I can't believe it's almost been a full week since this happened, but last week my small group had a, er, lengthy discussion on arts and church and all kinds of great stuff. A great distinction was made : some art is escapist, some art is expository. (some is a willful distraction from this life, some is trying to say something about this life)
So specifically speaking Evangelicals traditionally believe that the primary purpose of the church (and christians individually) is to Evangelize the Lost. One of the reasons evangelicals prioritize evangelism is because they want everyone to know Jesus, and he gave the Great Commandment. The other reason is that at the end of Matthew, Jesus says that once the world knows Jesus, the world will end. Hang on this next part is a little tricky and a product of N.T. Wright. Most evangelicals belive in some version of Rapture, that is, at this end of the world, all the good christians will leave, and everyone that's left will be sent to hell. the most impactful part of that sentence as it relates to art is will leave. Many Evangelical Christians think they are bound for somewhere else: (songs like "this world is not my home," "I'll Fly Away" etc) Consequently, they hold the Earth and most of humanity (including human culture, and strangely enough, the evironment) as being less than Christian, and in varying degrees of worthlessness. This is why the adjective Christian becomes so important. Christian cookbooks are worthwhile, non-christian cookbooks are of the devil. Christian Pro Wrestling is acceptable entertainment, the WWE is a waste of time and money. Christian Financial Planning is good stewardship, Stock Brokers are greedy... etc.
The end of all this mess is that Evangelicals have by and large seen the products of humanity as inherently evil and beneath Christian dignity, and sought desperately to fill their needs (for society, belonging and entertainment) through their own "Christian" channels. Much of this pseudo-culture is meant to exist in a vacuum, and build a Christian ghetto that holds itself above the rest of society (in its own eyes).
All of this pseudo-culture is an Escape from "the world" inside this Christian ghetto there is no sin, no strife, no worry, no pain and no regret. Anything that says otherwise is "of the world."
Unfortunately, that's all a lie. Sin, strife, worry, pain and regret are part of the human experience, and there is not a single soul saved or condemned that doesn't know this to be true. We all lie to ourselves: I rationalize my sin, others rationalize their idolatry, etc. The fundamental human conflict is that of the ancient "chariot driver" where a persons rational mind attempts to control their passionate, selfish and ultimately animal desires.
Around the circle last thursday sat various people in varying relationships to the Christian Ghetto. Some struggle to see thoughtful art in works that portray nudity or violence. Others struggled with sometimes esoteric ways fallen artists manage to portray Biblical truths without recognizing it themselves. (Is all truth really God's? Some weren't so sure)
I'm somewhat to the left on all this, one of the most significant films in my life is Sideways, which a good friend described as DISGUSTING (because it contains sex, and full male nudity-but not of the protagonist, who I identify with) It's too bad that two scenes overshadow the entire work. What do I say to Christians from the bubble when they react so violently to art that moves me?
Skillful Productions Produces SoundCrawl
Hi There! We're Skillful Productions, a creative services company in Nashville.
Our specialties are Experience Design and Event Production, especially arts experiences. But along the way, we've picked up chops in a host of other fields as well. We're a comprehensive creative agency; we walk projects from inception to completion, and create in whichever mediums fit the project best.
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This has been a skillful production.