Conservatives are funny people.
In reiterating the challenge, Paul L spots something Zen hasn't, "I was merely hoping that somebody might say something nice ... about something they enjoyed. That is the problem with conservatism; it is always opposed to everything."
NB: If the question really was a genuine one, and it's more important than the conservatives in the debate seem to realise, then I offer what I think is a pretty good stab at defining art in this post: Art: There's More to it Than Just Meets the Eye - Not PC.
UPDATE 1: It occurs to me that the argument neatly demonstrates what Objectivism calls the instrinsicist-subjectivist divide. What's art? Says, the conservative, "Whatever God says it is." Says the subjectivist, "Whatever we say it is." Exploding the dichotomy, the Objectivist points out that like everything else in existence art has a nature, and the nature of art is neither defined for us by God or by our feelings (nor by the feelings of a committee), but instead by the the nature of art, by the nature of human consciousness, and by the relationship between the two.
UPDATE 2: Great to see the debate engaged here in the comments section. Since I don't wish to interrupt the debate, rather than enter the fray myself may I again invite commenters simply to visit the links I've already offered, in which I point to what I think is the best definition of art so far, explain why definition is so important, and outline what gives art the power to move us so profoundly.
"Art is the technology of the soul." "Art is a shortcut to philosophy." "Art is the concretisation of metaphysics." "Truth is beauty, beauty is truth..." Clearly art is more than just decoration; something that has the power to effect us so profoundly can't be causeless (well, most of us -- Alan Gibbs excluded it seems).
It must be possible to provide an explanation for something that does this. What in the nature of art that give it this power? How does it effect us? That's what these links try to explain:
- Art: There's More to it Than Just Meets the Eye - Not PC
- Who needs great art? - Peter Cresswell, SOLOHQ
- Detecting value judgements in painting - Michael Newberry, 'Newberry Studio Updates'
- Objectivist aesthetics and the nature of art - Peter Saint-Andre, 'Monadnock Review'
- Don't Cry For Me, Aristotle - Peter Cresswell, SOLOHQ
- What is Architecture? - Peter Cresswell, SOLOHQ