Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Begin at the Beginning

In trying to find a balance between participating in pop culture and staying true to the call of God in our lives, it's helpful to refer to the start.

When God created the world, and its inhabitants, he used every bit of divine creativity he had. Whatever idea of the beginning of time you ascribe to, know that He who created it created you. And not just as another show off move he had up his sleeve. He could simply have kept on with the various derivations of monkey, giraffe and aardvark, but he went big with humans.

Really big.

For one thing, he created us last. I like to think of this as leaving room for dessert. He created us in his image and likeness. He created us to have authority over the earth. And he created us to be in relationship with him.

No other creature on Earth can boast those claims. But what does it mean to be created in his image and likeness? It means, according to my research, that humans are gifted with some characteristics of God, although we do not possess them perfectly, or use them flawlessly.

The character trait that pertains to a discussion on faith and art is creativity. Perceiving his world and responding by creating ourselves is one of the most natural things. Experiencing life and expressing our attitudes about it through music, writing, theater, painting or other media seems like just the reaction God, the Creator, would expect.

What do you think? Is creativity an aspect of the Creator? If so, how do you use yours?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Does Christian Art Exist

Our church has embarked on a study of Christians and pop culture. As you can probably guess, I have some strong opinions on this, and I'm sure some in our study group will have strongly held but disparate opinions about how people of faith participate in and consume popular culture. I look forward to lively debates about what music, TV, and movies mean to believers.

I'm interested in what defines "good" art, what kind of work represents God's glory, and if it can only do so if the artist intended it. I want to know what "Christian music," means and if it's important.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting about books I've read, music I've heard, movies I've seen that I think pinpoint what critically thinking believers can find about God in works created without that express intent.

In the meantime, what do you think? Is there such a thing as Christian art? What makes art good? How as Christians should we participate in the world around us? And if so, how?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bleak Saturday

I woke up worried. Worried about something that happened 2ooo years ago when I could do little about it. I woke up worried about the disciples.

Anyone who has ever buried a loved one knows the agony of loss. Those first few days are a blur of emotions and activities. Shock, anger, sadness, you name it. A veritable carousel of hurt.

So imagine the disciples. They had a few short years with a charismatic leader. They had been heralded and questioned. They'd seen miraculous healing and feeding and teaching. From the humble shores of Galilee they left everything and wandered around with this guy. And just days ago, they watched as Jerusalem erupted in praise to welcome this same guy into the city.

They watched, some ran, as their leader was arrested and marched to a dubious trial under shady leadership. They witnessed the whipping, the berating, the execution. And now? Now he was gone. Maybe some of his words began to itch at the back of their heads, beginning to make sense, words about going away, and coming back or something?

That bleak Saturday when nothing made sense and everything was gone, that was the beginning of their ministry. They didn't know it yet, but many of them would rise from their hurt to do amazing things, like start The Church, spread the news, even die, for what they'd seen.

But, on this Saturday, they were still on the carousel of hurt. Their hearts shattered, their leader gone. We can press Fast Forward and skip over the hollowness of that Saturday because we know the ending, we know what the women found on Sunday, we know the victory. They did not have that luxury.

So I woke up worried. Worried about their hearts. Thankful for access to the end of the story, but urged to remember that what makes Sunday's events more powerful is that empty trudge through loss.