Which a moment’s reflection would show, is very odd. Because, before the last half century, any artistic contribution only made sense with a Christian content or background. Even those who reacted against it, knew what they were reacting against.
In fact, you can make a strong case that we cannot read that culture without knowing the Christian narrative. I remember watching an opera with some friends, as forgiveness and redemption played out with the background of Easter Sunday. In front of 3000 people. How many of them understood what they watched and heard?
- One reason for our present invisibility might be that we are being deliberately ignored.
- Another might be that what we are producing is trivial, and not worth reviewing.
- Yet another might be that we’ve stopped producing anything. Once, we managed the Sistine Chapel, Handel’s Messiah and The Faerie Queen. Now, we’ve stopped.
- A fourth might be that we have lost the language of how to discuss these things. You know how hard it is to describe a smell? I suspect we find it as hard to discuss a painting or a ballet, at least in Evangelical circles. Possibly because it’s hard to do. And possibly because we think it’s not appropriate things to do.
Politically and socially, we have bemoaned the evangelical absence from the Public Square. We have fought, and continue to fight for, the right to be heard in politics and social debate. Rightly so.
But have we colluded in our disappearance from the artistic public square? Have we stopped filling the blank canvases?
So let’s begin by collecting some information, and I’d love you to join in the comments below:
Who are the Christian artists you’re aware of? Novelists, playwrights, poets, painters, photographers, sculptors, musicians – let’s get some names together
Who are the Christians who have written about beauty or aesthetics? Again, let’s kick off a list. And we won’t commit the ‘chronological fallacy’ which is that only our contemporaries matter.
What are the possible causes for our apparent invisibility at the moment?
Please join in.
And in the next few posts I’ll begin to sketch in what might be an outline theology of beauty. Aston Martins, Elgar, the Shard, Cezanne – what do you find beautiful, and why?