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Stephen McGarvey Christian Blog and Commentary

Evangelicals Making a Mark in the Arts

Here’s a great piece from AP Religion about Christians who are looking to apply their worldview to the visual arts. Historically, evangelicals have had a shaky relationship with the arts. But more and more these days we are hearing about Christian artists who want to change that. The article features Makoto Fujimura, an abstract painter who lives in New York City and founded the International Arts Movement to help bridge the gap between the religious and art communities. (I interviewed Mako a few years ago for an article on this topic.) From the feature:

By making a name for himself in the secular art world, Fujimura has become a role model for creatively wired evangelicals. They believe that their churches have forsaken the visual arts for too long -- and that a renaissance has begun…  

These artistic evangelicals, though still relatively small in number, are striving to be creators of culture rather than imitators, said Dick Staub, a Seattle-based radio talk show host and author of "The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture In an Age of Christianity-Lite." There is a desire, he said, to avoid inventing a parallel arts universe with Christian knockoffs for Christian audiences.

"They want to make art that connects to everybody," Staub said. "The call is first and foremost to make good art."

The goal according to Staub, Fujimura and others is not to make “religious” art, but to make art informed by their faith, for God’s glory.

Christian institutions of higher learning are increasingly focusing on the arts:

Craig Detweiler, co-director of the… Reel Spirituality Institute [part of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary], said students are fascinated with finding the sacred in the mundane and exploring life's mysteries. In other words, themes with far-reaching appeal.

"Maybe 20 years ago, young filmmakers wanted to tell stories for their own audience," said Detweiler, a screenwriter. "Today's young filmmakers ... find holy moments within mainstream movies and want to create more of the same.

"For too long, Christian art has implied pale imitation," Detweiler said. "We're trying to get back to the days of the Renaissance, where the church was the patron of the finest art."

It’s encouraging to see these efforts catching the attention of the national media. Read the full article: Evangelicals start push in the arts