Tuesday, January 30, 2007

bad Jesus art

You gotta check out this post by the arts pastor at Hope Chapel in Austin, TX...

It reminds me of the following excerpts from my studies:

"Christian art? Art is art, painting is painting; music is music; a story is a story. If it's bad art, it's bad religion, no matter how pious the subject." --L'Engle, Walking on Water

"Aeschylus writes, 'In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'

We see that wisdom and that awful grace in the silence of the Pieta, in Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems; in Poulenc's organ concerto, but we do not find it in many places where we would naturally expect to find it. This confusion comes about because much so-called religious art is in fact bad art, and therefore bad religion...Some of those soppy pictures of Jesus, looking like a tubercular, fair-haired, blue-eyed goy, are far more secular than a Picasso mother and child. The Lord Jesus who rules my life is not a sentimental, self-pitying weakling. He was a Jew, a carpenter, and strong. He took into his own heart, for our sakes, that pain which brings wisdom through the awful grace of God." --L'Engle, Walking on Water...

"Stripped of religious and moral values, many contemporary artists who are self-conscious and creative, knowing that they are, but not knowing the why, see themselves as results of a cosmic accident. Much postmodern art, fiction, poetry, music, drama, and film represents the result of this unknowing and the fragmentation, cynicism, and personal chaos that result from it.

The tragedy is that so many Christians , in their revulsion at the perverse aspects of such art, shun all art, even that which may spring from a God-honoring imagination or a Christocentric consciousness. The other 'Christian' alternative is a conservatism that responds only to 'kitsch', a sentimental art of the Hallmark greeting card variety that cheapens true sentiment, turning it into sweetness and light or mere moralistic propaganda -- no teeth, no guts, no muscle, no reality. No real Christianity either, if we consider the Creator's work a our powerful, radical model.

But 'kitsch' is easy. It is as accessible as a Thomas Kinkade painting, and as stereotypical. It is manipulative and narcotic, and by contrast it makes true art seem difficult or complicated. For true art is not all sweet reasonableness. It may project outrage, or make a creative statement as hyperbolic as Jesus' 'if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; if your right hand causes you tos in, hack it off and throw it away.' Such an image is meant to jolt, to shock, to sting, to push truth into our awareness in ways that show the freshness, originality, and surprise of the Creator." --Luci Shaw, Beauty and the Creative Impulse
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