St. Stephen's Musings

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:: St. Stephen's Musings

:: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 ::

Self Expression, Art, Worship and the Trivium

"A classical education assumes that knowledge of the world past and present takes priority over self-expression... [Focusing on self-expression can] actually cripple a child later on; a student who has always been encouraged to look inside himself may not develop a frame of reference, a sense of how his ideas measure up against the thoughts and beliefs of others." (Quoted from "A Well-Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer)

In a society that bases educational success primarily on the creativity and self-esteem of its students, it is no wonder why liturgical forms of worship bore us and why we remain woefully uneducated.

I'm reminded of CS Lewis in "The Screwtape Letters" when Screwtape says, "In reaction [to time tested liturgy, the Christian] may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised." This is not a good thing when it comes to corporate worship or education and I think the two are connected in ways we don't always see.

Matthew Gallatin, in his book "Thirsting for God", recognized the spiritual chasm between self-created worship and "self-expressive" prayers vs. Scriptural worship and the prayers of the saints when he wrote, "The prayers I used to work so hard to create, and which often deceptively gave voice to my self-centerdness, are now replaced with words that are perfect in their humility, selflessness, love and gratitude."

Whether it be worship, prayer, education, or anything else, we would do well to learn from the time tested methods of the masters before attempting the task ourselves. Robert's question works for either education or worship: "If it was relevant and effective for 2000 years, can I be so arrogant to think that it's not going to be relevant now?"

What connections do you see between the classical model of education and liturgical worship? Could it be that "emergent/postmodern" forms of worship are based more on our educational upbringing and less on authenic Christian experience and teaching? Here are couple of other questions on this topic that are being asked by different bloggers:

Chris asks, "What does 'self-less' art look like? How can we spot it? Guard ourselves against it? And what might the major differences be between art as self-expression, and art as worship?"

Internet Monk asks, "What are non-Christians thinking when they hear the message of Jesus and heaven in the context of their own assumptions?"

:: Karl :: 9:45:00 AM [Link] ::

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