LIKE SOUP AT A BAD CAFE: When It Comes To The Arts, Christian’s Brains Are Better Left ‘Unstirred’

Published on September 25, 2014

Wow. This chick gets it. If you’re a Christian and an artist you need to marinate in this. Check this out from Michelle Hindman at Center for a Just

This anxiety is all too often reinforced by much of what Christian culture deems to be distinctly “Christian art.” With an emphasis on tidy morality and an avoidance of ambiguity, we believe that the imagination can be rendered safe. Stories are sanitized to the point of becoming saccharine or ludicrous. This is all done in the name of protecting our minds, taking captive even our entertainment so it will not pose a threat to our sanctity.

But what if we assume that a Christian’s imagination is formed in God’s image? Unleashed, it might more reflect C.S. Lewis’ Aslan – not safe, but good. Christ commanded his disciples to resist defining holiness by what things are avoided or by who is left out. This sort of disengagement keeps things simple, but robs us of real righteousness and faith. Our goodness has never been defined by that which we, by our own power, control. The faithful Christian knows that the only righteous posture is not one of defensiveness, but one of humble receptivity to the God who alone gives all good things. I cannot presume to give a decisive list of the things which Christians should and should not pursue; that is a line that only individuals can draw, with the guidance of the Spirit. I would suggest instead, however, that we flee the temptation to put imagination on “lockdown” out of fear, as I and so many others have in the past.

A Christian’s imagination should not be defined by the things it avoids or rejects, in pride or in fear. Instead, a Christian’s imagination should be set apart by a radical hope. Our scriptural precedent is one of incredible inclusiveness: bring in the Gentiles, lower the sheet full of ‘unclean foods’ to kill and eat as clean, use the altar to the “unknown God” as a starting point for conversation. We are not called to be iconoclasts, but rather seekers of God’s image everywhere, for “Christ plays in ten thousand places.” Awakening our imaginations, and partaking in a wide variety of imaginative works, displays trust in the goodness of God’s creation and the prevalence of his grace rather than in our own legalism. We need not plunge into that which is offensive or utterly counter to Christian virtue, but we can, more than others, wade through dark content and still maintain a sense of the light. We can read Job and we can watch Christopher Nolan. We have nothing to fear.

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