top of the flops: a problem with christian art
So I got thinking about this post’s content when someone I heard preaching used the recording of a song from a fairly popular Christian artist as an illustration.
The song was terrible.
I thought to myself; why is it that many Christians feel it necessary to listen to such abhorrent music simply because it expressly identifies itself as “Christian” or “worship” or some such thing?
I can’t answer from any perspective but my own. When I was a teenage Christian I was convinced that it was best to mainly listen to Christian music because it was somehow spiritually uplifting. These days I find it the exact opposite is more often the case.
This is not to say all Christian music is bad, though a lot of it is in my opinion. It too often suffers from one or more of the following; uncreative composition, tired chord progressions, cliched and unthoughtful lyrics, woeful theology, sterile production.
This might sound like an overly critical or mean-spirited rant (and maybe it is…), but this is not my intention. It would also be apt to ask the question – what have I got to offer that is better?
My answer to such a strawman question is that I don’t have to come up with anything better. It’s already been done.
We live in a world where so-called “secular” music artists constantly create beautiful, creative and inspiring works of art. While many such artists suffer from the same problems that exist in the Christian music scene, many do not, and these artists are probably most often not Christian.
In these works of art I often find myself most drawn to God. Not because the artist is required to be Christian to compose something spiritually uplifting, but because God is present in such beauty regardless of the author. In fact I have often found myself reflecting on the work of non-Christian artists and finding more beauty, holiness and godliness than anything I’ve ever heard in the Christian music scene.
I feel comfortable with this because of my high view of creation.
I take very seriously my belief that God created the world (how he did it is irrelevant). If God did indeed create the universe, then his signature is on the entire thing, most notably in his image found in every human being. Though such humans often do not acknowledge the Creator, they still bear his image…
… an image expressed in the creativity they display. This is evident in not only music, but also other artforms like film, dance, visual art, architecture etc. (in fact one of the most awe inspiring experiences I have ever had was exploring the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; these temples were built by Buddhists and Hindus).
It is no secret that this post is aimed specifically at Christians. I suppose I want to make a small contribution to the effort to liberate Christian creativity from being cheaply prostituted and uninspired drivel. I want to make clear that this is not the case for all Christian art, but sadly it is all too common (in my opinion, at least).
A major reason, I think, that the Christian arts scene is largely uninspiring is because it has largely been turned into a media marketing machine – the major contributors to influential creative arts are locked into producing regular projects for mass sale. If we can move to producing art for the sake of loving God and displaying his beauty then we might see more of the inspiring art that most often appears amongst those who do not profess to know God (and hopefully even surpass it – new creations, anyone?).
P.S. While I am aware that personal tastes, generation gaps and other factors play a part in how people feel about art, you can’t talk about everything in a post.