David Lyle Jeffrey

Beauty in an Ugly Time

Rouault and Chagall.

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To which he answers: "Ah, but in such an ugly time the true protest is beauty."

Pleasures of the Harbor may be one of the most beautiful albums of all the Vietnam era—hauntingly so; its final cut, "Crucifixion," is strikingly reminiscent of both Chagall and Rouault.

Ochs' "true protest" seems to me to be the protest that a great artist best can make, for whom the choice for life and joy is the very essence of artistic affirmation. What Rouault and Chagall, each in his own way, tell us, is that such a choice is grounded in an order of hope far more theological than political, and that when expressed in art, beautifully wrought by a master, it opens us up to the deepest comfort and most nourishing spiritual meditation.

David Lyle Jeffrey is Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities at Baylor University and, since 1996, Guest Professor of Peking University. His volume on Luke in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible was published earlier this year.

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