The Rustic Aesthetic on The Curator



There is this really amazing web magazine called The Curator, a publication of International Arts MovementIt’s devoted to thinking through the intersection of art and faith. And I am all about intersections. It’s practically the only way to be original anymore.

Anyway, they published a piece of mine called “Anxiety and the Rustic Aesthetic.” Everything I write, I try to write out of personal experience. Dating. Cynicism. Self-hatred. Anxiety, of course, is a universal human condition. But that’s not what’s personal to me about this piece.

“Home” is a shifting concept for me, which makes “nostalgia” rare, but so satisfying when it sets on. I have walked through barn houses, mainstream rustic furniture stores, other people’s homes, all selling a feeling of “home” – really, there is an industry devoted to selling nostalgia. Like a scented candle, a home with a rustic aesthetic already feels like home. It feels secure. And I have walked through these places, these houses of “home” industry, with people in the past, thinking we would get married, shopping for a “home” feeling. We were shopping for nostalgia. Present and future nostalgia, digging through the past for a meaningful future.

And so, I was at a place where Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel elicited heartache. “What a shame.” The rustic aesthetic is so moving and beautiful. There shouldn’t be barriers to enjoying it. So I wrote a theology of it. And I found that the rustic aesthetic is an ancient tool of hope – it is a horizontal lifeline for humanity to hold as they move from past to present to future. It is a vertical lifeline for humanity to remember that the God of yesterday, and of Jesus’s yesterday, and of David’s yesterday, and of Adam’s yesterday, is the God of tomorrow, and of my seventy-year-old self’s tomorrow, and of Jesus’s tomorrow. And he is beautiful. And he is home.

Philosopher Christina Gschwandtner has written, “Great artists see what no one else has seen and thus add to the realm of phenomenality by introducing new phenomena within it and making them visible to us” (Postmodern Apologetics?, 32). This rustic aesthetic may be the closest modern phenomenality that we have to the ancient temple in Jerusalem. Surely it is also the church. But aesthetically, an urbanized log cabin, or para-urban farmhouse perform a unique task of ushering us into the experience of our Hebrew forefathers more than a worship-plex, or even a cathedral. Whatever, just a thought.

I hope that this article will help you savor home, and appreciate nostalgia a bit more, or perhaps a bit more meaningfully as a (small “s”) sacramental gift from God to enjoy him. Again, read it here.

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