We recently started reading a new book in class titled It Was Good Making Art to the Glory of God. This book is a compilation of essays that look into artmaking from a Christian perspective. The first essay comes from the book’s editor, Ned Bustard. This chapter, God is Good Like No Other, focused on goodness.
At the start of this chapter Bustard writes that artists making art to the glory of God must strive for goodness in their morality and it should also “permeate their artistic efforts” (17). Though we may strive for this, “good is not portrayed well due to a general misunderstanding of what the word really means” (21). Knowing this it is important to first attempt to define what is good.
Some of the definitions brought up by a simple Google search include the following: to be desired or approved of; possessing or displaying moral virtue; giving pleasure; and even “used in conjunction with the name of God or a related expression as an exclamation of extreme surprise or anger, ex: Good heavens!”
In our reading, Bustard identified the original words used in Genesis 1 that have now been translated to “good.” In the original text, the Hebrew word used was “ טוֹב” (ṭôḇ) meaning “that which is good, useful, and especially good morally.” The Greek translation used the word “kalos” meaning “aesthetically beautiful and morally good, pertains to that good which brings joy to God.” This is interesting because it shows that when we read “good” in this context it means both morally right and beautiful (19).
Learning these definitions of good brought to light my own “bounded awareness” in searching for goodness. One often associates the word “good” with words like nice or sweet, even though that isn’t necessarily accurate.
In an article from “On Being,” Courtney E. Martin writes that she doesn’t want to be “good” anymore and proposes that our actions be prompted by curiosity instead. She describes “good” as often being wrongly worn as a shield of immunity or a cape of specialness leading to bloated egos and deprived relationships. It’s a shame that these inaccurate representations of good can lead people away from it. I think that curiosity is a good first step, but we should still continue to step towards true goodness as revealed by God and not the skewed versions of goodness.
In following our curiosity of goodness, we must turn towards scripture. Bustard writes about this in the section “A Good Foundation.” From this section of the reading I found this quote really interesting:
When meditating on the attributes of God such as His goodness during the good work of giving, serving others, and sacrificial fasting, God is often generous in revealing aspects of His person. And when we focus on the person of Christ and His deity during prayer and worship, he helps us understand more adequately the attributes of God, including goodness.
I have recently discovered that one of my goals in my work is to serve others through helping them visually communicating their ideas. Despite this, I find that in my daily work flow I treat projects as just another task rather than a way of serving a client. I wonder why I have the mindset that spending time with God has to be “stepping away” from busyness. Why am I not integrating meditative time with God into every aspect of my life? What would it look like to bring together time spent in the presence of God’s goodness and designing as a service to others?
I hope that by approaching my design work as an act of worship and meditative time I will be able to step further into God’s goodness. If I want to live a life fully permeated by God then I must allow God to fully permeate my life and not continue to segment my life.
It Was Good Making Art to the Glory of God: revised and Expanded Version, Edited by Ned Bustard
There is No Honest Rest: All the Things I Would Rather Be Than Good, by Courtney E. Martin (http://www.onbeing.org/blog/there-is-no-honest-rest-all-the-things-i-would-rather-be-than-good/6983)
Good in Hebrew (http://hebrewword.org/Share-the-Hebrew-Word/good-in-hebrew/)