The Christian Artist vs. The Christian Who Makes Art

The auditorium was packed, hundreds of literary hopefuls, avid readers, admiring law students, and simple fans all squeezed in together to hear one of the most respected and prolific writers of our time tell his story.

It was 2000, my senior year at Baylor University, and my eyes gleamed with all the hopes and potential of publication. So when I heard that John Grisham would be coming to speak on campus, I jumped at the opportunity to hear him. Lee and I were engaged at the time, so we went together and, randomly, recording artist Chris Rice was with us as well.

I can’t remember why he was there. I just know that he was, and really it fits because every bit of my history is peppered with random.

I loved listening to John Grisham tell his story. It took him three years to write A Time to Kill, and two years to secure an agent. The novel was picked up by a small publishing house who ordered only 5,000 copies printed. Grisham bought 1,000 of those and sold them himself.

Meager beginnings from a man who just had stories to tell.

At the end of his talk, Grisham opened the floor for a Q & A, and this started off nicely with students asking smart, respectful questions. Then one girl stood up and approached the mic.

“Mr. Grisham,” she said, “Thank you for speaking with us today. I noticed you spoke of your faith, and yet I can’t help but wonder why, if you believe yourself to be a Christian, you aren’t writing Christian books that are more God-honoring.”

And the entire auditorium groaned. 

Grisham paused and looked closely at the girl, an amused smile tilting his mouth upward. He cleared his throat and leaned forward just a little before speaking. “Well,” he said. “The reason is simple. I am a Christian who is a writer. I’m not a Christian writer.” Then he straightened up, and the audience erupted in applause.

creativity

For the creative Christian artist there is a very real struggle with knowing how art and faith blend. For some, art and faith are obviously intertwined – you cannot have one without the other – and their creative genius spills forth in a visual gospel message.

But what about the Christian artist whose art doesn’t give a blatant visual representation of Christ in every stroke of the paintbrush, completed manuscript, or song penned beneath the candlelight?

Is there a place for creative Christians who aren’t producing overtly Christian work? Can art reflect faith without openly proclaiming Christ?

When you consider that God Himself was the Ultimate creative, the first and the last, the Creator of beauty, of color and smell and taste and sound, the originator of art, and the heavenly conductor of the celestial rhythms that beat out all of this life, it’s not so hard to see creativity as an extension of Him.

[Art] is useful because God is thereby honoured when it is seen that he hath bestowed such genius upon one of his creatures in whom is such art. All men will be gracious unto thee by reason of thine art. 
Albrecht Dürer

For anyone who works from the creative realm, whether they be the obvious arts such as writing, making music, painting or sculpting, to the more obscure and modern arts such as decorating, photography, producing videos, cooking, or designing, it must be noted that they operate as an extension of God Himself.

The creative genius made in the likeness of the Creator.

Many of the greatest historical artistic works flowed directly from a place of faith and yes, the art often revealed that faith in very obvious ways.

As the world progressed, however, the arts began to change, and it seems that Christians lost their sense of just how to portray faith through the medium of creativity. Christian art became a means of proselytizing. It became less about revealing God and His goodness, and more about saving souls. The art was dumbed down in order to send a message, and in this dumbing down the created actually veiled the Creator.

So my question for you, readers, is this: Can great art still reveal the mystery of God’s goodness without being overtly Christian? Can a writer be a Christian without writing a Christian book? Can a painter still reveal God’s glory and goodness without painting Calvary? Can a musician still edify the gospel without singing about God? Can art and faith exist parallel to one another and still bring glory to the Creator, or should they intersect?

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 

1 Corinthians 10:31

Personally, I believe that art and faith are both separate and intertwined. Like John Grisham, I believe an artist can be a Christian without being a Christian artist, and can still unveil God’s glory as the Creator. But…

There’s more we could say on this topic.

I’d like to discuss this further in another blog post, but for now I open the comment section to you. What are your thoughts on the Christian artist vs. the Christian who makes art?

Join me there

The stomach flu, that most unwelcome of visitors, has made a pit stop at our house. I shouldn’t complain. We haven’t met up with the the stomach bug in years. He was bound to stop by at some point.

Landon is down for the count, though I’m hoping the worst of it is behind him. And I’m going to be busy disinfecting, and praying that somehow the rest of us are miraculously spared.

Really, is there anything worse than waiting for the stomach bug to make it’s rounds?

