Why Christians Must Work in Secular Art (Pt 2)

I’ve talked recently about why Christians should care about art, in this new series I’m going to talk about why Christians should specifically encourage each other to work in secular art fields as well as overtly Christian ones

Click here to read Part 1

Reason 2: Christian Entertainment Can Only Say Certain Things

 

No one piece of art is a complete theology.

That is, you can develop a particular theological idea in a piece, but frequently you figure out that the truth is somewhere between balancing two ideas.

There is God’s righteousness which demands sin be paid for, there is also his divine love that wishes all humans would find freedom.

Talk too much about either idea while ignoring the other, and you’ll have an inaccurate view of how God, an incomplete theology.

So, talking about theological ideas in a movie, painting, novel or other kind of artwork means you have to find a way to strike the best balance between these ideas.

But every artistic medium has its limits.

You can only fit so many ideas in a two-hour movie without overstuffing it. You can only paint one expression on a subject’s face while making a portrait.

So, in many cases, artists have to only capture one particular side of the philosophical spectrum and focus on doing that well.

For example, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings capture the idea God is humanity’s great designer by showing humans as strong.

But humans are also dependent on God’s strength, which requires other paintings that show humans as frail.

What does this all have to do with Christian entertainment?

Well, if no artwork is a complete theology by itself, then we need many diverse artworks that cover all the sides of the theological spectrum.

But the tough truth is that we won’t get that much diversity in the explicitly Christian entertainment markets. Many of those markets are inherently small.

Author Ben Wolf blogged about this recently in regards to Christian Fiction, specifically Christian speculative fiction.

Essentially he points out that Christian Fiction writers rarely outsell mainstream authors: by and large, the Christian Fiction industry sells less than the mainstream book industry.

We need to recognize that frequently Christian entertainment survives by making specialized products, so it’s not likely to radically expand to include more diverse messages.

Some of us may have success creating alternative Christian entertainment brands (for a good example of that, check out Monster Ivy Press).

But for many of us, the best option is to learn to describe theological ideas in works we release through mainstream entertainment.

While we’re at it, we can start talking to other Christians about the spiritual ideas we’re trying to explore in our work and show it’s okay to talk about “secular entertainment” that discusses spiritual ideas.

In fact, there are already several publications (notably RELEVANT and Christ and Pop Culture) devoted to those kinds of discussions, and plenty of books on the topic.

We need artwork that covers the diversity of Christian ideas, but we can only get so much of that in Christian entertainment.

Do you like this post? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

 

One thought on “Why Christians Must Work in Secular Art (Pt 2)

  1. Pingback: Why Christians Must Work in Secular Art (Pt 3) – G. Connor Salter

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