Literature should be unconsciously, rather than deliberately and defiantly Christian. –T.S. Eliot.
Perhaps this is a tired issue. But something tells me it’s not. Maybe it’s the discussions I see and hear on a weekly basis, or maybe it’s the emails I read everyday. Regardless of the where and how, the debate in popular Christian culture over the function and spiritual motive of artists is a tepid one. And it is as much a question of the medium as it is the message, the motive as much as the messenger. And what everyone seems to want to know is, “Is _____ a Christian _______?” (insert band name, author name, painter name, etc., and their appropriate medium accordingly).
This question has been posed for ages, and in no way am I qualified to give a complete answer. Nor do I desire to.
“Art Tends to show rather than tell.”
What I take this to mean is this: it is the power of the creative medium, in creativity and ambiguity itself, to ask questions, to evoke thought, rather than just give answers. It is my fervent opinion that the ultimate role of the artist in culture is to provoke a response in the audience, to cause the listener, the viewer, to wrestle with concpets of life, love, regret, salvation, and eternity so that the author himself fades into the background of the work itself, thus leaving the greater question with the mind of said audience.
The most powerfully Christian messages I have ever experienced in songs, poems, and writings, have been the ones that came not from explicitly Christian sources (who inherently present somewhat biased artifacts of worldview in most instances), but sources which to me seemed objective. After all, when I hear an artist otherwise considered “secular” speak of encountering the one and only true God, it is to me the greatest evidence of all that he is at work in all things, not just the limited scope of Christian subculture.
Can a christian musician write only christian songs? Can he not write about everyday life? Can he play characters in songs which might not reflect his own worldview in order to illustrate a greater point? Is there a such thing as a Christian artist? Is there a such thing as a Christian pilot, mortician, or cab driver? Is God not the God of all things, including the trivial, the mundane?
Consider not the messenger only, nor only the motive. The artist himself is only one part of the equation. Consider the medium as well as the message. Consider the fact that God speaks through the confused minds of unbelievers if he so chooses, along with believers. After all, he is the God of all things…
â€œIt should be remembered that art created to change minds often actually does more to bolster the spirit of those already in agreement than it does to convert opponents. The antiwar songs of the 1960s put into words the ideas of the young people opposed to American engagement in Vietnam, but had no reported impact on the policy makers inside the Pentagon.â€ –Steve Turner.
*Please note this entry has been edited