Spirituality and Art: Do we really need a label?

I know it might be hard to believe but I’ve been forcing myself to NOT post for a bit now. I’ve been feeling really run down lately and have been forcing myself to take it easy. Yeah that’s what us type A’s have to do. It usually happens after I finish a show. I don’t want anything to do with performing for about a month after a show closes. Then it hits me again…hard! The need to create, perform, express…something, anything! Lately I’ve been taking some time to read and reflect. I want to make sure that my next endeavors are really more focused on what I want to do with my life career/artist-wise. The problem with me is not having the dedication to accomplish whatever I set my mind to, it’s finding out what the heck I want to set my mind to! I always admire those individuals (my mother especially) who have a vision and work towards it. I can have a bizillion ideas and want to accomplish all of them but end up not really accomplishing much but burnout.  I’ve been reading Ted Baehr’s How to Succeed in Hollywood without Losing your Soul and it has been truly insightful. He includes interviews from successful Christians in the industry and how they are being a light in the process. I’ve been really mulling over what it means to be a Christian artist or an artist who is a Christian. I really don’t like those terms for this argument…for those of you who didn’t know…there is an argument going on in the artist realm concerning the creation of Christian art. I personally believe there is a place for those who feel compelled to create art that is explicitly Christian like Sherwood Pictures who created Fly Wheel, Facing the Giants, Courageous. Or Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ (loved it!). I think there is also a place for work that isn’t explicitly Christian but has great messages like Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel movies. I even love watching good love stories like The Notebook, insightful films like Shades of Ray,  and even enjoy the occasional teeny bopper like Clueless. (I know it’s old but it’s a favorite of mine.)

When I say the art is Christian I mean that the subject matter is spiritual pertaining to the Christian faith. When it’s not explicitly Christian the subject matter doesn’t have to be of the Christian faith but could have Christian themes, purposefully or not. I personally think that whatever art I create whether it is about a Christian subject or not is going to be spiritual because I am a Christian. Ted Baehr argues that the adjective of “christian” should be removed from our description of art/films/music/etc.

As an artist I am not going to be labeled or put into a creative box by Christians or non-christians. I have to fight my own tendencies to put myself in a box however! As long as I follow God’s moral will for my life I am free to express and so are you. Hopefully the things I want to express will be more and more mature in Christ as I grow in Him. I realize as I grow older and away from legalistic tendencies (by God’s grace) I realize it’s okay and normal to express things that we as humans collectively experience: love, loss, victory, joy, confusion, pain, desire to name a few. I can create work around these subjects. King David did. He spoke about so many things in the Book of Psalm and yet he spoke about God too. I think it’s a wonderful thing to journey with someone on their life as they discover and grow. So many times we only share after we have gone through whatever it is that we are going through, draw a biblical conclusion and then share it. As artists I think we must share the journey. That will service mankind. For someone to witness the internal journey of a believer is sometimes what will break the walls down and allow us to be a light.

In the book, I am amazed at how the Christians have learned to use words to not compromise their beliefs but also to sway a director from making an ungodly choice on set and at the same time not offend their co-workers. That is the balance that I would like to strive for. I think it could seem like they are watering down their beliefs but I see that in the situation it is being gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent.

But this is my opinion. Tell me what you think? How have you been impacted by art… Christian explicit or not?


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