More on Christian ArtistsMay 13, 2005
As to the issue of those who “took me to task” for my views on Christian art, I don’t mean to suggest they were angry with me. They just disagreed with the concept of Christian art defined by the person who produces it. They defined it, rather, by its content. They wanted art that was proclamational.
That’s fine for books and music which have “messages”, but it is much more nebulous for instance when we talk about the visual arts. Can a painter be said to be “Christian”? Obviously, from his many books, we have come to understand that Thomas Kincaid is a believer. Does that mean his paintings are “Christian”? I believe so. Christian music was much harder to define by content in Classical eras because it had no words. But by listening to it with your spirit, you can tell the difference between Bach and Wagner…or today, between John Cage and Christopher Parkening. It is the spirit of the person who produces the music that defines its nature.
Btw…to answer Jeremiah’s comments (see the comments under the previous posting) …Christopher Parkening is a tremendous example of someone who is a strong Christian and yet leads his field of music (he is a classical guitarist). However, I also agree there aren’t many Christian artists who have made it in the much more discerning world outside of Christendom. We do accept mediocre work, simply because it has a Christian message. What pains me is that several of the most skilled, talented writers today are patently anti-christian in their approach. No one can paint a character like John Updike. But try reading him to find any sense of moral or ethical truth and you’ll be sorely disappointed. Annie Proulx has the craft down pat; but I’d like to see you get much truth out of The Shipping News.
One Christian writer however that deserves mention is Annie Dillard. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for the book, “A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.” That book may be the best-written book by a Christian in the 20th Century. In addition, several of Madeleine L’Engle’s books are considered classics and they contain biblical truth everywhere (in fact, it is hard to turn a page without finding some). Her book “Certain Women” is a reference to the female followers of Jesus. But she paints a story involving a man dying who is surrounded by his wife, daughters and ex-wives in a wonderful tale of reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness. Hooray both for L’Engle’s craft and heart.