Musical Theodicy

Metaphysics of the Music, part 29

We’ve been considering Tolkien’s image of the Music of the Ainur as a powerful perspective on the problem of evil. In a discussion that could almost be a direct commentary on Tolkien’s Ainulindale, David Bentley Hart develops the metaphor of music as it answers the question of theodicy:

For Christian thought… true distance is given in an event, a motion, that is transcendent… it even makes space for the possibilities of discord, while also always providing, out of its analogical bounty, ways of return, of unwinding the coils of sin, of healing the wounds of violence (the Holy Spirit is a supremely inventive composer)… Within such an infinite, the Spirit’s power to redeem discordant lines is one not of higher resolution but of reorientation, a restoration of each line’s scope of harmonic openness to every other line. It is the promise of Christian faith that, eschatologically, the music of all creation will be restored not as a totality in which all the discords of evil necessarily participated, but as an accomplished harmony from which all such discords, along with their false profundities, have been exorcised by way of innumerable ‘tonal’ (or pneumatological) reconciliations. This is the sense in which theology should continue to speak of the world in terms of a harmonia mundi, musica mundana, or the song of creation.” Hart, Beauty of the Infinite, 280-1.