All art — all storytelling, picture-making, music — is an attempt to record and communicate the experience of being human. There are no words for this experience. Only metaphor and imagery and music will do. All peoples leave these traces of themselves. It’s their way of saying not just “We were here,” but “We were here — and this is what it was like.”
In the west, especially in that part of the west formerly known as Christendom, the project of art has taken on a special significance. That significance accounts for western art’s unparalleled greatness, for the fact that European productions between the Renaissance and World War I represent the pinnacle of human cultural achievement thus far. No other painting, literature or music has ever been more beautiful or more deep — more generally successful in doing what it is art does.
The special significance of western art — its special urgency — derives from the fact that westerners have a unique belief that the experience of being human, while by definition subjective, is nonetheless a reflection of an objective truth: moral truth. We believe that a human life can embody the ideas of God.
We believe this because our minds, our outlook, our culture were all formed under the pervasive influence of Christianity — the pervasive influence of Jesus Christ.