Thursday, June 18, 2009

Talk Thursday // Jesus & Art?

I am a believer in Jesus.

I am also a lover of the arts.

For some, it is hard to find the proper way to balance the two. "Traditional Christianity" says that you can't cuss, you can't drink and you can't go out with girls who do (no wonder I'm single). But much of the arts - theatre, music, paintings, spoken word, life - try to depict the real world, not simply an ideal world. That world involves cussing, drinking, and real-life problems that can't be wrapped in a happy little bow at the final curtain.

I went to a conference on my birthday that was about how the Church should be inclusive of the artistic community not only because it's there but because it is who we are designed to be. The premise of the conference was that if God is an expressive, creative designer and He created us in His image, then humanity as His creation is therefore expressive and creative and given to those impulses as well. For so long the Church has been unwilling to understand the need for good artistic expression and has produced art that is not only not good, but also unreal and unreflective of the world we live in.

Tonight I'm going to go see RENT, the Broadway musical. The major themes of the play are love, suffering, joy, relationships, community, true identity. However, there are many Christians who have (and continue to) boycott this show (and others like it) because some of the characters are homosexual, some do drugs, and there is foul language.

The question today is how do you view art? If you're a believer, how do you balance Jesus and the arts? If you're not a believer, how do you feel about the Church's typical response toward the artistic community? How can we change it?

(This isn't part of the question, but I'm SOOOO excited because it's Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp in the show tonight! The end. =) )


Anonymous said...

I am le jealous!

Chris Ryan said...

Enjoy that wonderful show.

How do I balance it? I learned a long time ago that Broadway doesn't always make good theology. But where it does, I can amen it. Where it does not, I am challenged to think about what it is in this world that would lead them to draw those conclusions and how I respond to that piece of reality they seek to explain.

I agree that too often our arts have been badly done. It saddens me because there was a time where the religious art was the cream of the crop. I think that part of our capitulation to modernity involved a rejection of any teacher so subjective as art. I think we are beginning to escape from that. I hope that now we can flood the art world with works that not only convey reality but the hope of Christ and vision of His church within reality. No more escapism, no more false idealism. Just reality and Christ among it.

JD said...

"broadway doesn't always make good theology." neither do our churches.

more later when i have more time.

Chris Ryan said...

Very true, JD. Very true.

Jamie said...

I'm a late commenter on Talk Thursday, but had to throw in my 2 cents on this one.

God is the ultimate "creative". When I am nurturing, developing, appreciating that part of me, I feel his presence. It is an act of worship.

Lately I don't find it hard to balance Jesus & the arts. I think that partly it could be because I am loving & accepting people more now than I used to. When I see someone expressing themselves through art (any genre) then it seems to me like they are expressing that God-given design-whether they acknowledge it or not.

It pains me to see how some in the church frown upon the arts community. I am so blessed to be a part of a group of believers who value the arts, support artists & encourage others to do the same!!

I think a way to help change the "typical response" is to make art a part of worship, reach out to the arts community by participating in shows, benefits, conferences, etc, encourage artistic expression!

Here is a portion of an email from a man named Dan Rice who is an artist & part of a church plant in Bothell...I think he sums up my feelings perfectly.

"...When non-Christians see really remarkable art being done, displayed and explained by intelligent and passionate Christ-followers they get really curious, and dialogue opens up immediately. It is a very cool thing . . . at least it has been here in Seattle."

One last thing...."I wanna commit a crime, wanna be the cause of a fight..."