Art and Faith II

Slightly revised reflections from one of my first attempts, nearly 10 years ago, to craft a blog post.

Previously PUBLISHED ON April 11, 2010

I believe my faith has moved from “truth and principle” as the driving force to a picture of “God initiates; Ron responds.”  I’m leaving behind: Ron does A, B and C … so God will do D.

Love grows.  Strong initiator + eager responder.

We have serious questions about each other.  Why suffering?  Why unexpected death, illness, financial struggle, relational struggle?

Scripture looks less like truth and principle and more like paradox, irony, with beautiful relational interplay’s.  And Oh?  Did I mention mystery?

Communion shifted from somber reflection on sin and failure to:

What is it about bread?  So plain, ordinary, often accessible, that, when brought to Christ, yields a kiss, a healing, scales falling from my eyes?

“Hunger and thirst, O Christ, for sight of Thee

Came between me and all the feasts of the earth.

Give Thou Thyself the Bread, Thyself the Wine

Thou, sole provider for the unknown way.”

~Radbod of Utrecht~

I notice a shift from “I choose,” (that Arminian[1] shadow placing undo power and hubris in my hands) to “I respond.”  Response means I’m watching intently for God’s creative new initiations (do you hear the chimes dancing in the wind?) and readily responding, often secretly, to His whispers, crumbs, presence.  Hey!  The good news is not truth nor principle as much as the Person behind it all.

Now, that ushers in art!  Art is a way I can explore this person.  Art is the means of my discovering how wonderful I’ve found Christ to be.  The passions run deep and strong.  Passions that look like a Cellist weaving and swaying, eyes closed, as music fires like neuronal transmissions from his fingers and bow.

No more dulling my pain, suffering, confusion, or blasphemies.  I remember Christ, the suffering servant, I notice alongside me.  Art lets me catch the hints, the glimpses.  For the moment, that’s enough.

O, how can I write about this?

O, how can I praise with new words right for these moments?

Editors note 12/1/19: Ten years have passed since thinking this way and I’m not so sure “Ron responds” hasn’t shifted so sometimes it looks like: “God initiates; Ron squirms, questions, demands, screams, bawls, whines, shakes his fist, crosses his arms and stomps his feet, then comes to the end of himself, lays his deadly doing down, and learns to trust.”

[1] Arminianism, a theological movement in Christianity, a liberal reaction to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. The movement began early in the 17th century and asserted that God’s sovereignty and man’s free will are compatible.





2 thoughts on “Art and Faith II

  1. Wow… there’s a lot of deep stuff going on here! It’s going to take a lot of pondering with my simple, linear-thinking brain to understand the path of your thinking.

    However, one phrase did remind me of something.

    ” Art is a way I can explore this person. Art is the means of my discovering how wonderful I’ve found Christ to be. The passions run deep and strong.”

    This was almost 40 years ago, but I was at a worship symposium and the speaker was teaching that the original intent for art was worship. The original intent for EVERY form of art was for art to be a gift from God where we would blend a stirring from within ourselves with the anointing from the Holy Spirit and bring it out into an expression of worship.

    The world has perverted every form of art, but art’s original purpose was a gift to help us express love and worship when words alone would feel too… one dimensional.

    Traditional church kinda tells people that you can only worship by just one of the arts: music. And only music provided by the “professional” church musicians. (This is related to the implication that a ministry can only be accomplished by someone with a lengthy degree, lots of cryptic letters after their name, and knighted to some important-sounding position in the four walls of a church.)

    Art is any creative medium that helps you express love and worship to the Savior: music, ballet, painting, mime, chalk on a sidewalk, cooking, writing, sculpting with play-dough, chain-saw carving, or landscaping!

    Ok, so art is something that helps us to worship God. Then you also say this:

    “Art is a way I can explore this person.”

    Wow! I hear you saying that art will take us into new realms of discovering the infinity of God’s love and greatness that other vehicles can’t reach. Maybe that’s one of the things we get to do in the eternity of heaven.

    That’s a radical and powerful thought, Ron! That’s going to challenge me to be more open and expressive to God.

    Children, while they are still young and naturally “tuned into” their heavenly Father, and before they become self-conscious about everything, are this way by nature. They skip in the sunshine, splash in the water, dance in the flowers, talk to the play-dough, and repeat Bible stories to their dolls.

    And they love mommy. Perhaps “art” will be glue and popsicle sticks, or a macaroni and pipe-cleaner bracelet, or maybe just crayon scribbles on paper… “Here, mommy – this is how much I love you!”

    Guess where that “art” is going? On the most important display venue in the house: the refrigerator. For months. Possibly years.

    We should open our concept of worship – even when our attempts are only “scribbles.” You can be sure the Father will have them proudly displayed on His fridge to all the angels!

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