2:00 pm
When I was receiving my degree in Comparative Religion I studied art a great deal because it is the crystallization of abstract ideas into concrete forms. Art transmits our cultural values and mythos to future generations. Whether the cave paintings of ancient man, the grand cathedrals of old Europe, or the custom-made crucifix purchased from a silver smith, works of art transmit symbolic meaning to the world and solidify the esoteric traditions that are the foundation of our civilization. The same silver crucifix that makes a beautiful gift also, to the Christian, is a representation of the central mystery of their faith – the death and resurrection of their Lord. The removal of the crucified Jesus from Protestant crosses is not just aesthetic, it symbolizes those Christians’ adherence to the ideals of the Reformation.
But social conservatives have abandoned art to the Left and condemned several generations of Americans to only experience anti-Western neo-Marxist ideas when exposed to any kind of art – except perhaps country music and western films made before the 1970s. How can we defend our traditions if we don’t allow people to experience the beauty of them? How do we stand for life if we can’t express our appreciation of the sublime? How can we promote marriage without the ability to create symbols of Love? How can we argue for views which are often informed by faith alone in purely intellectual terms?
Where are the socially conservative poets? Where are the paintings that express our ideals? What play has been written that promotes faith and freedom, courage and honor? Why have we ceded artistic expression to those who know neither beauty of wonder, Love or faith? How do we expect to teach future generations any of those things in a world overrun with art that promotes only hatred, class envy and despair?
In 2007 an “artist” in Nicaragua chained a stray dog up in a gallery and starved the poor creature to death. The animal’s torture was part of an exhibit that hundreds of people came to view. People claim that this is art. What exactly is being transmitted through this depravity?
It is a pretension among social conservatives to dismiss the arts, but without our own presence in the arts we have marginalized our ideas by taking away our ability to have people feel them, instead of just hear what they are. That difference is not a small one as any person who is religious knows. We must begin producing artists who will transmit our ideals to the masses or our ideals will die.