Translating the Invisible Wind – Part Two

by Geoff Hall on April 20, 2010

In Part One, we looked at the historical background to the birth of our faith.  We noted that rather than being a time of exile, it was a time of Occupation.  In Jeremiah chapter 29, we have an encouragement for those in exile to ‘build houses, plant gardens, live of the produce, to marry and go forth and multiply. To seek the welfare of the city and through that they will prosper themselves.’  (verses 5-7).  This then is an appropriate understanding of the cultural time with the appropriate cultural response, but this is not ‘our’ contemporary situation.

We often take this encouragement to prosper for ourselves, in our current situation.  There is nothing like the promise of success to inspire us!  However, this is not a time of exile, but of Occupation, similar to the time of the first believers.  Our example of how to live an adequate cultural response is given to us by Jesus, particularly in His storytelling.  With this in mind, what should our response look like in the arts?  Here are a few suggestions.

Another way of looking at Christian Artistry is this,
“The artist has no right to an idea to which [they are] not socially committed, or the realisation of which could involve a dichotomy between [their] professional activity and the rest of [their] life.”  (Andrei Tarkovsky, “Sculpting in Time” 1986, p188.)

Art which is christian in spirit cannot be the art of the double life.  This echoes with the Bonhoeffer quote at the beginning of Part One of this piece, in that his thrust is incarnational.  Don’t self-conceptualise, socialise: flesh it out, let people see it, touch it, appropriate it as a connection with Creation (reality and potentiality) and its Creator and not something which is self-obsessed, as if the artist was somehow divorced, on another plain from it all.  Bonhoeffer tells us.  “The human body…is the form in which the spirit of God exists on earth.”  Drawing an analogy with artistry, “art is the form in which the Spirit of God communicates on earth.”  The medium is the message in the most profound way!

So, what has this to do with Occupation, Resistance and Collaboration?

Occupation – I would contend that this kind of reality demands a different, subversive quality in our art-making.  We need to stop acting like Christendom was still intact, that the world understands proclamation from the Scriptures, that we still have the same socio-cultural clout as in the halcyon days of yore.  This is not so much a post-Christian world, for you and I are still here and have a presence, a voice.  The world will have to come to terms with this!  It is however a post-Christendom world and that is a different thing.  Gone are the days of the edifice, of the moral, spiritual institution, the guiding light for righteous living which everyone clings to.  Should we be worried?  No, but we should realign our hearts and minds, our creativity, our modes of communication and tune-in to this present age.  Whilst we have this ‘voice’, the question remains, ”what kind of a voice should it be”?  MORE TO FOLLOW>>>

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