Sunday, August 14, 2005

High art and the least of these

Some thoughts...a question...As I enter more fully back into my job at Asbury, the Lord has softened my heart even more for this community. I am overwhelmed sometimes with the desire to pray for reconciliation between people and groups here at the seminary. And I feel much more solidified and encouraged in my call to explore how the arts can be used in this process, both in personal and corporate Christian formation. My heart has shifted (which I view as a praise in many ways) from the mindset of "high art" to a goal of discipleship and formation. I desire to see relationships formed and renewed through God's manifesting Himself in our creativity. And in this renewal process, to see God's presence be made more real to those in need in other parts of the world. In this, comes a heart to see those who have never thought themselves creative begin to experiment and participate in the arts as a means of worship, toward justice, mercy and a fuller relationship with Christ. In this is the destruction of the idea of "art for arts sake" with the rise of art for the Kingdom of God. My question, or questions, are these: How does this goal continue in the purity of the Gospel and inclusiveness of Christ without risking cheapening art? Is it worth the risk? Is the heart all that matters behind the work? What is the place of art criticism in a Christian community? What about "high art"? What should our standards of excellence be, and how should they be different than the art world's standards? If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Our Covering

I've been back in Kentucky from Vancouver now for a week, and I've had some time to reflect on what happened while in Canada. I think beyond anything art-related, the main thing that happened was a deepening of my covering in the Lord. Some friends have been praying the Ephesians 3 prayer for me this summer, that I might be made strong in my inner being and be able to comprehend with all the saints the HUGENESS of God's love. It covers us. That is what happened, as I created paintings and read books and made new friends, this is what the Lord was doing. It was a trust process.

God also used images of being under His feathers and His being my dwelling place (Ps. 91). This idea of "dwelling" just keeps coming back, and I am reminded of the tent theme I blogged about before. My friend Katie and I were talking today about a friend serving in Zimbabwe. Many of the homes of the people our friend is ministering to have been burned to the ground because of a government policy which seeks to "renew" the area. She described the children whose families had worked so hard to attain a hut which was then burned down. The children now sleep on their mattresses next to the ash heaps. They lost their tangible covering. But so many of them understand what it is to be "covered"-- to be dwelling in Christ-- so much more than I ever could. They KNOW His love. Praise God that He seeks to help us to dwell in Him more deeply, that He may dwell more fully and abundantly in us.

So, reflecting on the struggles of faith and creativity that birthed this new depth and expanse of His Covering in my life, I ask you to join in prayer for those whose struggles are much greater, especially the displaced families of Zimbabwe.