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Baking Chris’ Idea Some More

May 19, 2007
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Chris wrote about the “Christian” market, what with Christian music, Christian video games, Christian movies, and so forth.  In general, a lot of Christian artists have sequestered themselves into a separate community, which produces what typically ends up being inferior art.  I believe he is right to ask “where have all the Christian artists gone?”  One only has to look back in Christian history to see great works done by Christians for general cultural consumption.  The great European church buildings are a prime example of this, as are the paintings by many medieval artists who were Christians.  Bach produced very Christian art for the general public as well.

One of the reasons I think this happens is the secularization of our culture over the past 100 years or so.  The culture was nominally Christian in the West from the medieval days until around the turn of this century (this is a VERY rough retelling of history).  Because of this, there was no felt need by Christians to create this seperate art culture.  Now that the common culture is more non-Christian than it has been for a long time in the West, Christians struggle with how to engage it in an artistic fashion.  It is very tempting to join the Christian enclave and simply produce art there, where they are essentially in a less crowded market.  It is HARD to compete for recognition among the larger culture, and most good Christian artists decide to fall back on the thought of “well, at least I can get noticed in the Christian art community”.

An example of Christian culture just aping secular culture is the plethora of Christian brand t-shirts.  The Coca-Cola shirts that actually say that Christ is Lord, or the Lord of All Things in the Lord of the Rings font shirt.  Why not create a unique design that says something Christian.  This was cute ten years ago (well, longer ago than that, because I remember having issues with it then), but now it is just old and not creative.

Thus, we get Christian movies that vastly inferior to anything put out by the secular community.  We have Christian artists who ape the musical style of everyone else.  I would love to see Christian art come to the forefront of the culture as art, not just as “Christian art”.  Christians seem to be getting better with movies: Amazing Grace was a great effort by someone I think was a Christian director.  The fact that it was better than some secular movies was saying something.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2007 2:05 pm

    Yes, Christians need to be creative and create new things. So find the ones who are creative and encourage them. We can spend a lot of time dishing those who are working, or we can go out and find new talent.

    Let’s also not go so far as to say that “Christian movies [are]…vastly inferior to anything put out by the secular community.” Have you been to a Blockbuster lately? Have you turned on a TV lately? There is bad stuff everywhere. The truth is that the really bad secular stuff doesn’t make it to a theater or TV – it sits on the shelves at your local drug store or video rental place.

    The challenge is that any Christian who makes art puts themselves out for a lot of scrutiny – and we want them to be instantly great and perfect. When do they get a chance to grow? where is their opportunity to learn as an artist?

  2. May 20, 2007 3:01 pm

    Hrmmmm, maybe I was a bit harsh there. You also have a good point about all the bad secular movies – there are many. I guess I didn’t make it clear enough that this was much more of a problem in the past – Christian movies, at least, are getting better. There are still bad Christian movies out there, but there are much better movies coming out too, and I am grateful for that.

  3. Zak Kanoff permalink
    May 21, 2007 10:34 am

    This is something that has interested me very much lately. Actually I think that Chris might have been the one who set me thinking about it. I have never really listened to music that is part of the “Christian Music Industry” but I do listen to Christian artists in the secular music industry (they aren’t as scarce as you make it seem).
    If one likes country music, there are many many country artists who seem to be Christians. The best example of a Christian Artist coming up with their own unique sound and making it in the secular music industry is Nickel Creek, they have some songs with overt Christian messages (The Hand Song) but they do not produce music only for Christians.

  4. June 23, 2007 8:56 am

    i haven’t listened to or watched or read or bought anything from mainline christian artist (other than redone hymnals) in over 5 years…i buy books off my churches bookstall (which is most defintily not christian mainline) and borrow books and read and listen to non christian artists and authors. i think mainline christian books are responsible for dumbing down of american christianity and our lack of ability to discern good from evil…

  5. October 22, 2007 1:52 pm

    Since you’ve been asking for one, a new movie named Bella (www.bellathemovie.com) is opening in limited release Oct 26. Theme of Christian love in today’s society. The director, producer and actors have put it all out there to deliver an uplifting message of unconditional love.

    This film has NOT been bankrolled by the Hollywood poison machine, and was not even picked up by a major national distributor – even after WINNING the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. So it’s clear that Hollywood is not supporting the message of Christ’s love.

    Let’s get out there and support these young men who are sticking their necks out for Almighty God!

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