Tag Archives: Christian Art

Is it True? Is it Beautiful? Questions to ask About our Art

by Carolyn Arends

Last year some Christian artist friends urged my husband and me to see a production at a local theatre. The play contained some of the most profanity-laden dialogue we had ever heard. And yet, as the story unfolded, we realized we were witnessing a profoundly redemptive story – one that pointed surprisingly and unmistakably to the gospel of Jesus.

Carolyn Arends is a musician and author in Surrey, B.C.
Carolyn Arends is a musician and author in Surrey, B.C.

We left the theatre moved and confused. Without the gritty language, would the play have been able to point so powerfully to grace in the midst of brokenness? Was it okay to expose ourselves to the language for the sake of the story?

Those of us who love stories (told in all the various art forms available to us) face a quandary. What if to tell a story honestly, unsavoury or downright evil behaviours must be portrayed? The Apostle Paul encouraged us to train our minds on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, [and] whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).

Does that mean we are constrained – either as receivers or creators of art – to keep certain topics or words off limits?

In a class I was teaching on faith and the arts, I struggled through this question with a group of college students. We recognized that factors like maturity and personal history are important. Some things aren’t appropriate for children, and mature viewers might need to avoid any portrayals that are “stumbling blocks” in their particular context. And we could all agree on extreme cases of exploitative and gratuitous sex, violence and abusive language that are clearly outside the bounds of the Philippians 4:8 mandate.

But we were less sure what to do with greyer areas.
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Why I Don’t Call Myself a Christian Artist

by Albert Mueller

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Canola Field IV by Albert Mueller. His artwork is featured in Canadian Creatives in the Sept/Oct Faith Today

I never hear anyone refer to themselves as Christian truck drivers, or Christian factory workers, airline pilots, doctors, or lawyers. The list goes on. Most of the time a person will tell you what their occupation is, and then you might find out later that they are Christian also.

The band U2 is one of the most popular pop rock bands in the world and has been for some time. Not many people think of them as Christians, much less as Christian artists. They are generally considered a secular rock band as opposed to a Christian worship group. I don’t imagine too many churches would consider calling them up to lead worship in their church.

As a visual artist I do not consider myself a Christian Artist.

I am simply an artist, but will always be a Christian first. The word Christian is used as an adjective to describe the person or the type of art a person makes. When a person is called a Christian artist the person is now compartmentalized into making only Christian art.

The artist is no longer making art for the sake of being a creative person that God made them to be.

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Why is Christian Art Sometimes So Schmaltzy?

Change of Season by Patty Kingsley
Change of Season by Patty Kingsley

My kids have a lovely relative who buys them Christian novels to read. Lately, I’ve noticed a growing skepticism on the part of my children. They are suspicious of the book if they think it is “Christian.”

At 18, 15 and 14, they have – without any help from me I will add – concluded that sometimes those books just aren’t as good as the ones you read at school or even more likely, pick up at Indigo.

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