A Caution to “Relevant” Christians
Kate Bresee In contemporary Christianity, we often find a profound devotion to “relevance.” Christians are anxious to overthrow any reputation for being old-fashioned, behind the times, out of touch. The problem with Christianity, these believers say, is that it is too slow to adapt to the changing times; it clings to outmoded traditions and obsolete ethical …
In this essay, Monica argues that there is great value to be gained from reading the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. She explores what Tolkien found good, beautiful, and true about fantasy literature with particular emphasis on how the fantastic, when believable, reflects reality. This essay seeks to shed some light on why Tolkien has become so popular over the past 60 years. It grapples with several common criticisms of fantasy literature as a genre, and hopes to demonstrate that reading The Lord of the Rings doesn’t just make for a delightful Sunday afternoon by the fire: it can actually help us to become better human beings.
Dostoyevsky claims that “Beauty will save the world” because of its connection to Truth and Goodness—“the old trinity.” In a world of nihilism, the world we find ourselves in today, the two trunks of Truth and Goodness have been “crushed, cut down, or not permitted to grow.” Thus, the world’s last hope will come in the form of Beauty. Beauty will fulfill “the task of all three.” But if this is true, we must ask a couple questions about the nature of art, as Solzhenitsyn does: What is art? What is it for? Do artists have a responsibility? And I would add a particularly pertinent question for our present day: Is there art in nihilism? How can one “tell the truth” about nihilism? How can art be used “to regain a robust sense of common cultural meaning” when the culture is nihilism? Do you portray honest pictures of nihilistic art? Or must the Artist slowly defeat it, not with a frontal attack, but with a slow gathering of evidence—a throng of Beauty that will finally pierce the heart of the nihilistic world? In this piece, Beach seeks to answer these questions, but not dryly and logical, but rather on Beauty’s own terms, that is, through poetry.
This piece received first prize in the annual essay contest held by the Agora Institute. Authors were asked to address the purpose of art in light of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1970 “Nobel Lecture.” The author, Ms. Abigail Storch, is a Sophomore and Literature Major.