What culture does the church come from?

The heavenly art. Music in culture and church

Art that relates to art: In the "Mathäus-Passion" choreographed by John Neumeier for the Hamburg Ballet, Bach's masterpiece is also brought to life on a visual level. (Photo: Kiran West / Hamburg Ballet)

Work against death - it is only possible when life opposes death. This resistance to death becomes sensible in people's lives: wherever structures of meaning are expressed that have their own weight compared to their natural basis and their life-serving application. The sensible procedure in business and technology, law and state, science and education, it does not work in its functions of life support. In contrast to these large areas of culture, art is the creation of sensual meaning without a purpose. It is precisely in this that the impetus of life-sustaining culture comes to itself.

That means: not quite, because the architecture forms the transition. In building it becomes apparent that what offers people protection from cold and heat, sun and rain, is at the same time a medium of expression, certainly functional, but also goes beyond the immediate purpose. The surplus of art becomes clear in architecture in particular: buildings can be upgraded from functional to representational buildings.

The movement of art is mapped out with this consideration of the surplus. It gains its epitome as a sensual expression of the meaningful, which underlies all culture. The arts absorb space and time as media of the sensual in their own way. Sculpture and painting make use of the vividness of space; they live from the established juxtaposition, which they condense into the work, in order to then leave it to the gaze of contemplation, which inevitably has a temporal dimension inherent in it. The music moves in the medium of temporal sound, it forms successive sequences into a whole, which needs to extend in the course in order to be perceived as one through the sound heard. Poetry and drama take up words and gestures, facial expressions and movements of people, they react reflexively to the interactions in language and action, let the viewer participate in exemplary scenes that are stimulating and exciting, calming and cleansing.

How strongly the arts, each in their own way, relate to their media space, time and communication, can be felt in their increases in modernity, when art relates to art, so that music over music, pictures over pictures, poetry become possible through poetry. Certainly the invention of the opera is also due to the modern age - drama and music at the same time! - this need for cultural enhancement.

And the religion? On the one hand, it stands alongside the arts, as creating meaning without a purpose. On the other hand, it breaks the obligation of space, time and communication, it becomes, analogous to modern art, to create meaning through the creation of meaning. Religion is not about facts that concern the preservation of natural life as in economics, law and science, nor about the sensuality of meaning as in fine art and music, but about the origin of the symbol itself, i.e. the ability of people for the cultural preservation of their life in general. Religion is more abstract and more concrete at the same time. On the one hand, it belongs to culture because it, too, is inconceivable without people's lives, which are geared towards its continuation; and, on the other hand, it also brings up the ultimate horizon of culture, which is the first to make this life possible.

The fact that religion has to do with “transcendence” does not fall back on otherworldly facts (which do not exist as such), but on the structures that make life in the world possible in such a way that it is able to articulate itself against death. This ability to resist does not come from the natural world. Yes, no “world” can be specified that could be considered the basis of religion. That is why religion rightly speaks of God. But by God in such a way that he wants and sustains the life of people in the world - and saves them beyond the world. The divine origin of human symbolism is the epitome of human work against death, is the emblem of culture.