Those committed to a spiritual life understand what popular culture hasn’t yet learned (or is afraid to admit)—namely that the hunger of the soul cannot be satiated with sugary sweets and shallow entertainments. Somewhere along the way, many people got the idea that the religious sphere and artistic sphere are at odds with each other. I believe the opposite is true. Both the arts and spiritual discernment broaden our perspectives and enrich our lives, and in very similar ways.
This was the single greatest lesson I learned from my years studying philosophy at Oxford—namely that the pervasive empiricism of modern life, which only accepts what it sees and quantifies, is ultimately a brutish philosophy. The most important things in life cannot be seen with the eyes or measured with charts and numbers. They are love, trust, faith, friendship, forgiveness, charity, hope, the soul, and the creative impulse. You cannot live as a human without these, although you can’t even prove scientifically that any one of them actually exists. They are metaphysical (a word used as an insult by my philosophy teachers, but their scorn was mistaken, in my opinion). To embrace these crucial aspects of our life, we must turn to art and religion. This hasn’t changed in the last two thousand years. Nor will it change in the next two thousand years.