Thursday, February 19, 2009

Artists In Non-Residence

2/20, PDX!

Where have all the artists gone?

For two decades I have pondered this quote by the late Joseph Sittler whose mind and gift of insight I prize above nearly all others:

In the uses of literature, the uses of art, I find our intellectual obligation being unfulfilled. We simply are not cultivated people in our time. Of the old church an ancient historian said, "The church in the first three centuries won the empire because it outlived, it out-thought, and it outdied the pagan world"--including in intellectual and artistic achievement.

But much of the intellectual and aesthetic life within the contemporary congregation is simply contemptible. . . How is it possible that our church social room should be filled with pictures that are mostly "Kitsch", to use that eloquent German word, when centuries of artists have taken religious symbols and given them eloquent expression?

Take a look at the bulletin covers in your church. Are they stock photos as flavorless as unsalted saltines? Or are they even worse, some of those clip art line drawings that trivialize and demean the breadth and depth of parables, miracles and creation to something bordering on a coloring sheet for pre-schoolers?

Take a good look next time you have a bulletin in you hand. What does it really communicate about the magnitude of God? What does it say about you and your church?

Where have all the artists gone?


Pastor Roger

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