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Transforming Culture: Dangers of Artistic Activity

April 2, 2008

Plenary #4, David Taylor

Super-ordinate Truths. Important to distinguish between “Super-ordinate Truths” and “sub-ordinate truths.” Art is bad art when we get the super-ordinate truths wrong, truths that define the gospel. David did not say what the super-ordinate truths are, which is where we have some debate over artistic expression. He asserted that too often our debate over artistic expression is over matters of culture, not super-ordinate truths. We must guard our hards from the impurity of cultural superiority.

Six Dangers

  1. Bad art is cliche. Anyone can make bad art, but good art requires excellence.
  2. Super-saturation. The rate of artistic saturation is rendering us numb.
  3. Stubbornness. Estancandose Tercamente. “Getting stuck stubbornly.” or “the stubborn ossification of tradition.” The posture of “we’ve always done it this way, often closes God off of his redirecting our faith.
  4. Utilitarian subjugation of art. Art as a strict service to ministry, requiring a bible verse to make it art. Following this line of thinking or creating, eventually your tomatoes will have to be “Christian.”
  5. Art as Escape. Worship is often an emotional escape.
  6. Immaturity. Using art to manipulate or disparage others. abusus non tilit usum” Women and wine are being misused, but what is not being misused.” – Luther

Healthy, Flourishing Artists

  1. Relationally Ordered: we can not have order without relationship or relationship with order to avoid anarchy or isolation. We need ordered relationality between pastors and artists. Ordering things requires intelligence
  2. Contextually Relative: “Artistic excellent if it accomplishes the purpose for which it was created.” – Nick Wolterstorff Sometimes we dont need aesthetic excellence—pastors—kids and untrained adults should be allowed to dance before the congregation. Why? Because the reminds us of Jesus words about children.
  3. Organically Rhythmed : fa spectrum of festal muchness and cleansing simplicity is required. In other words, mix things up in worship and in artistic expression. This ryhthm will help us fight off super-saturation.

In the church, artists are part of our family, the great family of Jesus. Learn from them. Struggle with them. Embrace them. Fail humbly in community.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2008 1:07 am

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for allowing us to glean so much from this conference. I appreciate your posts, as always.

  2. April 3, 2008 5:04 am

    Hey JR!

    Good to hear from you. Wish you could be here; you would love it!

  3. April 8, 2008 7:47 am

    I’m looking forward to knowing how to better equip and encourage the artists in my church. This was helpful; probably Begbie’s book would be good resource for me and them?

  4. April 8, 2008 10:44 am

    Yes, though in my brief reading the book is not as accessible as you might want or need for that kind of thing.

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