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More thoughts from H.R. Rookmaaker

January 12, 2013

Taken from his booklet Art Needs No Justification. I am using the text found in The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker ( Carlisle, UK: Piquant 2002), and all references and page numbers refer to that version.

“We should remind ourselves that Christ did not come to make us Christians or to save our souls only, but that he came to redeem us in order that we might be human, in the full sense of that word. To be new people means that we can begin to act in our full, free human capacity in all facets of our lives. therefore to be a Christian means that one has humanity, the freedom to work in God’s creation and to use the talents God has given to each of us, to his glory and to the benefit of our neighbours. So, if we have artistic talents, they should be used” (324).

“If as Christians we often feel so much at home in this world, we have to ask ourselves whether we have not been influenced by the standards of the world around us…we sing that Jesus is the answer; yes, but to what?” (325)

“Weep for the present situation. See how far we have drifted from an acceptable foundation. Let us care about the many who lead lives that seem to be empty and useless. Even the world is concerned about these things. TV shows that commercialism, violence, sex, cheap entertainment and escapism in a totally secularized world are the only realities left. Meaning has to be rediscovered and restored to our actions and endeavors. We must analyse the siutation and try to find out what is wrong and to assess our own place and role in it” (326).

“As C.S. Lewis says so beautifully, we have enough little Christian tracts and books, but if we look for the rechristianization of Europe or the USA it will not come if people cannot look for a good book in a certain field and find that the book comes out of the Christian camp” (329).

“Often we are satisfied too soon, too easily. We pick up what the world sdoes, change some obvious things, and then we think we have arrived. Our paintings are sometimes the same as ‘theirs,’ maybe just a little bit less shocking or radical. But to be a Christian is not to be conservative or less exciting” (329).

“All too often artists, in order to fit into the patterns of evangelism, have compromised and so prostituted their art. Handel with his Messiah, Bach with his St. Matthew Passion, Rembrandt with his Denial of St. Peterand the architects of those Cisterian churches were not evangelizing, nor making tools for evangelism; they worked to the glory of God. They did not compromise their art. They were not devising tools for religious propaganda or holy advertisement. And precisely because of that they were deep and important. Their works were not the means to an end, the winning of souls, but they were meaningful and an end in themselves, to God’s glory and showing forth something of the love that makes things warm and real” (330).

“If you are a Christian, don’t be ashamed of it. Work out of the fullness of your being and give the best you have. You can never be better than you are. Be ashamed to be less, but you can fall into pride and foolishness if you want more. This means don’t be afraid and live out your freedom. And don’t let this be spoiled by your sinfulness. Sin takes freedom away. Walk in Christ’s way, yes, but this must be done out of your own convictions, out of your own understanding, and in love and freedom. It is never just the application of some rules, some do’s and some don’ts. It is more real, more honest. It should be a commitment” (332).

“A plumber who gives some great evangelistic talk but lets the water leak on is not doing the job. This is a bad plumber. It becomes clear that such a person does not lover his or her neighbor” (334).

“The great norm in all this is love for God and our neighbor” (338).

“Finally we ask on which level, in which situation, such music can be appropriate. The marches of Sousa are very fine but totally inadequate for use in a church service. And is the rock music of today adaptable to Christian expression? Is it enough just to add other words? Music is never just words. Its expression is total, even more than in the melody, rhythm and harmony than in the words. This does not mean, of course, that anything goes in the texts. Not only ought there to be a unity between words and music, the music has to ‘carry’ the text, underline it as it were, but the expression found in the music has to be in line with the text. However the text itself certainly has to stand up. I have heard so-called Christian rock in which the worlds were quite heretical and unbiblical” (341).

“Life and art are too complex to lay down legalistic rules. But that does not mean that there are no norms” (341).

“Certainly we should not ‘choose’ a style just because we want to be ‘in’, ‘with it’, make our work better saleable or popular. We should have the courage to be ourselves, to be honest. This to me is the minimum requirement for any work of art” (344).

“In the lines above one should not read that entertainment as such is wrong. In a way all art is entertainment, the God-given opportunity to relax with good music, with good art, a fine book. And there is nothing wrong with a ballad, with dance music (Mozart made quite a bit of it) or with cartoons or posters, illustrations. But whatever one does, it has to have quality. Remember what we said before about Dr. Isaac Watts. He wrote popular songs at the highest level.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 13, 2013 3:59 am

    Just goes to show that we ought to have copies of Herman Dooyeweerd’s New Critique in every prison camp.

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