It is not surprising to find oneself drawn to “the Revelation from Jesus Christ … to his servant John” (Rev 1:1) at a time such as this. To be sure, the Revelation is a strange book with bizarre creatures and indecipherable episodes re-imagined and re-purposed from an ancient vault of Biblical apocalyptic imagery. And, as GK Chesterton so aptly put it; “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” Yet instinctively we sense, if the reader would “heed” (1:3) the words in this book, navigational directives will emerge by which to surmount tumultuous times. Herein lies the allure of the apocalyptic.
At the height of the scientific apologetic debates of the 2000s it felt like both sides were driving in opposite directions in identical cars, each convinced they were driving towards the truth. Perhaps they were, but they were also driving away from something. And I think what they were driving away from, was beauty.
Siedell believes that “art works are not merely objects but products of institutional intention and belief, made under certain conditions and intended to be viewed in specific contexts.” If we as artists are to imagine a better synergy artistic practice and religious practice, we need to do the hard work of understanding these beliefs and intentions.
Culture is thus both human achievement and divine gift. It is, to stay with our metaphor, the performance of our ultimate beliefs and values—the inevitable staging of our religion. If this is so, it is the task of theology pre-eminently to interpret and articulate the meaning of the cultures we inhabit; and to suggest the way of (biblical) wisdom throughout the stages of life.