Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Culture of Safety?

What was so delightful about the movie "Helvetica" I recommended this week is the boldness of the designers who were interviewed. "That typeset was boring and awful! It is only for the monotonous and dull person!" said one man. They were outspoken advocates for beauty. They had no problem saying something was beautiful and something else was ugly.
That's not the way we do things so much any more. In the words of Garrison Keillor "Every child is above average." and all dogs go to heaven. In our safe and tidy culture, we practice safe conversations, where we avoid the faux pax of saying something is wrong, ineffective or inefficient or poorly done. Why? Because it might hurt someone's feelings or offend some interest group.
So we practice safe conversation, safe music, safe education, safe food, safe advertising, safe architecture, and safe theology.
I'm not so bold as those designers are. I often edit my words carefully to the audience around me to avoid offending or creating unnecessary conflict. Is that wise pastoral behavior or safeness? What do we do about shoddy thinking and poor theology, especially when it is packaged in the lyrics of the music we sing?
Maybe those voices are out there in the emergent community, in the Doug Paggitts and Scot McKinights. It's time for some fresh breezes to blow through the windows of my mind and heart, more concerned with truth and beauty and less about safety.


At 7:40 PM , Blogger Stan Murphy said...

AAHH theres the word! In the last sentence! TRUTH
is the truth always right?
are lies always wrong?
someone who always tells the truth will most certainly be labeled inconsiderate, insensitive...well frankly...an asshole.

At 6:44 AM , Blogger Dan said...

I'm working (working being the opperative word) through "The Beauty of the Infinite" by David Bentley Hart and that phrase "truth and beauty" struck me in light of my reading so far.


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