Thursday, December 5, 2013

BOOKS! (Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts)

This is the other book I was able to read for leisure recently. When I was in the arts track at Compelling, one of the staff members used passages from this book to teach her lesson. I snagged the last copy at the conference bookstore at the end of that weekend.

Imagine: A Vision for Christian in the Arts by Steve Turner

This book is meant to encourage Christian artists not to confine themselves in regard to the art they do or how they receive others' art. In other words, Christians don't just have to create and appreciate what has been designated to be "Christian art". We need to lighten up! God is the creator and master of all things, which means he rules over art as well. He can work through various kinds of arts and artists, and that includes artists who are considered heathens, back-sliders, non-believers, or even atheists. Art doesn't always have to have a point, and when it does, it doesn't always have to become a sermon.

Truth is what matters most, and as Turner writes, truth doesn't just belong to believers. Of course, Christians have a duty to fortify their faith, continuously seek God, and not submit to worldly thinking. But this does not mean that they should shut themselves out from the world and the people in it. Christians also have a duty to harness their human creativity, create, and connect. Ultimately, the divine purpose of art is to communicate or tap into truth in a way that makes people reflect on human experience and think beyond themselves. Art helps people see things differently.

This book is a relatively short read, but offers a wealth of wisdom for Christian artists or supporters of the arts who struggle with the questions What is art supposed to be?Is God in all art? and How far is too far?

Favorite quotes:
"...we should look at works individually. Rather than asking, Is this artist saved? ask Is this piece of work technically excellent? Is it a valid expression of the artist's view of the world? Are form and content well integrated? Is truth communicated?" (p. 11)
"Some art is simply playful. It may be about nothing more than itself. It attempts neither to tell a story or to make a point.... To some Christians, this is a wasted opportunity, a sermon with no content, a Bible exposition with no substance. But playfulness is an important component of art and perfectly in keeping with a Christian understanding of creativity. Look at the animal kingdom. Can't we sense a spirit of playfulness in the designs?.... 'God,' Picasso once said, 'is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps trying other things'" (p. 53-54)

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