Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Lent for Extroverts 6: A material world

In a somewhat non Lenten spirit on Day 6 of Lent I gorged on good food and art. 

'Gorged' is a slightly strong word, I'll admit, but when half term holiday (joyous, work-less, celebratory) falls in Lent (introspective, intense for clergy, penitential) it's very hard to know what mood to adopt. I'd never eaten in Eat. before. The clue is in the name: it was all about the food, full stop. There was soup consisting of little Thai dumplings, noodles, been sprouts, chilli and ginger flavour. Hot and warming on a cool, bright February day. Then I had the most amazing salad I think I've ever tasted from a plastic box: mixed green leaves; shredded beetroot and carrot; bright green bean seeds; thin, soft slices of broccoli sprouts; fennel seeds; pumpkin seeds; mixed rice; dried cranberries; pomegranate seeds; mung beans; feta cheese and a dressing of honey, lime, mint and white wine vinegar. I may have missed out some ingredients.

Tate Modern from the Milleniun Bridge
This altogether surprising lunch acted as filler between two Tates: Tate Britain and Tate Modern. So there were more thoughts about the attraction of the sensory world.....The relationship between spirit and body has always troubled believers. The Gnostics thought the physical body evil and that life's aim must be purely spiritual. Christianity is an embodied religion, though, celebrating at its heart the Incarnation - the becoming flesh of God in the person of Jesus Christ. 

The Incarnation means we can celebrate the stuff of the senses; however the more sensitive amongst believers have often warned against the deification of the sensual world, presumably concerned about the warnings in John's Epistle about 'the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life'. But when does sheer enjoyment of food or art, for instance, tip into this 'carnal' approach? Are appetites God-given?

I found one blog post purporting to offer 'a Biblical World view'  which suggested the five senses all 'report to the carnal mind', and lead to evil. But if God is Creator of all things good, don't 'good' things eventually point back to Him if we are open to His presence everywhere?

Or might there be some art which reveals Him in the 'good' creation of the physical world more than other art? Is there God-hating art? Is modern art another symptom of our abandoning of God in the late 20th/early 21st Century? Is art moral? Does the morality of the artist have a bearing on his/her work? And should Lenten discipline always involve denying one of the five senses?

No comments:

Post a Comment