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    All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Chapter Eight

    February 18, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    I‘m still plugging away at this little book, gleaning what I can and also building a booklist so as to increase my comprehension and decrease my ignorance {of which I am becoming increasingly aware}. As far as future reading goes, it seems wise to start with what I already own, so I think my logical next step would be Francis Schaeffer’s Art and the Bible as well as Culture Matters by T.M. Moore. Culture Matters is a broader read, but I remember Si saying that there were discussions of visual art, specifically Celtic Christian artwork, in its pages, as well as general discussions of beauty.

    It’d be a start.

    Anyhow, I appreciated the chart which compared and contrasted pop culture with traditional high culture. I say traditional because Myers makes it very clear {and I have to agree overall with his generalization} that current high culture doesn’t retain the virtues of its rich history.

    The chart was interesting because I realized that what we are trying to do with our family school fell into the high culture column. For example, Myers contrasted focuses on the new {pop culture} and focuses on the timeless {high culture}. There was also emphasizes information and trivia versus emphasizes knowledge and wisdom, and also content and form governed by requirements of the market versus content and form governed by requirements of created order.

    These distinctions are ones I would make between the type of schooling I received and the education I am trying to give. For instance, my elementary school wanted to give its students “the latest” and so we spent critical time, time that could have been spent enhancing our language abilities or learning to think by studying Latin, in front of glowing computer screens in order to learn to program them, type on them, and so on. Because my education was secular, it could only offer me a “smattering of subjects” {as Dorothy Sayers wrote} devoid of wisdom, since wisdom comes from the God who was not welcome at my schools. And the schools I attended had a primary focus on giving me the type of schooling that would produce a widget {me} which {who} would be useful to the American Industrial Economy. Which is to say that this schooling didn’t consider what Scripture says a person is and how a person should be educated. In fact, the idea that education primarily forms a person morally, or produces a certain kind of person, would be unfamiliar to the composite teacher of my past.

    So though I have trouble with High Art issues in specifics, I am beginning to get the big picture here. We are talking about timelessness, transcendence, the things that remain long after eighties rock bands are entirely forgotten.

    Incidentally, I am starting to think that it would have been helpful for Myers to study the classical model of learning before writing this book. As a person coming to the subject {especially the visual art part of the subject} with very few pegs in my brain on which to hang these ideas, it would have been helpful for him to begin at the grammar level, for example, with this chart.

    I’m just saying.

    If there is one contrast on which this chapter stands, it is the contrast between the timeless and the Eternal Present {which is where we all live now, an almost complete disregard for past and future}. He explains how High Culture gave in to the demands of The Present, which resulted in, among other things, novels written in the stream-of-consciousness, improvisation in the theater, once-performed pieces by composers, and art which focused on the activity of painting and sculpting rather than the end product, which was referred to by painter Robert Rauschenberg as “the leftovers.”

    In regard to theater improvisation, this caught my eye:

    Judith Malina, the director of the much celebrated Living Theater, once said, “I don’t want to be Antigone [onstage], I am and want to be Judith Malina.” This “I Gotta Be Me” aesthetic is worthy of a Charles Bronson or a Clint Eastwood, since, after all, moviegoers are paying to see Charles Bronson be Charles Bronson. Let Clint be Clint. But this was rather surprising in theater, since theater has traditionally offered something more than celebrities. Malina’s insistence on playing herself involves, as Daniel Bell has observed, the denial of “the commonality of human experience…To eliminate Antigone, or deny her corporeality, is to repudiate memory and to discard the past.”

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