Friday, August 13, 2010

Speaks To and Through The Heart

First, I saw on Letters of Note this quote from Marting Luther King, Jr. to Sammy Davis, Jr.: 

“Art can move and alter people in subtle ways because, like love, it speaks through and to the heart.”

Then I was directed to Experimental Theology’s blog’s entry on art that (intentionally, it seems) tries to NOT speak to the heart (thanks Bryan for the referral).  

Most profound point, "Our spirits can't be long sustained in such an environment..."

[Good to note that the “Christian Bookstores” where this type of art is found seeks to service a rather small percentage of Christians.]

Professor Beck's discussion put in mind a recent close encounter I had with such an approach to art.

Not that long ago, I listened to a woman who oversees the worship and arts at a large church as she talked about the purpose of art in worship. 

She doesn’t allow art in her church without a definable “take-away.”  Unless the congregation understands and can articulate how the art affected them, the art has no value.

Understands and can articulate.

If they can say, “That song showed me that Jesus loves me,” the song has value.

If the music moves them beyond words, the song has no place in her house of worship.

If they can say, “That piece of art clearly symbolizes the broken nature of Jesus on the cross,” the piece of art has value.

If the art draws them out, pushing their spirit to focus behind themselves (elevates them, even), the piece of art has no value.

If they can say, “That drama perfectly explained the nuances of Calvinistic Christology,” the drama has value.

If the drama hits their gut, makes them weep and wonder if there is a power in the universe that can touch and heal a grieving heart, then that drama can hit the road, Jack.

Does it inspire?  Arouse?  Is it (lord, please no) transcendent?

Then it doesn’t fit in her practical theology.

Heaven help us all.

Just my thoughts,



Linds said...

Preach it, Brother Gaffney!

Martin said...

So-called "art" is not art at all, not in the higher senses of the word, if it must have a definable take-away. At best, it's commercial art, like an appealing photograph of the newest luxury sedan in an advertising spread. At worst, it's propaganda. Take away its ineffability and you've removed something vital. A butterfly may not have a definable take-away until it is artfully pinned to a card, but then of course it's dead.

David Goulet said...

The Nazis and Communists had a lot of art with a very high take-away value. God help us indeed if we're going down that artistic road.