Does Art Redeem Religion?

Tracy_quan_140x140 I’ve never understood why if you respect, love, or admire X, you have to respect, love, or admire the conditions of its origin, or more narrowly, what inspired its creation.  My appreciation of Kipling does not commit me to an appreciation of British colonialism, for example. Tracy Quan makes this strange argument with respect to religion over at Comment is Free:

If you champion the splendors and benefits of Western culture, while claiming to oppose religion entirely, you are, metaphorically speaking, tone deaf.

Whether your preference is Bach, Britten, Palestrina, Kanye West or Earth, Wind and Fire, you’ll find some aspect of Christianity in the details.  But reggae – such as The Melodians doing Rivers of Babylon, based on a psalm of the exiled Jews – can’t easily be separated from religion, either. Run from religion, if you must, but you can’t hide from song, sculpture, poetry, architecture, painting, tourism or food.

Given that the influence of religion over the centuries has made them what they are, I can’t help seeing something crude in the impulse for some to bash it. As a “cafeteria” atheist and secular Catholic, I don’t share that impulse. Religion has given us some rather fabulous architecture, a lot of excellent paintings, a variety of head coverings – from yarmulkes through wimples, veils and turbans – which I , for one, find fascinating.