Why Aren’t More Christian Artists Producing Work that’s Excellent?   2 comments

Earlier today, a friend and I were talking about a new film coming out from Live 58:, an organization dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty during this generation.  The trailer for the film is excellent – well-made, enticing, and absolutely inspiring.   My friend said, “I really hope the film is excellent.”

Image by Kathy T. Hettinga

“I think it will be,” I said.  “The trailer looks great, and Jon Acuff recommended it.”   (I really love Jon Acuff’s humor and insight . . . especially his Stuff Christians Like posts, so his recommendation carries a lot of weight with me.  )

“Have you seen the NOOMA films?” my friend asked.  I told him I loved them, and he responded by saying, “I find them extremely powerful; they are SO well produced.  Finally, a product that Christians don’t have to be ashamed of.”

We then began to banter about the Christian bands that are, well, not so excellent. (I won’t name names, but you know what we mean – I know you do.)  Our conversation got me thinking about all the really mediocre art that Christians produce . . . let’s just face it, in many things we don’t excel.

Some of our music is really sad – repetitive, not inventive in score or lyrics, boring, trite, even.  Some of our books are simplistic, shallow, and, again, repetitive.  Our visual art can be kitschy and banal.

I don’t know why this is.  Of anyone, we are called to work the hardest to produce the most profound, inspiring, honest work out there . . . why don’t we?  Why do we settle for the easy and the simple and the shallow?  Why don’t we work until we get our art as close to perfect as we can?

Maybe it’s because we think we don’t have to – we are loved anyway, so why try?  Or maybe our Christian culture has dulled our edges, made us see things as only black/white, encouraged us to look over the complexities?  Maybe we think that being Christian means things have to be “pretty” or “good?”  But that’s not what art is – art isn’t always pretty, and it doesn’t always see the basic thing.  It sees reality and makes it something we can sit with, be taken up by . . . art is what God did when God made earth.

So the Live 58: Film . . . I hope it’s excellent, as excellent as the NOOMA videos are and as Jon Acuff’s writing is. . . I hope it’s as excellent as the writing of Flannery O’Connor and the art of Kathy Hettinga.  I hope it’s as excellent as that famous Mountain Sermon that still lives us all breathless and stupified . . . for we are the light of the world. . . . we should shine with excellent.

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Posted October 7, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Life Lessons, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Why Aren’t More Christian Artists Producing Work that’s Excellent?

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  1. I think it has much to do with the expectation of being “Christ-like” — but sadly Christians interpret this as not offending, not pushing boundaries, not ‘chasing the fear’ and being different and this all ends up making our art, music, and writing squishy and ‘white toast’ as my dad would say. This subject always makes me think of my favorite quote from the Narnia books — referring to Aslan, Mr. Beaver says “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” And I think that is exactly what Christian art (all forms) needs to be. Good….great even…but NOT safe.

    • That’s the second time I’ve heard that quote from Lewis, Erin, and it is one of my favorites, too. I don’t know where we ever learned that Christianity and God were “safe” and “white toast,” to quote your dad. . . . there’s nothing white toast about this life, and I love that. . . thanks for the reminder.

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