You are not alone
Another reason I started this blog is to hopefully add a voice of hope. I never saw or lived the tension when I decided to work in the arts. Not until I was facing Christians who believed in either the incompatibility of pursuing a career as an artist and the Christian faith, or those who believed the only respectable service of art was for church services and evangelism. The biggest tension in my life came when facing Christians with very specific ideas about art in general and art in the Church. Plus, (as is most often the case) they were fully convinced of the scriptural basis for their position, therefor, everyone else was wrong and they were right. If this is where you are, this is for you.
In the late 1990s, for lots of reasons too many to mention here except for nostalgia’s sake, Christians were (once again? finally?) beginning to sincerely wrestle with the question of “Is there such a thing as a Christian artist?” and “What does it mean to be a Christian artist?”, at least more broadly and as a deeper existential conversation than as fans of Lewis, Tolkien, or van Gogh. I did not understand where these questions came from. I did not understand why my faith was being called into question because of it. This was simply my chosen career, just as any other career. Why is this an issue? I thought, I must be crazy. So, as my wife can attest, I did what I always do when faced with a challenge. I read. And thought. And prayed. And listened. And thought. And prayed. And read. And thought. And prayed. And listened…
Learn from the best!
I reintroduced myself to books by Francis Schaeffer. I actually started with (then) Frankie Schaeffer’s Fake Pearls for Real Swine. My wife and I mustered a weekend at L'Abri. I discovered Lewis’s other works, especially his essays. I remembered Jesus People USA’s publication, Cornerstone, often had art and articles on art. Glenn Kaiser had a blog where he often wrote on art (he still has one, two actually, and still worth reading.) Later, finding Makoto Fujimura and International Arts Movement was another breath of fresh air and much needed encouragement. You will no doubt find echoes from these wonderful minds and hearts in my writings.
And, of course, scripture. It is truly amazing how many times the Bible mentions music and also how we should play and sing (take note, usually “skillfully”). I learned I was not crazy and I was not alone with these questions. There is more to the story, but I will stop here for now to say I hope I can be that voice for others that those wonderful men and women of God I studied and encountered were for me.
Don’t be “That guy”!
If you, as an artist, take nothing else away from my website I hope it is that the artist is as responsible as your critics for learning what scripture has to say about art and being an artist. If you can’t take the time to study and pray about these matters, then you are in no position to expect any of your or art’s detractors to do so, either. Be a thinking artist.
Thanks for reading. Say hello! Please write me with your own thoughts. Also, please let me know if I have permission to publish your thoughts.