“I’m in it for Beauty” | A Conversation with David Dark
We all have what Dark calls “attention collections,” snippets of culture and experience that, to the extent that they represent love or devotion, signal the deeply religious impulse in us all.
With this and other concepts, Dark tries to find a common playing field of human culture and devotion that reclaims the term religious from those who misuse it. He writes:
I come to you as one bummed out by the way people talk about religion. . . . I feel a jolt of sympathy pain whenever someone characterizes someone else as religious. It’s as if a door just got slammed. A person has been somehow shrink-wrapped. . . . And in a subtle, hard-to-get-a-handle-on kind of way, it’s kind of like someone’s been told to shut up. [. . .]
I want very much to take this attitude aside and punch it lovingly in the stomach. I want good humor and candor and more truth between us than a label could ever afford. And if it’s the case that mention of religion mostly shuts conversation down, I want very badly to somehow crack it open again.
To crack it open, Dark talks explains how religion names “the shape our love takes,” and in this conversation we talk about growing up in a culturally engaged Christian household, his purposes for the book, how we can know the shape of our love, and the pleasure of amassing glimpses of beauty in our attention collections.
Dark is an author, cultural critic, and teacher. His books include Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons, and The Gospel According To America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea. He teaches at Belmont University and at the Tennessee Prison for Women.