On transcendence

Francis Spufford considers the power of art.



Francis Spufford considers the power of art.


The world isn’t always beautiful, it’s everything else too, and art isn’t only in the business of reflecting beauty, art is about representing the whole of the human experience of the world, and that’s where its power is.

Christian art – I mean Christian painting, for example, has a story to tell which has got pain and suffering close in to its middle, so is tilted towards realism anyway.  I think that art often works for post-religious people now as their kind of their preferred form of transcendence.

As a Christian I tend to believe that all transcendence is showing us something about Transcendence with a capital T, but I think you need to look at both art and the world with a kind of patience. It’s one of the bad habits of religion to try and close down art into instruction, or to close stories down into sermons. But actually there is nothing to be afraid of for Christians in letting art do its whole work and telling all the possible stories about Christianity because the Christian story too is about all of humanity.