Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Christians and the Arts

In his 1986 classic, Culture in Christian Perspective: A Door to Understading & Enjoying the Arts, Leland Ryken wrote

If Christians are to be a force in shaping the contours of their society and evangelizing people in it, they will have to come to grips with the culture in which they inevitably live and move and have their being. They will have to know where to draw the line between becoming assimilated into a secular culture, lest they lose the quality of being separate that the Bible attributes to true believers (Ryken, Leland 21).
One place we have to "come to grips" is the arts and entertainment arena. Far too much "Christian art" (most of which is sold in the local Christian bookstore – I mean kitsch and knickknack store ["kitsch: sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts” and "knickknack: curio, peculiarity, oddity"] is far from artistic.

Far too much "Christian art" is heavy-handed, literal, and syrupy-sweet. . . unlike real life, which is ofen subtle, figurative, and harsh (at least at times).

What the church needs is a reformation of its understanding of the arts - the purpose of the arts, their place in the Christian's life (and the life of the church), and a better understanding of what makes art good art.

One place where the arts and entertainment industries are being restored/redeemed is in Los Angeles. (Hard to believe! Isn't that home to the Hollywood elite and all those evil secular humanists ;~)?)

Arts & Entertainment Ministries (AEM) is a ministry based in L.A. which exists to equip and educate artists, creative professionals, churches, and educators to embrace the gospel and become agents of redemption for the arts, the culture, and the world.

AEM ministers directly to artists in the mainstream culture, and provides solid teaching about the relationship between the Bible and the arts so Christ might be glorified through men and women working with integrity in the mainstream art world, media, and entertainment industries. They hold to the Biblical view that Christians are "to be in the world, but not of it" and that we are called to engage the culture in which God has placed us . . . instead of

1) retreating into a Christian ghetto or
2) living in the mainstream culture without discernment or

Join us Oct. 2-3 as we see the work of AEM first-hand at their fifth-annual Evening of Arts and Entertainment, a juried art exhibition showing some of the best artists working today from a Christian worldview.

Refering to 1 Corinthians 10: 31, Leland Ryken also wrote:

". . . every dimension of the artistic enterprise -- creativity, excellence of technique, artistic content, the enjoyment of works of art -- can become a way of glorifying God" (Ryken, Leland 21).

Our road trip to L.A. is a chance to do just that: glorify God through the enjoyment of the arts.
May that be our focus and purpose of ALL we do!

And feel free to join the discussion of the church and the arts on our Facebook discussion page: http://bit.ly/sGups

Ryken Leland. Culture in Christian Perspective: A Door to Understading & Enjoying the Arts. Portland: Multnomah Press, 1986.

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