Cultural values

For Father’s Day in September my wife gave me tickets to take our daughters to The Sleeping Beauty by the Royal New Zealand Ballet. After a long wait, the weekend finally arrived to take them and amazingly we were also given tickets to the Saturday evening performance. So Heather went on Saturday evening with a friend, and I took the girls on Sunday afternoon.
I thoroughly enjoyed taking my daughters to the ballet and spoiling them with treats. It is wonderful going to an event at which everyone is dressed up and excited to watch a world class performance. The dancers were incredible and their costumes stunning, accompanied by the music of Tchaikovsky played by a live orchestra. The whole experience enveloped us, entrancing us in it’s magnificence.

There are times when I feel as though other nationalities or ethnic groups have rich cultural tradition but we don’t. Thinking over our ballet experience proves me wrong – we do have a rich cultural heritage and even get the benefit of a blending of European, Maori and Polynesian cultures in this nation.

However, culture takes effort. Performance requires practise, skill, discipline and training. It seems a lot to expend for a three hour public performance. Added to this, cultural groups rarely ‘pay their way’ – even with full houses orchestras, ballet troupes, theatres and other cultural or artistic groups require additional funding in order to survive. They are not a ‘practical’ necessity, so is culture a cost to society or an essential part of being human?

I would argue that the very nature of culture requiring work against the status quo proves its worth. We know that human nature is sinful, if you bow to the status quo and lowest common denominator what results is decline, banality, trivia and anarchy. Proof of our humanity lies in fighting such decline and going beyond what is merely a functional necessity of life to express art.

Art and culture will not save us, but they do prove that God has placed within humanity much more than animal desires and instinct. Art is a reaching for God, even when corrupted by sin the motivation to express, to create, is from God.

Gifts I have noticed recently (#691 – #700):

691) Art, making life more than making do.
692) Delight on girls faces.
693) A daughter wanting to imitate my Bible reading habits
694) Rekindled desire to play music.
695) End of my working day.
696) The wonder of a gull in flight.
697) Apples are cheaper than chocolate.
698) My wife, who I could not live without.
699) Daily, grace beyond anything I could ever deserve.
700) Guilt when I lazily take others for granted.

3 thoughts on “Cultural values

  1. “…Art and culture will not save us, but they do prove that God has placed within humanity much more than animal desires and instinct….”
    I agree with your intended meaning, but I would argue that ‘dance’ (physical movement and expression for the sheer joy of it) is very much a desire and an instinct enjoyed by many animals from deer to birds to dolphins to bees.
    On the other hand the economic system and laws on which society is currently based (and being destroyed by) are unique to humans. This destructiveness may not be human but that does not necessarily make it animalistic by default….perhaps it just makes it inhuman.
    I’m just arguing words and meanings here. Otherwise I agree: art (true art, such as ballet) reminds us what life is all about 🙂

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  2. What a rich post, Mike. So many wonderful thoughts and ideas here, about culture, and art, and living up to our potential as God created us…. I love that you took your children to the ballet! What a wonderful and special thing to do with them! Blessings, friend.

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    1. Hi Kris,It was a real blessing to be able to take the girls to such a enthralling performance. They loved it, well worth going just to see them entranced!

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