Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Addicted to Mediocrity

If you're a Christian involved in the arts, you MUST read this book by Franky Schaeffer.

Although the book was written in 1981, Franky's comments about contemporary evangelicalism indulging themselves in propagandizing, sloganeering bad art with the label "Christian" slapped on it is more relevant that ever.

Franky attacks the false notion that Christian artists MUST have an overt, and obvious "Christian" theme present in their art to be effective. He proceeds to argue the vital point that creativity in and of itself is godly, good, and to be celebrated as one of the very things our Creator has endowed us with for our enjoyment.

The Arts and creativity need not serve any utilitarian function. Nor should a Christian artist feel that unless he's producing artwork for a "Christian tract," or a "church growth campaign," that the artist's work is unjustified.

Again, the arts are a good and gracious gift from our Creator, in some ways, a "communicable attribute" of God Himself.

Art needs no justification.

Likewise, Franky tears down the false assumption that some actions in the Christian life are "spiritual," (ie . reading your Bible and praying) while others are "non-spiritual" (ie playing with your kids.) All of the Christian life is spiritual.

I can't recommend this book enough!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mudpies in the Slums

My 5 year old daughter just came in twice within 5 minutes mysteriously asking for a napkin both times.

"What are you you doing out there?" I asked.

"Playing with mud." she said.

I was immediately reminded of a magnificent C.S. Lewis quotation from his lecture, The Weight of Glory:

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

I see this same ignorance in myself before my conversion, but especially afterwards. Prior to my conversion, I didn't understand my deep, mysterious, unfulfillable longings. Yet 10 years after my conversion, here I am; looking for gold in the action figure aisle at Target, or digging wildly through a twenty five cent comic book box, yet all the while knowing infinite joy is offered me.

I suppose initially, it's the joy I experienced of my favorite action figures in my childhood, or coming home with a heaping "butt-load" of twenty five cent comics, to skateboarding, to falling in love, that alerted me to the fact that those there's something bigger out there that those things were pointing to. The rush...and joy may have been attached to these things, but it points beyond the "stuff."

Again, allow me to quote Lewis:

"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited."

If you wanna hear some of the most profound thoughts on this issue of desire and deep mysterious longing check out this lecture by Peter Kreeft. It is AMAZING.