Girls and the 14 Year Old
A 14-Year Old's Ragamuffin Mentors

Much Ado About Something

Key3_thumbOn my recent excursion to Europe, after three mostly inane movies (the worst of which was RV), and after I had read all of the book I was reading that I could take, I read a short article in ByFaith, an excellent publication of the Presbyterian Church in America, called "Much Ado About Nothing: Bringing the Theater Back to Life."  In it, Nat Belz interviews Atlanta-based playwright and actor Tom Key, who is  renowned for his performance of C.S. Lewis On Stage -- a show performed in churches as well as at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Oxford University.  You can read an analysis of what he does here, but I'm more interested in some of the things he said in the interview.

"I understand using Christian as an adjective.  But when it's used in terms of the arts as an adjective, it usually is really referring to plays or movies or paintings that are about subjects in Scripture. . . . Even though it might be [Christian], it doesn't necessarily mean it's art. . . . It's like getting on an airplane and the pilot tells me he's a Christian, I'm glad to know that, but I really want to make sure he can fly the plane."

Key is right.  Labeling an artist or her art as Christian or non-Christian is not helpful.  The body of work of an artist should be examined as a whole to discern if it is true and, then, if it is true enough, that is faithful to our understanding of reality with its major theme (grace) and minor theme (sin).  Consider another quote by Key:

"My only limit [in what elements I include in a play] is telling the truth.  I have turned things down in my career because I thought they didn't tell the truth.  They were either sentimental. . . or I thought that they were presenting reality as we would wish it to be, but like it's not.  Or, it was nihilistic, the world without grace.

His thoughts remind me of a small book by the late Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible, which is still, I believe, the best and more succinct expression of how Christians should view art.  Schaeffer said that "a Christian artist does not need to concentrate on religious subjects," any more than God's Creation focuses on religious subjects.  He said that "Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person who is a Christian."

Read the article in ByFaith.  It's the key (no pun intended) to a real Christian view of art.  I'm feeling better all the time about watching Stargate SG-1.