So no new words from me today. But I am over at Extraordinary Mommy this week talking resolutions, and giving a few tips on how to get your kids on board with your goal setting as you plan out your year.

So why don’t you join me over there. It’s for the better, really. You probably don’t want to linger here in germville anyway.

Happy weekending, everyone! May your days be puke-free!

 

NewYears2

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year when we write down a list of ambiguous, unrealistic resolutions for ourselves – goals that we more than likely won’t accomplish because what does “Eat Healthier” really mean, amiright? Does it mean one spoonful of Nutella instead of two, or should I start Pinning fancy recipes for Kale and Brussel Sprouts now?

In recent years, the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions has become less popular. I think we’ve all come to realize that we set ourselves up for failure using the traditional resolution model of the past.

There is something invigorating about the first of the year, though. It teems with possibility and in many ways it feels very much like a fresh start. Setting plans for the coming year doesn’t have to be stressful, as long as we do it the right way.

In recent years, I’ve enjoyed bringing my kids in on this little goal setting tradition. It’s fun to sit down together as a family and discuss where we’d like to be as a unit in a year.

Kids love to set goals. It makes them feel safe when life is predictable.

How children set their goals, though, will depend almost entirely on their personalities and, to a lesser degree, their birth order. Most (not all, of course) Type A first borns will want to set very high, lofty goals (get all A’s on my report card), while feisty second borns will set the bar much lower (eat ice cream every day).

Setting goals as a family is a fun way to tap into your children as unique individuals, and it gives you shared direction as a unit heading into the New Year. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Read the rest at Extraordinary Mommy.com.

Viva La Minivan!

An actual conversation I overheard yesterday while out running errands.

Teenage cashier to the lady in front of me: “How are you today?”

Lady: “Fine.”

Teenage cashier: “It’s so nice outside, isn’t it?”

Lady: “It sure is.”

Teenage cashier: “Do you have any fun plans today?”

Lady: “Actually my husband and I are going to drive over to the beach, put the top down, and enjoy this beautiful weather.”

Teenage cashier: “Oh, that sounds fun. That’s great that you have a cool car that you can do that with. At least you’re not stuck, like,  driving a minivan or something.”

Both respond in hearty laughter.

Can we STOP with the anti-minivan propaganda, people?!

I will have you know that I, too, can drive down the coast with my top down. That sun roof provides ample amount of fresh air, while also keeping the heads of my children protected from the elements.

And the satalite radio keeps the jams pumping. I’m fond of the ’90′s station in particular. I like to “Pump Up the Jams,” if you will.

AND I WILL!

Sloan read me a story from the local news the other day of a Lamborghini that went up in flames here in Tampa. Literally went up in flames due to engine failure. My minivan has never burst into flames on the highway.

WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, EH?!

I pointed this out to Sloan after he read and he just shrugged his shoulders. “A Lamborghini is still cooler than an Odyssey, Mom.”

Maybe, but can a Lamborghini comfortably seat eight people, 15 sips cups, and stash a handful of stale fries under the seat for a rainy day?

A few weeks ago, I looked in the rear view mirror to see Landon frantically pawing at his tongue, a look of horror frozen in his eyes. “What’s wrong?” I asked, slightly alarmed.

“I ate the cheese stick I found under the seat and it tasted SO BAD,” he cried, tears welling up in his eyes.

Okay, so on occasion my minivan may poison small children, but no matter. It’s practical, predictable, and the sleek, sexy black exterior doesn’t hurt, either. That’s right I said sexy.

When it was my turn to step up to the cashier, I got that same genial greeting from the teenager. “Hi there. How are you doing, today?”

“Oh I’m fine,” I said with a smile, all the while formulating my response to the minivan comment. She smiled back and continued sliding my merchandise across the table.

“”It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?” I asked, and she smiled and nodded her head.

“It really is! I get off in a couple of hours and I want to just get outside and enjoy this weather!”

I nodded and grabbed my bag of groceries, the fight going out of me at the girl’s youthful, giddy grin. No reason to burst her bubble now. Her day will come soon enough. The day when she walks into a dealership, hands them the keys to her cute, sporty car, and drives home in a minivan.

And the back seat will probably be noisy and stinky, and if she’s lucky full of moldy cheese. A trip to the beach will be less relaxing, but more fun. And all of this is okay, because at the end of the day her minivan will cost less than a fraction of a Lamborghini, and it won’t spontaneously burst into flames on the highway.

