1. notleia says:

    When we were discussing the difference between art and Art in lit class, one of my peeps’ criteria was offensiveness (more to the status quo than to the individual). And I think that’s true, if only because we’re more likely to remember it, lol.

    E.g., I find impressionistic style paintings to be more memorable because it’s offensive to the photorealistic sensibility encouraged by photography and HDTV. Maybe I should phrase it “offensive” with quotes, because I don’t really find it offensive-offensive.

    • Interesting, Notleia. I’ve never heard of “offensive” as a definer of art. I suppose that would work today because undoubtedly a large segment of people who prefer Art are offended by the Christian themes of those Medieval artists and musicians.


  2. A beautiful and timely post, when there is such a pull in Christian art and media between the “be overt” camp and the “go under the radar and speak the Gospel with actions” group. This is a false dichotomy. There is a need for both. And I would challenge overt message believers and under the radar believers to take care that they aren’t becoming proud in their position, as if how they show the Gospel makes them somehow better. And also, never say never. God may ask an overt Christian to show their faith with actions, or challenge an under the radar Christian to speak out.

  3. Julie D says:

    The image of the male and female birds was quite intriguing.  I may have to ponder that image for a while.

  4. Paul Lee says:

    Tolkien’s sub-creation theory generally seems consistent with this argument. One of my great privileges I’ve had in my unremarkable education was the opportunity to learn that Tolkien was inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement — a movement that emphasized authenticity and skilled craftsmanship in design (lettering/textile design) and home decorative arts.

    William Morris was both a textile designer and a the author of one of the first fantasy books. Maybe the more English/humanities oriented people around here could say more about the relationship between A&C and contemporaneous movements in fine arts and literature, but point is there was a relationship. Practical applications and pure impractical artistry went hand-in-hand.

    Tolkien wrote about creative beings — God’s creation, gods’ muddling and remixing of God’s creation, mortals creating powerful and real things that are also beautiful. He did not write about elves and hobbits who wrote their own fantasy novels, however. Without practical application, the dream of speculative fiction is vain. We don’t generally read stories about stories; we read stories about real things—and I think that we search for the wonder that we find in stories in the real world.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Paul. I’m not familiar with the Arts and Crafts Movement, but from what you say here, it does fit in well with Tolkien’s sub-creation approach. I also like what you say about Tolkien’s invented people not making up stories. Very interesting! They made up songs and poetry, but their storytelling was history, not make-believe—something else I hadn’t thought of before.


  5. Martin LaBar says:

    I am impressed. You know about A. C. Green!

  6. Love this piece, Becky. I wish I had caught it the first time around.

    I think one reason why many Christians are so nervous about the truth that good art by Christians should be intentionally beautiful/good/truthful, and thus function as an expression of intentional God-ward-ness, is that we wrongly believe worship and praise of God are boring. We assume they are limited to (supposedly) dull and ritualistic practices such as church liturgy, or prayer and Scripture reading. Instead we ought to see that the purpose of these things is to train us for the tasks of intentionally “functioning” as God-glorifiers in all of life. And that function is no more un-beautiful than the function of a beautiful watch mechanism, or one of those beautiful nebulae drifting or quasars pulsing silently, unseen, far out in deep space.

  7. Interesting thought, Stephen, that our expectation of worship may be something routine and uninteresting. I’d never thought about that before. Of course some people look at worship as a event that engenders emotionalism, so for them it’s not worship unless people are on the verge of tears or so moved that they want to clap or raise their hands. But of course worship isn’t about us at all and it really doesn’t matter what our emotional response is. We are the givers in worship, acting because of who God is and what He’s done. The focus should rightly be on Him and not on us.

    Which is what I think Christian fiction should be at some level. Big topic. I don’t have time to elaborate in a comment. Maybe another post one day. ! 😉


What do you think?