Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Heart of Art

What does it look like to be a Christian artist - or indeed a Christian in any sphere of life?

We have to wrestle with this. I have to wrestle with this because I just got asked to do a seminar on it at Forum 2007 - specifically on the issue of how to glorify God on your course when you'd rather be doing evangelism...
"Thinking Christianly about my course when
I would rather do just CU stuff!"


Julian Hardyman has written well on it in his book Glory Days, and UCCF's Interface Arts have been doing some great work too.

See also this new resource at The Gaius Project : The Heart of Art - Jason Harris
HT: Bob Kauflin

15 comments:

  1. I confess... I was jealous of that seminar subject when I saw it on the form :o

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  2. If I'd had the opportunity to choose which one to to i would have picked this one.

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  3. Contrast Carl Trueman saying "Is there really a way of doing Christian Street-sweeping?" (beyond generic applications for all kinds of work). Should they sweep using cross-shaped brushstrokes?

    Hmm. I guess some areas have more dangers and more opportunities to stand or fall for Jesus. Do you know Ally Gordon has a blog called "Give Quiche a Chance". Some good stuff there.

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  4. I agree we have to be aware that the question risks being a very middle class christian question - and that on one level the answer is very much just work humbly and submit to those over you.

    That said, it's hard to dismiss the creation commands to subdue the earth... I'm keen to read a lot about this this summer beyond a re-read of Hardyman. So, recommendations very welcome.

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  5. Dave,

    1. "Sacred/Secular divide" influences
    (a) Perspective of the value of non-evangelistic work
    (b) Ability to relate the Christians key passions and desires to the world of work and art. Compartmentalisation.

    2. "Me-Now Culture" influences
    (a) Our perspective of the value of the non-immediate arts and skills.
    (b) Ability to form an integrated world and life view.

    3. "Christian Culture" can sometimes be a little bit perfectionistic and competetive. "What will people think of me if I don't do more evangelism?"

    4. Sometimes people are fearful, lazy, and apathetic.

    5. Poor intellectual development causes a creative and critical black hole. Nothing comes out, it seems to suck a lot in!

    6. Artistic temprament doesn't seem to flourish under more conservative theological views. I don't know why, but there doesn't seem to be as much of it as, say somewhere like Greenbelt.

    7. Overemphasis on the sin management nature of the gospel, impoverishes proper teaching on creation and the new life of the resurrection. Richard Cunningham once said that getting a good view of creation was essential to his wife finding meaning and value in her art.

    8. I think that there is a book on Creation by Jerram Barrs that is just excellent. I can't quite remember its name.

    T

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  6. Martin Luther was once asked what he would do this day, if he know Jesus would return the next day. Luther responded, "I would plant a tree."

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  7. And Schaeffer says some wise things in Vol 5 - I think there are a couple of longish essays, including one on Art, Literature, Music and Films.

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  8. Great seminar topic. It would be really good if there could be some kind of resource or course on thinking Christianly to help students apply the Gospel in all their life, especially to their studies. It would have been really handy when I was running my CU's Christians in Humanities group - I managed to cobble together a few sessions, taking bits from various books such as Schaeffer and stuff, and throwing in a few extra discussion questions.

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  9. Agreed. I think we have a pressing need for this. I speak with too many students who ask the question this seminar poses, and who genuinely seem to think that evangelism is all that matters. On the one hand I'm delighted that people think evangelism is important. Cos it is. But, it's not good when people have little grasp of how to study Christianly or work Christianly - whether in work ethic or in seeing the tangible lasting value of the work itself.

    I'm glad to see the Gaius Project and I think with InterfaceArts and others we're making some progress but we have alot of ground to make up.

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  10. Love the Luther quote.

    I've read too little on this subject, and I was thinking what I had read apart from Glory Days which talks about the work at any length. The only thing I could think of (apart from the overrated 'Thank God it's monday') was some stuff by Tom Wright. I can't find the stuff that I particularly remember (I think it was audio) but I found these articles about the art's specifically:

    The Bible and Christian Imagination or better: They Sing a New Song - a sermon on Exodus 15; Psalm 98; Revelation 5; John 20!

    I suppose NTW comes to mind because the Arts is all about (new) creation and that is the thing NTW is the strongest on. It's a different perspective for you anyway.

    Hope the seminar goes well.

    Ooo one thing I would love to see addressed is the common comment that there are front line evangelists, and then the rest are involved in the supporting of that by earning as much as possible, and then giving away to mission as much of that as possible. There is a lot of truth in that (clearly Paul thought of his churches role in mission as primarily one of financier). This type of statement has profoundly effected my 'life choices', but it would be interesting to see it tied into a proper framework including work as a good given way to reflect God the creator.

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  11. Ant Adams suggests Krish Kandiah's Twenty Four...

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  12. The work as funding evangelists is something Vaughan Roberts says in God's Big Design isn't it. Not convinced.

    I mean it's true that no-one else is going to pay... but its hard to see that that can be the sum worth of work. And scripture seems to say more.

    Likewise work has to be worth more than the opportunities it gives people to spend time with those who aren't Christians. Valuable as that surely is.

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  13. Obviously this discussion has moved to your new post on the issue but I thought I'd 2 more things here.

    1. I said cearly Paul thought of his churches role in mission as primarily one of financier. I've been thinking about this further and I would now say first prayer, and second financial, support.

    2. It wasn't Vaughan Roberts that really stuck the idea in my mind. It was (now UCCF's very own) Jim Walford in a typically intense conversation in my 3rd year at uni.

    Ahh well, as usual you appreciating your posting. I'll digest the other post now.

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  14. A couple of recommendations...

    "The Christian Imagination", edited by Leland Ryken, is a good anthology of various writing about art, particularly literature, and Christianity.

    L'Abri have lots of good talks on Christianity and art. The tape catalogue is on their website: http://www.englishlabri.org/

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  15. Al Mohler gave a good talk on beauty here last year, which certainly has many applications to art
    http://resources.christianity.com/details/hbct/20051114/658bdd78-c7fb-45cc-98d0-67fd1948ea17.aspx

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