Is There a Way to Do Ugliness Well?
The question is a difficult one to grab ahold of in totality, simply because there is no book of rules that says what one may and may not artistically do. That said, there is great benefit in ripping away the false perfection of this world and showing people the biblical reality of our planet. We are ugly to our core, and the world represents this. Though we try to paint everything in pastels, underneath it all is a coat of mud. This is not a fundamentally good and happy place; it is earthy, and ugly, and stinky. It includes mothers who toss their children into harbors, doctors who kill those dependent on their care, fathers who pay to have the brains of their seed vacuumed out. Who are we kidding? This is a wretched place.
To teach the world this, it seems that we may with discernment portray our collective condition as it truly is in films. Christians may thus write scripts and books and poems that speak to the great illness of our planet. We may show the effects of sin, exposing them to eyes that seek only escapism and pleasure. There is great good in performances and plays and poems that include characters and dialogue that explores the depths of depravity and that use ugliness to do so. Christians must be careful in doing so--but they must do so. Who else will, at least from a standpoint that also includes the hope of redemption and the reality of God?
We cannot shrink back from this culture. We must engage it. We must know it. We must be separate from it. We must accurately portray it. And we must speak grace to it. It will be very difficult to do this last part, one that so many Christians thankfully believe in, if we do not do the first, which so many Christians do not believe in. May God bring new insight, discernment, and passion to engage our world to His people.