The angles of this questions, the directions it’s capable of going, the conclusions it carves avenues to are endless. So endless, I feel a bit overwhelmed, so I’ll limit myself to describing one particular encounter I’ve had with the debate. I’ll also talk more specifically about literature because it’s the art I’ve studied most and have spent the most time in.
A couple of years ago, I attended a conference at the invitation of a friend. I forget the actual name of the conference, but it was for Christian art and media professionals (neither of which I was at the time) and although the name didn’t stick with me, the content did. It was winter in England, an early morning after a late night. I had my puffy winter coat, hat and scarf on inside because the heating was out in the building. I sat in my folding chair willing myself to be warm and focused enough to listen to the speaker. His words turned out to be captivating enough. He began to speak about art and truth and how so many artists find themselves expressing dark themes like sadness, loss and loneliness and how–this is what turned my attention from rapidly rubbing my palms together for warmth to not being able to take my eyes off him–that’s ok.
And so my internal questioning began…
Christian art is supposed to bring light and hope, right? Well above that, he argued, Christians are to share truth. And sometimes the truth seems more sad, more dark, but truth is our mission. So portraying it through art is noble and as Christian as it gets.
This was helpful for me, someone who has always been strangely drawn to the works of people like Cormac McCarthy, whose books make you wonder if life is worth living at all, yet also very drawn to her faith. Knowing both loves could not only coexist but even compliment each other was a wonderful discovery.
I believe the speaker also addressed
-the issue of nudity and art (also ok) and the fine line between it and pornography.
-And our attempts at mimicking secular art in order to reach more people but inevitably “Christianizing” it, resulting in a slightly off quality.
The fact we even distinguish Christian art from art is something I hope we can eventually overcome.