Viva la Minivan!

When the Mundane is all ROCK AND ROLL

Yesterday, my mom came over and picked up the big kids to take them to a movie. Then she kept them through the night. So it was just Lee and I and the baby, but Lee had to work, so I treated the day like any other, put the baby down for a nap, and broke out the bon bons.

Just kidding. WHAT THE HECK IS A BON BON?!

About midway through the morning, Lee walked in, and he was practically giddy. “Today is a mandatory holiday for my company. Mandatory! They practically ordered me to take the day off.”

Then we both stood there dumbfounded for a few minutes because it’s been a long time since we had a stretch of time before us and nothing to fill it with.

“So,” he said.

“So,” I said.

Then I put the baby down for a nap, grabbed my computer because I’m four weeks behind on all things work related, and I snuggled up under a blanket while Lee laid out on the couch to relax.

sunsetcruise2

Burying a parent is insanely draining. I had no idea. I knew it would be sad, and I knew that there would be moments when the reality of the situation would spill over us like the proverbial pile of bricks, but what I didn’t know was that the mental energy it takes to walk through that fire can suck the life right out of a person.

Add to it four weeks of hosting a teenager who doesn’t speak English, a newborn, and three wily kids and you’re bound to feel your brain begin to melt.

We took the weekend to recuperate a bit, but with little downtime it still felt like life was steamrolling ahead full force, and in the back of my mind the question spun endlessly, “Did all of that really happen?

Then came the screeching brakes of yesterday. The quiet house that some might find boring actually covered us like a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold day. It was slow, mundane, and it was beyond exciting. Even Annika felt the charge in the air and responded with a three hour nap and endless coo’s and giggles.

I’m not the best at slowing down. In general I like to plow through life and accomplish ALL THE THINGS before I ever really sit down and be still. Unfortunately, on any given day there are more things to accomplish than I could possibly hope, so most of the time I feel like I’m fluttering around without aim.

Yesterday was good. I accomplished some of the things, and I wrote out the other things that needed to be done. Then I just sat down. I read a little. I watched a movie with my husband. I tickled my baby, and I vacuumed the floors (don’t judge- I find that relaxing).

The mundane turned out to be just what we needed. And in the midst of the mundane, we sat and talked about Lee’s dad. We remembered the happy times, and we laughed over some of the funny memories.

Then we imagined heaven and all that Herb must be seeing and experiencing, recognizing that we couldn’t possibly grasp where he is right now.

Yesterday was good. It was slow and boring, and there may have been a little heart healing that took place.

Who says boring is a bad thing?

Flag of Surrender

“A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’ s love by a different name.”

Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

A3

I’m not going to lie – This baby has a very special place inside my heart. Of course, all of my kids hold their own unique place in my memories, and yes, babies are squishy and undeniably irresistible, but still.

There’s something about the last.

A4

I’m really cherishing the moments with Annika. I don’t feel emotional or sappy about her being my last. On the contrary, I feel like I can truly delight in her knowing that she will be my last baby. Last kid forever? Meh…I don’t know. I will never count out the option of adoption for our family.

But last newborn? Last baby to cut teeth and find her voice, and offer baby giggles when you make just the right sound? Yeah, she’s it.

A5

I’m not in a hurry with this one. I’m taking my time, loving every minute I get with her (when she’s not screaming, of course), and I’m slowly figuring her out. I can’t pinpoint her personality just yet. She’s not quite as determined as her sister was, nor is she as fun-loving and happy as Landon. She reminds me of Sloan. Serious. Studying everything and everyone.

A1

And when she decides she wants to give you a smile of encouragement, she does so. If you aren’t really that funny, though, she can make you feel like a bit of a tool for trying.

A6

I’m just really looking forward to watching this one grow up. I know it will go fast – history has proven that to be true. But for now, in this moment, I’m just going to enjoy her. Each stage brings memories of the last three. Each milestone brings an excitement of the fun to come.

We didn’t plan on this one, but goodness, am I glad she’s here. She is my flag of surrender, and when she looks up at me with those big, inquisitive eyes, the burst of love is about all I can handle.

A2

In a time when life feels unpredictable, I’m infinitely thankful for this last baby hurrah. She’s brought a love that is something fierce, and oh so sweet.