Monday, August 14, 2006

Christians Doing the Arts: Involvement

Yesterday I began a series about Christian "doing" the arts. I proposed the very basic idea that Christians should do the arts. Not exactly a revolutionary idea. But there's a great deal to unearth underneath this idea. Most all of us believe that we should do the arts--but what does that mean? In the next week, I want to offer my own vision for Christians doing the arts. It is my hope that this sparks a good deal of thought in the strange little corner of the world that Christians occupy.

The first matter I would tackle in this offering of random thoughts about Christians doing the arts is this: Christians should be involved in the world's arts. This is simple. But it is quite a statement. Not in an impressive sense, in a magnitudal sense. Many of the Christian stripe would disagree with it. Many would say that Christians are called to engage in a process in which they absolutely and unequivocally separate from the world and its content, much like a woman anxiously scrubs a garment to rid it of every foul spot. There is good in this viewpoint. We need to be separate from the world, especially in areas where we are vulnerable. We need to flee from sin, especially where are susceptible to it. We need to strive for holiness with great exertion, taking care to take care in artistic areas where we are spiritually weak. With all this said, we are not called to separate in totality from the world. We are called to obey the government and salt the culture and love the lost (Romans 13, Matthew 5, John 3). We are called to appreciate beauty and truth wherever it is found. We are called to be here, to minister, to come alongside those around us, to understand them, to engage with their worldview (Acts 17). In order to do these things, we need to know our world, to understand it, to evaluate it, to know not simply what it thinks, but why it thinks what it does. We don't simply scream out biblical truth; we engage people in sensitive, thoughtful conversation that leads to gospel-telling. All this means that we should be involved in our world.

So when it comes to the arts, we should be involved. We should target our passions and favorites (rap is mine when it comes to music) and study and interact carefully with that genre. We should know what is good and bad about it. We should appreciate the good and reject the bad. We should then talk with people around us who have similar interests, and use our own interest as an evangelistic bridge. Our interest and involvement in the arts is not, after all, secular--we are working for the redemption of all things in Christ. So we are purposeful in our involvement.

But we are also involved in the arts because we do like them and we want to find beauty in them and we want to exalt truth where it is found. In addition, we want to make beauty. We want to speak truth. We want to do the arts. We will do the arts well--or at least give ourselves a shot--when we understand them. We are snobbish and foolish when we pretend that only Christians make music. When we make music of a certain type, we enter into a larger conversation. It is very helpful if we do not simply barge into that conversation, but if we enter into it respectfully, thoughtfully, and with knowledge and (where possible) appreciation of those around us. This is a sensitive and wise way to begin interacting with the arts, I think. Perhaps our strange little corner will spread a bit more with such engagement. We should pray so.


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