Thursday, October 01, 2009

Art for the Glory of God

My colleague, Ally Gordon at Evangelical Alliance on:

Art for the Glory of God 

As an artist and creative arts coordinator for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship I am often asked how art gives glory to Jesus Christ. The story of art is rich with those who have glorified God through excellent art from the painterly genius of Rembrandt and Cranach the Elder to the musical magnificence of Mendelssohn and Bach. There is no shortage of believers who wrestled with the significance of what they made before the glory of their Creator yet today there are few Christians of evangelical faith on the national arts platform. One can't help but ask why?
James Elkins, professor of art history at the Chicago Institute of Art writes, "contemporary art is as far from organised religion as Western art has ever been and that might be its most singular achievement.[1]" Why do so few Christians enter the arts today? Why don't artists like coming to church? Perhaps we are still experiencing a cultural hangover from the Enlightenment or still working out our reformed theology of images. As people of God's Word we might feel a bit sheepish when it comes to pictures. We value clarity, especially in preaching, but art is anything but clear, often mysterious and at times a bit emotive.
The Dutch art historian and jazz critic, Hans Rookmaaker, suggested two possibilities in Modern Art and the Death of a Culture (pub. IVP 1946), "The artist who is a Christian struggles with great tensions. An artist is expected to work from his own convictions but these may be seen by his atheist contemporaries as ultra-conservative if not totally passé. On top of this he often lacks the support of his own community, his church and family."
Rookmaaker wrote over half a century ago but his words are still prophetic to our times..... 
Go read the rest.

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