rebelling against low expectations

In Defense of Beauty: Why We Still Need the Creators

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All the things I had planned to write don’t make sense anymore.

I meant to talk about needing beauty in the midst of the cacophony of the world, full of the steady patter of cars and busyness and cement sidewalks—that chaos of busyness. But that’s gone now.

I meant to speak of the longing for a great Something, a something that took the discordant notes of the Monday commute and mundane conversation, the number-counting and the rhetoric-spouting, the grocery-store line and the student running behind, and somehow made them to all harmonize together—but those notes are silent now. Everything is. The quiet of fear.

But that doesn’t mean that the greater Something isn’t still here. That doesn’t mean we don’t still need something to reconcile all this together. So I do write, of why we still need beauty, and we still need creators, to remind us of that Something.

You’re needed in the cacophony, but you’re needed even more so in the silence.

We as humans weren’t made to be silent. We weren’t made to be still.

Art is an Act of Resistance

“But it’s so impractical!” some may cry. If art is sometimes dismissed as useless in normal life, how much more so in our current day? After all, what good can art do right now? It won’t find a cure to save the world. It won’t get us paid, or help with our grades. It won’t house our loved ones, nor keep them safe. There’s no physical, tangible reward from creating beauty, except maybe some happy brain chemicals—but you could get those just as easily by working out or eating cake. What good does any of this make?

I feel this question pound within my head, as my brush hovers paused over the watercolors, or my page lays blank beneath my pen. My art will not last through the centuries, nor be seen by many—it barely merits the level of a hobby. What is the use of it, if it won’t change anything? If it won’t make our current hurt end?

Resistance—that’s our answer. Holy defiance against the state we’re in.

Making beauty is our cry that we are still human. Dogs don’t make art, nor ants Hagia Sophia’s. But we do. It is what makes us human, our imago dei, the image of God in us reflecting him who painted the sunsets and daisies.

It is our defiance against a materialist world, proving that there is something more to us than flesh and molecules. We are not animals controlled merely by instincts and fear; neither are we robots determined by our genetics.

It is our cry that this disease will not destroy us; it will not be our end. There will be parties, and laughter, and full rooms once again. We do not quiver before what life throws at us, but instead face it and persevere to the end.

Making beauty is an act of defiance, fighting against the darkness and hopelessness, and against the reducing us to less than men.

Art Points Back To God

We as humans are made imago dei, in this image of God. That means we reflect him in some way, and as Christians we represent him in what we do. We are supposed to be his ambassadors, little examples of what he is like, and what he would do. And one of the very first things he ever did was to take the overwhelming darkness—and speak. Making beauty. Making good. (Genesis 1:3)

And God is still doing this. And he’ll do it through us if we let Him. When we create, we should point back to the One who created all things, who shaped and formed chaos, and called us to subdue and fill it ourselves. When we create, we are obeying the very first command God ever gave (Genesis 1:28). And when we make things that are still full of beauty, even in the midst of our broken world, we point to Jesus, the one who has come to make all things new again (Revelation 21:5).

Art also echoes God as it serves as an act of love. It is meant to be shared and enjoyed by others. Yet as the stereotype of the poor artist proves, it receives little in return. In making something good, simply for the sake of it, we echo our Lord. He has made all things, and sustains all things, keep the atoms together and the stars spinning and the gentle rain falling from the sky—and does it despite what little thanks we give him (Colossians 1:16-17). He does it because he is good (Matthew 5:44-45).

But beauty points back to God in a bigger way as well. It serves as a call to a world now stuck inside with its questions—there is something more to life. Something that holds it all together. Someone who is conducting it all. And there is hope that he—and only he—will make it right again.

Art knows that this world is not our home, and seeks to give us a peek into something bigger, where that hope and joy and longing we feel are finally fulfilled, fully revealed in a coming kingdom and king.

So don’t stop creating. Paint, write, play music and design homes. This call isn’t just for “the artists,” it’s for all of us. Take up that new hobby, or return to the one you lost long ago. Fill the silence, overwhelm the cacophony, and spread the news of our only true hope. Only Jesus can heal our world, and only he will restore all beauty again.

So make beauty, and in so doing, point back to him.


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About the author

Isabelle Ingalls

is an author, adventurer, and professional editor at 22, seeking to see the reminder and reflection of Christ’s glorious Gospel in all of life. A homeschool graduate, when she's not writing you can find her studying for her Biblical Studies and English degrees, working with children, singing and dancing around the house, or discussing theology with friends over hot chocolate. You can find more of her writing on singleness, adoption, Narnia, thunderstorms, stories, and Christian living at Seeing Everything Else. Interested in improving your writing? Reach out to her at Isabelle Ingalls, Editor.

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