Cosmos in Chaos

In a recent conversation about art, creativity, beauty, excellence, and ministry, I wished for a week’s time to discuss the themes. I have no statements to make, only ideas to explore. Madeleine L’Engle’s book, Walking on Water is a good read about these matters. This is one of my favourite quotes from there:

Leonard Bernstein says that for him, music is cosmos in chaos. That has the ring of truth in my ears and sparks my creative imagination. And it is true not only of music; all art is cosmos, cosmos found within chaos. At least all Christian art is cosmos in chaos. There’s some modern art, in all disciplines, which is not; some artists look at the world around them and see chaos, and instead of discovering cosmos, they reproduce chaos, on canvas, in music, in words. As far as I can see, the production of chaos is neither art, nor is it Christian.

Several deductions:
~Making cosmos (order) out of chaos is part of embracing the glory and wonder of being made in God’s image.
~Creating cosmos communicates, and it is more than talking to myself, though that has its place.
~Christian art might be characterized best by its outward focus, its valuing God and others over self. Does that mean that art/ creativity is service/ministry? This reminds me of how Michael Card, in his Scribbling in the Sand, quotes Vincent van Gogh: The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
~Jesus was an artist when He washed His disciples’ feet, and later when He served them breakfast.
~I get to eat brunch with several artists in just a couple minutes!

4 thoughts on “Cosmos in Chaos

  1. I partially agree. I mean, I do think artists can (and should) reconstruct and resolve chaos… but isn’t there also a place for exposing and portaying the fragmented chaos? Whether musical, written, or visual, I’ve been powerfully changed by pieces that expose the chaos… allowed me to touch with my spirit what for so many people is reality. Or maybe I just react when everything always has a neat conclusion because that doesn’t feel true to me.

    Excellent deductions! I love, LOVE the van Gogh quote.

    Have a happy brunch!

  2. So you want to make art that only depicts goodness and nice feelings? If you want to communicate with people you have to go further than Thomas Kinkade. I would say that refusing to consider chaos is valuing comfort more than a desire to minister to people. Sometimes helping people means getting dirty and looking at some ugliness.

  3. Loved the quote from Van Gogh. I think I need to read Scribbling in the Sand.

    I liked what you said about bringing cosmos out of chaos. We don’t ignore the chaos or paint over it, we don’t always resolve everything, but I think the best art comes when we believe in goodness and beauty beyond the chaos. “For the simplicity on this side of complexity I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.” –Oliver Wendall Holmes

  4. After reading your blog, Anita, and the subsequent comments, I happened upon a quote by that great theologian and Irish rocker, Bono. “The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt.”

    Another time Bono said it takes the darkness to realize the light. Ultimately though, all art should lead us to light.

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