In the past two weeks, I have had a number of opportunities to revel in the beauty of art! In Spain, my husband and I viewed three musuems with works from Picasso, Goya, and Dali, who are native sons of Spain, but we also saw works by van Gogh, Rembrandt, da Vinci, etc. This past Friday, a friend took me to Marjorie Merriweather Post's mansion, where we viewed interior design, jewelry, landscaping, etc. Tonight, my husband and I will go with another couple to hear some classical music and dine at a French restuarant.
What do all these things have in common? Human innovation in creative "arts" that are only representative of another realm. Beauty is not functional EXCEPT to point beyond itself to bring a sense of awe or reverence, or to make a statement of meaning that could not be expressed in the functional. The humanities are indeed important to "man" and should be respected by the Christian, for it is in experiencing life's beauty that the worship of "God" can function. Theology itself is an "art". Without beauty, life is less colorful, and lively and therefore, less enjoyable and meaningful.
Some believe that these enjoyments should be denied, as they are an extravagant and wasteful use of means. This is asceticism. I would argue that it is not the ends, but the reasons that are the important aspect of virtue. Do we with gratitude experience our lives, understanding that all is gift?