The Evangelical Aesthetic
September 30, 2015
As is often said, the Catholic aesthetic is visual and material; the Protestant aesthetic is verbal and aural. Even Catholic novelists — in a verbal medium — are basically imaginative (image-making) in their orientation. Tolkien is an obvious example.
Protestants do preaching; Catholics do cathedrals. Both proclaim the gospel. It is only the small-minded Protestant who cannot admit the deficiency in the Protestant aesthetic; it is only the small-minded Catholic who cannot admit the deficiency in the Catholic aesthetic. But the purpose of this post is to highlight the Protestant — or evangelical Protestant — aesthetic in word and song. I only have one example. It is sufficient: “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”
Vince Gill wrote the now-classic gospel song, “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” which he recorded with Patty Loveless. It’s a stunning song, beautiful in a crippling sort of way. Most songwriters would die happy if they had only written, “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” Even for Vince, one of the all-time greats, this is special.
Vince Gill and Patty Loveless performed the song at George Jones’ memorial service at the Opry, a couple years ago. If this is not heaven on earth, I don’t want to go to heaven:
Let the tears flow. George Jones is crying tears of joy in heaven.
A Protestant could have never written The End of the Affair, but a Catholic could have never written “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”
This is why Catholics and Protestants need each other.
Image: Vince Gill and his father, Jay Stanley Gill, an administrative law judge and country music enthusiast who gave Vince his first guitar lessons. (source)