The relationship between art (and artists) and the church was a chilly one when I first came to faith in Christ in the `70’s. Evangelicalism had a serious case of amensia, leaving itself disconnected from 2000 years of church history. We got kitsch instead of thoughtful, provocative, beautiful art.
It’s a lovely thing to see the tide turning. Lovelier still, to be able to surf on it. The old, false, mean-spirited walls are crumbling. It is a slow process, but a hopeful one. I love the changes I see happening in the church’s attitude toward art. Here in Chicago:
Willow Creek does an amazing arts conference each June. How I wish I was there this year. I followed the reporting on their conference blog, and it made me salivate as I read: http://2007artsconferenceblog.blogspot.com/
Karitos, that unpredictable, scrappy, vagabond and completely delightful multi-disciplinary arts conference, continues to be held each year: www.karitos.com.
Artists who happen to be Christians make art. Write books. Create music. I am on a mailing list for a group that is trying to gather for artist support and discussion in Chicago. The groups’s purpose is not to help its members figure out how to paint a pastel picture with a Bible verse (taken out of context) on it – but how people of faith can create excellent art. I’m hoping to visit this group at one of their upcoming gatherings. I’ll let you know what its like.
I’ve attended a couple of different writer’s groups this year – first time in my life to try to be a part of a writer’s group. The writing in the non-Christian group was awful. Bad, talentless writing – or porn, which actually doesn’t take much talent either. The writing in the Christian group has been, for the most part, pretty darn good.
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On a separate note: Though I’m not sure you can call it art, my sons Ben and Jacob are now the proud hosts of a radio show being broadcast over the FCC airwaves at WNUR-FM , the Northwestern University radio station. The dudes will be on the air from 5-7 a.m. every Saturday through the summer, and, if you’re an early riser with titanium eardrums, you can also listen to them online. Ben and Jake play bands most people have never heard of (including me) including Deerhoof, The Shags, Old Canes, Jana Hunter and Tragedy Skit System.