Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and Friends,
Steve here…I thought I’d talk about something completely different today. Some of you know I’m a watercolour artist. I’m preparing for an art show these days and so I thought I’d throw out a few ideas about the importance of the Arts. My hope is the church will recapture the arts and celebrate them in all their various forms. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Here are a few thoughts from myself.
I heard from an artist that the Bible is 80% picture language. We all know Jesus used vivid narrative pictures in His stories. The arts speak an aesthetic language that often say things words struggle to say.
God has given a calling to all of us. I believe my artistic gift is a calling in my life. I am responsible to glorify God with it. God has commissioned me to create and so just like Adam naming each created animal, I reflect carefully on the titles I give each of my paintings. My art is seeking to recreate, in some form, the beauty of God. That is why I am largely a landscape artist. Through my paintings I hope to point to what God says is “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).
Art elicits hope. When I see something “good” or beautiful…I get hopeful. In a sense the ontological argument for God’s existence is an argument for perfection and beauty that points to a perfect Originator. God is that perfection and everything else is contrasted in degrees of beauty to the ultimate perfection. And so, all beauty should point to God. God’s canvas is nature and I seek to capture it in my watercolours. Through colour, form and composition I am seeking to weakly emulate this perfection. I fail miserably often, but, occasionally I see a glimpse of what I’m looking for in my paintings. It is exciting when that happens. All Christian artists whether through music, dance, sculpture or poetry are trying to do the same thing.
I believe art can challenge ideas that our society says is the norm, the truth or politically correct. Art can subtly poke holes in these ideas. Art can serve like a constant drip of water eroding these false presumptions. Slowly wearing away the edges of an idea and exposing the falsehoods beneath. Art can say things not always easily said out loud.
I believe art conveys personal experiences in a powerful language. Art can elicit strong reactions or forgotten memories. Where language is often quickly forgotten and we try to remember what the preacher or teacher or boss or parent said, but it’s gone. Art can memorialize the language being said in some static state so that each time you go back to the art it speaks to you again in a familiar way. My current experience does affect my experience with a piece of art. I can see Rembrandt’s “Prodigal Son” over and over again, over a number of decades and experience it differently each time due to current life experiences.
A few months back I was the guest speaker at Heritage College and Seminary’s “Arts Week”. I painted a piece entitled, “Facing Christ”, while speaking from John 8 and 9 talking about facing shame. The spirit of God was present as I spoke to the students. Some heads hung low, others were shifting uneasily in their seat, a couple young women were weeping. Art touches the heart. It can be used to help heal. Art is used by therapists. Could we not somehow use it in church ministry to bring healing? Music that heals. Dramatic scripture reading that heals. Paintings and banners in the foyer, auditorium or prayer room that heal.
I realize that many of my friends receiving this email believe Jones is stretching it here. That’s fine.
However, when I do “my art” it causes me to pause. To wonder, meditate and gain perspective. It feels like a “sabbatical”. A place of rest to be replenished. When doing art I use another part of my brain and my emotional reservoir gets filled. The act of using a specific medium to try and see the world the way God sees the world helps me to speak into issues like pain, loss, injustice, peace, compassion, etc. Art helps people make sense of life. Art, whether it’s painting, or composing music, or dance, or poetry, or crafting, or drama is a subtle means to make sense of God’s providence in our lives. It helps to make sense of life. And so, “Viva la arts!” What do you think? What artistic ventures have you experienced in your church-life in recent days?
Have a blessed week