BR 3:04, Winter 1987
Only great art can be great religious art. But many of the religious masterpieces of the past remain inaccessible to us today because the style and content of these works of art are unfamiliar to our eyes and to our knowing. The iconography, that is, the imagery and symbols that were part of the visual language of earlier ages, is no longer part of our visual vocabulary. Then, too, the slow, attentive, expectant perusal of a painting demands of us a discipline of seeing that is contrary to our habits in everyday living.
We all look at the visible world in a selective way. The focus of our attention is determined by our past experience and present interests. The constant selecting of what will be seen and how it will be seen is a kind of editorial activity of the conscious mind, an activity that ceaselessly shapes our individual seeing of the exterior world.