Monday Morning Not-Surrealism

There will be no Surrealist art at The Word Warrior in the month of December. Only artwork that is surrealistic.For the month of December, I will be hosting works that celebrate my favorite trope of Surrealism-proper; believable visual representation of impossible objects or spaces. At its best, this trope can define the very limits of our perceptions and powers of comprehension. In identifying the impossible, we grasp at what is possible, which is to say, all that is real.

William Blake, "Newton," 1795

The great artworks inspired by Christianity are often alluded to by apologists or rhetorically savvy nonbelievers looking to concede a small but sincere point. The two most commonly referenced masterworks are the Sistine Chapel, or at least the paintings, and Handel’s Messiah.

As powerful, world-justifying works as those accomplishments are, they are not the Christian artworks that most impress me, Bento, personally.  Those would be (in chronological order) the metaphysical writings of Bishop Berkeley; William Blake’s paintings; the speculative dialogues of Dostoyevsky’s novels; and Philip K. Dick’s VALIS trilogy.

“Newton” specifically I dislike. It is small next to Blake’s other work, and its anti-rationalist, anti-science, anti-mechanist subtext repulses me. I put it up because it is the most surrealistic of Blake’s paintings by crafting an impossible scene without invervention by a supernatural being. My favorite Blakean paintings I save for a later date.

I’m curious: What Christianity-inspired works of art, literature, and/or philosophy are your favorites?

I mean works inspired by Christianity by believing Christians. My own list above would have included some stories of Borges, a novel by Flaubert, a poem by Goethe, and some of Hobbes’ treatises if I were to include reflections on the faith by nonbelievers (or ambiguous cases, like Hobbes).

I’m not sure if I’m more eager to hear from Christians or non-Christians.


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