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Is there a link between Faith and fine writing?

  1. May 23, 2010 #1
    Is there a link between Faith and fine writing?

    I'm an agnostic, and I find it difficult to believe that there's a link.

    However, the following article claims that there's one:

    The quality of English writing has declined, a new book claims, in tandem with a decline in widespread public belief in Christianity.

    Read more ....
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2010 #2

    mgb_phys

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    and with the decline in cholera,
    Or the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels
    Or the increase in education
    Or the ....
     
  4. May 23, 2010 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    graph_pirates_gw.png

    The recent increase in pirate activity might suggest that global temperatures should start to decline. :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  5. May 24, 2010 #4
    LOL love the replies to which I have to mostly agree. But to this author's defense, it is hard to separate the cultural impact of the Christian faith from civil advancement since it was such an integral part of everything from politics to art. What I believe the author to be saying is that the Christian faith attempt to focus the human experience from a very personal but outward looking vantage point while keeping it's host concentrated on discovering the meaning from that view.

    His references to St. Augustine and others using all that is good and or beautiful to that end clearly indicates that is would be a directive of this large culture to focus their energies upon building a beautiful culture, and that the beauty previously existed independent of their faith. Now whether or not this use of beauty and art is a directive of the Christian God is quite another matter all together. So if one does draw the correlation that there is a decline of artful literature with the Christian faith they might well be also concluding that the decline is merely the shift in Christian culture and might just as well be resumed by another "faith" be it agnosticism or something else.
     
  6. May 24, 2010 #5

    mgb_phys

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    In that case the correlation in the English speaking world (and what other written culture counts?) would be that Protestantism created fine writing.

    Before reformation = Chaucer, rude stories and terrible spelling

    After reformation = Shakespeare, restoration comedies, romantic poets, victorian novels and finally reaching it's culmination in Jefferey Archer and Dan Brown.
     
  7. May 24, 2010 #6
    Created might be a stretch but I'd be willing argue that it was a catalyst.

    As I said though, it is hard to prove that another religion or culture could not have produced the same if given the cultural dominion, inspiration and principles of civil humanity. I mean to argue that the Christian faith is the reason for the advancement in literature is to nearly defend that the works were divinely inspired... and seriously doubt any one will attempt to say that.
     
  8. May 24, 2010 #7

    DaveC426913

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    I wonder how they define "quality" of writing.

    The fulfillment of Christian mores perhaps?
     
  9. May 24, 2010 #8

    DavidSnider

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    Not the Christian faith per-se, but faith in general. An argument you'll see from them is often "Where is the secular version of The Sistine Chapel?". I think they have a point here. It just may be that rationalism can't put you into the right mindset to create transcendent works of art.

    Does anybody here disagree that devotional art tends to be some of the best?
     
  10. May 24, 2010 #9

    mgb_phys

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    Where's the heterosexual version of the sistine chapel ?
    If Michaelangelo wasn't gay it would have been whitewash ceiling and wood veneer.
     
  11. May 24, 2010 #10

    DavidSnider

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    I get the gays-are-good-at-decorating joke, but I'm not sure if you were trying to make another point with this?
     
  12. May 24, 2010 #11

    DaveC426913

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    I think his point is "faulty assumption of cause and effect".

    Is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel because he is devout? If he were not devout, he would not still be talented?
     
  13. May 24, 2010 #12

    DavidSnider

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    That's pretty much the root of their question. Can we produce a secular example of Michelangelo or Bach? It may very well be that the reason they were so talented was because they were so devout.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  14. May 24, 2010 #13

    mgb_phys

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    The sistene chapel wasn't because anyone was devout it was because there were enough rich oligarchs to pay for art and so a school of talented artists appeared to take advantage of them.
    At the time the way to become a rich oligarch was to rise in the church, later it was to become an emperor (hence Mozart worked for a politician) then it was to be an industrialist.
     
  15. May 24, 2010 #14

    DavidSnider

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    All you are explaining is how it was paid for, not the motivation behind it. Do you think Bach was not a devout man?
     
  16. May 24, 2010 #15

    mgb_phys

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    Bach mostly worked for the city of Leipzig
    I don't think that his music was necessarily a direct result of local politics.
     
  17. May 24, 2010 #16

    DavidSnider

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    Yeah, nevermind what Bach said his motivations were, you know better.
     
  18. May 24, 2010 #17

    marcus

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    The author struck me as silly, but there is a fairly obvious connection between the way religion is practiced and people's sense of prose style.

    If you want to develop a heightened appreciation of good writing (or encourage it in your children) then you should develop a heightened appreciation of speech, the spoken word.

    Learn to recite. Learn by heart. All love of language comes down from oral traditions.

    Your author is in the UK, so his primary focus is UK writing and the Anglican church. The KJ Bible and the Church of England Book of Common Prayer are two sources of great passages of speech. Speech for the living voice.
    The memorable spoken word is ultimately the only test of fine writing.

    Schoolkids used to learn to recite the Gettysburg Address by heart, and the Village Blacksmith. And then in sunday school they would learn to say the Lord's Prayer.
    And maybe the words of an Isaac Watts hymn, learned by heart so they could sing with the congregation without having to look in the book.

    The images and cadences of great language, learned by heart, go deep into the speech centers of the brain. There will only be "fine writing" by the writers if there is an audience of people who love the excellence of the spoken word.

    Reading out loud to your kids does a certain amount. Like reading Jane Austen novels.

    Anyway irrational religious beliefs, like God and Heaven, have very little to do with sustaining the public's ear for prose style, or love of poetry. What matters IMHO is being part of a live speech tradition, individual by individual.
    (And probably at one time the Anglican church service, which involved the congregation's singing and reciting extensively, helped keep an active vocal tradition going in the UK.)
     
  19. May 25, 2010 #18
    Gee whiz Marcus, I really don't care if someone believes in God or not. I wouldn't be rude by attacking a religious or non-religious person. I do like the poet Bob Dylan!:smile: And there isn't a song of his I don't like including this one.

    God Knows
    God knows you ain’t pretty
    God knows it’s true
    God knows there ain’t anybody
    Ever gonna take the place of you

    God knows it’s a struggle
    God knows it’s a crime
    God knows there’s gonna be no more water
    But fire next time

    God don’t call it treason
    God don’t call it wrong
    It was supposed to last a season
    But it’s been so strong for so long

    God knows it’s fragile
    God knows everything
    God knows it could snap apart right now
    Just like putting scissors to a string

    God knows it’s terrifying
    God sees it all unfold
    There’s a million reasons for you to be crying
    You been so bold and so cold

    God knows that when you see it
    God knows you’ve got to weep
    God knows the secrets of your heart
    He’ll tell them to you when you’re asleep

    God knows there’s a river
    God knows how to make it flow
    God knows you ain’t gonna be taking
    Nothing with you when you go

    God knows there’s a purpose
    God knows there’s a chance
    God knows you can rise above the darkest hour
    Of any circumstance

    God knows there’s a heaven
    God knows it’s out of sight
    God knows we can get all the way from here to there
    Even if we’ve got to walk a million miles by candlelight

    http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/god-knows

    Hope there isn't anyone out there who hates Bob Dylan or thinks his music was junk.
     
  20. May 25, 2010 #19
    Well, it isn't lack of God, directly. It's culture change. Which, incidentally enough, happens to be why Christianity doesn't have as hard a grip on people. :tongue:
     
  21. May 27, 2010 #20
    Unfortunately for your joke, Michelangelo wasn't gay.
     
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