Saturday, September 8, 2007

ironing out the wrinkles

madeleine l'engle died. death is hard. it's not as if her death has affected me profoundly or anything. but i think she was a pretty neat woman. it strikes me in thinking about her that she is the prototype of what a christian artist should be. she was a tremendous artist. she was faithful to what she believed, and yet it did not translate into hackneyed artistic products.

the problem with contemporary christian art is just that, it is christian art. it is art created specifically for a subculture community. it does not aspire to greatness outside of that community. and i believe that because it does not aspire to that kind of greatness it does not glorify god in the way that true Christian art should. i realize that much of what i am saying depends on vast generalizations, and obviously it does not apply to all christians who do art. however, if we think of the greatest christian artists over the past century they were not artisits who created art striclty for the christian comunity but rather artistis who did work in the public eye.

it seems to me that the christian's first responsibility is to the glory of God. this is a profound responsibility and ought to translate into first rate work. many people have written about this, and much more profoundly than i could ever. dorothy sayers comes to mind in particular. one can find a challenging depiction of the responsibility of the christian artist in her book of essays, Letters to a Post Christian World. another work that i have not read, but that that i have read snippets from is Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky's Sculpting in Time. In it he says, "Art must transcend as well as observe; its role is tor bring spiritual vision to bear on reality."

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