Edited By: Leslyn Kim
A number of thoughts ran through my mind as I read through this article in the Atlantic “How Sufjan Stevens Subverts the Stigma of Christian Music”.
One statement in particular not only made me laugh out loud, but also caused me to reflect on what it truly means to be a Christian witness as it relates to creating art:
Here the Atlantic describes Steven’s work as “representing a different camp of “Christian art,” with completely different motives and characteristics, he’s distinct among other artists of faith, who tend to produce bad, kitschy work—whether heavy-handed films like Facing the Giants and Fireproof, or the musical travesties on the Wow compilation albums.”
What constitutes “Christian art”?
To be a Christian artist, do you have to create art saturated with faith themes, and deemphasized aesthetics, or can you simply make art which simply speaks to the person you have become as a follower of Christ?
N.T. Wright defines it this way……..
“to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology … a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity.”
The “Fireproof”, and “God is Not Dead” brand of Christian movies are meaningful to a certain audience within evangelicalism. I stuff those movies into one giant box labeled self-affirming, Christian patriotism. When it comes to movies, I dig certain aspects of that nationalistic attitude, while still wondering how much of an evangelistic turn-off it is to the outside world. In reality, the vast majority of people probably find simple joy in watching a movie that’s not trashy, that has a uplifting message–something the whole family can watch.
Most of Christian radio does not fit into that category. My gripe is with the idea that Christians can’t create songs with catchy tunes, or ultra-creative aesthetically beautiful art, because it too closely mirrors vain worldly ambitions centered around beauty, material or immaterial.
It’s easy to say, why should we care? However, that begs the question why shouldn’t we? The article from the Atlantic reveals that I’m not the only one who sees it this way.
That brings me to conclude why I decided to pen this strange blog. To introduce a new artists that shatters every stereotype I mentioned above. Somehow, she seems to embody everything the evangelical world could improve upon. A more authentic and bold expression of faith that still emphasizes what we unabashedly declare with our mouths, but places the chief emphasis on a life story that reflects the work of the Masters hands. In this particular case, the life story is told through music. I believe it’s this type of life that people see. And in their observation it speaks volumes.
“Let your light so shine that others may see your good works, and glorify your father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
Stay tuned for the next blog….