A moderately-sized crowd gathered in McInnis auditorium for the September 30 session of Windows on the World.
The speaker was Dr. Bruce Lockerbie, chairman of PAIDEIA, Incorporated. He has taught Bible and English at the Stoney Brook School in New York, and he is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
“Prolific would be an apropos adjective for Lockerbie,” Dr. David Greenhalgh, dean of arts and sciences, said in his introduction of Lockerbie.
The title of Lockerbie’s lecture was “‘The Life We Image’: Avoiding Clichés about Christians and the Arts.”
When Lockerbie took the podium, the audience was greeted by a graying, scholarly fellow wearing glasses, a gray suit and a blue-and-gray striped tie. One may have expected to hear a lecture about string theory or the Peloponnesian War from him, rather than a lecture about art.
However, the audience quickly discovered that Lockerbie had very strong opinions about art and a Christian’s place in the arts, and that his knowledge of the arts was extensive.
Lockerbie’s lecture was a very polished work of art in itself. Every example, metaphor, phrase and word was carefully chosen.
The cliches Lockerbie spoke against were, “Art is all a matter of taste,” “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and “Art for art’s sake.”
One of the purposes of Lockerbie’s lecture was to address society’s “glorified elevation of trash as art.”
According to Lockerbie, the first two cliches carry with them an air of subjectivism, and the third cliche points to art with no meaning or purpose.
Lockerbie argued that judging art cannot be purely subjective. The test of time is one way to determine what is great art, but more important is the worldview the art presents.
“Truth determines the life we image,” Lockerbie said. “Truth is the highest criteria for art.”
Despite what those who live by the cliché of “Art for art’s sake” say, Lockerbie said that portraying the truth is also the purpose of art.
Lockerbie said that while all artists can portray some truth in their art, only Christians can portray the ultimate truth, that is, the truth of God’s love. Because of this fact, a Christian’s art is capable of something that a non-Christian’s is not.
“All humans can take part in the gift of art, but only the redeemed can offer one’s own art back to the Creator,” Lockerbie said.
“A Christian worldview is taken both from the foot of the cross and the door of the empty tomb,” he added. “Is there anything more beautiful in all the world than truth that brings us reason for hope?”
Lockerbie wrapped his lecture up with an application to Christians that echoed I Corinthians 10:31. He said, “Whatever you do, in work or play, in a group or alone, God wants your best effort.”