Convergence? (Rob)

Coming up with this name was weird. It was one of those times where I just threw a name out there, and it stuck. I had previously used “Anomaly Productions” for a few shows I had put together. But, I really haven’t changed, fundamentally, what I think about how the Church should actively engage the arts.

the legend of junior sapp

I’m sure my perspective has been highly tainted my personal experience in Seattle. But, actually, over time I’ve seen the “functional” ideology behind that perspective. Being “in” the world is only seen as vital if it’s inherently evangelistic. Even if that evangelism is unspoken, the goal is always there. In my opinion, no matter how you spin it, that turns people into means rather than ends.

So, for me, I have to go much further back. Is creativity inherently good?

I’m sure most Christians would say it’s “okay” to enjoy a movie or a book or a CD from someone who isn’t a believer. But, what does that mean? Is that it, it’s just okay? Or, is it admirable? Is it good?

I started asking these kinds of questions several years ago. For me, it couldn’t just be okay. If every thing we do is either worshipping God or worshipping idols, then nothing is neutral. Everything matters. Qoholeth is wrong.

For some reason, most people don’t consider that (I would venture to say all of) “Christian music” (or any other thing with that label) is only called that because of the primary writer. The majority of other people involved (from other musicians in a band, to publishers, to producers, to distributors) are not Christians. It is the bottom line business world.

So, in reality, it would be utterly impossible to use that definition of something being “Christian” to say what is “good” for Christians to enjoy. It doesn’t exist.

If we witness a child drawing a picture, using different media to create something, do we start questioning their motives? Do we ask them if they love Jesus? Can we not enjoy what they have created, simply because it is creative?

What is the difference? I’ll use Marilyn Manson as an example, because he seems “extreme” (because most people don’t know anything beyond MTV). Is he not a creative artist? How about the other musicians in his band? Are they not playing their instruments well?

If we say, yes, he is creative, and yes his musicians are good, then why can we not enjoy his music? (Let’s assume that, overall, the music doesn’t suck). Obviously, he isn’t claiming to be a Christian, so we can’t hold him to any kind of standard. We can’t (like Focus on the Family) judge his content.

the tension art show

I get asked this all the time now, but am I only booking Christian artists? Considering what I’ve already said, that doesn’t exist. So, no. Who do I book for shows? Honestly, I listen to a band, and if they don’t suck, I try to put a show together. I guess that’s pretty subjective, but, to me, it’s a lot more realistic than trying to find Christian musicians who don’t suck and who aren’t arrogant pricks who feel the need to evangelize from the microphone and who demand a ridiculous amount of money.

Another question that comes up a lot is how or why a church is involved in any of this. I’ll leave everyone hanging for that one.

Interestingly, I have already experienced more dismay from Christians than from those who wouldn’t say they follow Christ about what we are doing. It seems most Christians feel pretty safe being away from the people who actually make the music they like.

I’m trying to have grace for ignorance. Any tips?

There are a million things I want to say about this stuff, but that would be a post no one would want to read. Hopefully I will come back and post more soon.

the stage

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Convergence? (Rob)

  1. Rob,

    Great post first off, glad you got to talk about Convergence. I think that its funny when I talk to people about Christian music because no matter what we talk about, those “for” Christian music always contend that “The music just inspires me” or “It lifts me up”. Which kind of music sounds more idolotrous? It seems that most positive responses to Christian music always center around the listener being given to. I guess when it comes down to it, I just want some authenticity to the music and art I appreciate. I don’t always feel that is the case with “Christian” music.

    Thanks for the post bro

    D

  2. Jared

    I think that art is a pretty subjective thing. The person looking, reading or listening to the fruit of some artist’s labor is required to understand it through whatever epistemological lens they look at the world through. That said, if a disciple of Jesus listens to Marilyn Manson or Derek Webb and can’t proclaim Jesus’ lordship and resurrection it’s not for them. That is not a statement about lyrics per se, nor is it a call to turn everything into a tool for evangelism. Here’s an example, a while back I posted a blog on My space about a novel by Orwell and a song by Johnny cash. Neither the song nor the novel have any surface indications of glorifying Christ. No one say Jesus or talks about sin, salvation, etc. But in those two works of art I see beauty that points to the good creation we’ve been given, of which Christ is the center. If a song is bad or an artist completely self-involved, I can’t see beauty, life, love and ultimately I can’t see Jesus. I would say that’s a flaw with the Christian music industry (and most pop music); there’s nothing to see in it. Yeah, it’s there, but it’s like a parade float. It was made to be driven around for a while and then replaced by something new when people get bored.

    Real art has characteristics of personhood. Real art will exist because an artist gave it life, not because Billboard ranked it based on sales.

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