This is a continuation of a pseudo- series of mine which I could almost title “The Top Ten Things Christian Ministers Say Which I Disagree With”. The list may have to be expanded to twenty, or fifty, or five hundred. Not that I’m anti-minister, or anti Church: I’m not at all. Many ministers are doing a fantastic job, and I do believe that the true Church is the eternal bride of Christ. But there are just some things that ministers, authors and radio and TV celebrities say which should go unanswered no longer.
I’ve heard this one too many times, and it always gets my back up:
“People just throw paint onto a canvas and call it art.”
This criticism is always in reference to “modern art” which in the eyes of the Christian critic is anything deemed by his own range of tastes to be un-artistic and un-godly. That is, it’s not a virtual photographic reproduction of a mountain scene, a bunch of flowers, or Christ on the cross.
Once again, in such a sweeping, crass generalization, all Christians are painted (excuse the pun) with the same brush-that is, we’re all lumped in and made to look like we have no imagination or semblance of individuality. Christianity is once again included with the likes of the Nazis in Germany, who destroyed a huge number of important works of art across Europe because they were considered to be “un-artistic”, or unpatriotic, or in opposition to true Aryan manhood. We’re all expected to have an appetite for the mundane, the expected, the predictable, the clichéd…the boring.
Contemporary art is now sometimes referred to as being “post-modern”. So what? We’re talking about pictures, not issues which affect salvation. Throwing paint onto a canvas is not going to make me deny my faith in Jesus, neither is it going to allow demons to inhabit me.
Where in the Bible are we told that a picture has to look like anything at all? Who says that a picture has to look like anything familiar to us? Isn’t the important thing, Biblically speaking, our attitude and our motives? Where in the Bible is our imagination-a God-given power and blessing- controlled or tempered apart from motive and the need for godliness?
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).
So, if I want to “throw paint onto a canvas and call it art”, and do it for the glory of God, what’s it to you, Mr. Boring?
The phrase in question here (throwing paint etc.) is itself a cliché. So, to fight fire with fire (and to mix my metaphors), I will use a cliché of my own liking, and say that some of us actually want to think “outside of the box”, because we get tired of all those squares. Oh Lord…deliver us from the thought police!
I will agree that all that is called art is certainly not worthy of time or consideration or respect. But art pioneers are the ones who sometimes create things which are considered at the time to be a mockery of art, or even destructive. Such was the attitude of many towards the early Impressionists, who, rather than trying to create a photographic reproduction of a bunch of flowers, wanted to capture something else in their work: light, time, movement…reality. Now you can see the influence of their imagination even in many churches, because the style has so permeated the “normal” view of art in our present world. They enriched our lives, because they refused to bow to the small, narrow-minded criticism and mockery of those around them who had no imagination and no desire to have it.
The same principle applies to music. If there is any experimentation at all in Christian music, it’s never allowed to reach the ears of those of us who would like to hear it. It’s strangled at the source because it doesn’t fit the mold. The Christian world is today allowing into its consciousness some of the sounds and rhythms and styles that the secular world created thirty years ago, and actually has the nerve to consider itself to be “contemporary”, while the secular world has already moved on ahead. Modernity is not synonymous with evil: its God who gave man the power to be creative-not Satan. Although I will agree that the devil and his kingdom makes use of it, that’s no reason or excuse to abandon it.
So if you can’t understand it or appreciate it, why shouldn’t I? Why should I be limited by your imagination? I’ll tell you now-I refuse to be!
Please please give me something fresh, something creative, something new, something thought-provoking, something which compliments, feeds and fully employs my God-given appetite for all that is possible, and not just what satisfies the accepted norms and what Mr. Boring has for me.