Monday, February 1, 2010

Channels to the Heart. . . .

We need good art. . . . something better than the simple pictures on Sunday School papers, the kitschy stuff that all too often fills the walls of the local Christian book store, or the me-centered music marked by repetition that fails to take us more deeply into an awe-filled understanding of who God is. . . and who we are in light of that reality. We've set the bar far too low, and I think we pay for it in a variety of ways.

My friend Ned Bustard, in his book It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, says this: "As believers making art to the glory of God, goodness is not merely something to strive for in our morality, but is also something we should attempt to communicate through our aesthetic efforts. Portraying 'good' well, however, is excruciatingly difficult. The efforts of most artists who attempt to present a picture of 'good' tend toward dishonest, sugary sweet propaganda. They ignore the implications of the fall, and paint the world as a shiny, happy place." Sadly, a slew of forces and experiences combined in my own young life to leave me with a less than accurate understanding of what makes art "good." Gladly, I think things have turned around - at least I hope so! - and I've been learning.

My weekend was filled with artistic expressions old and new that qualify as "good." And as good art does, these expressions cut straight to my heart, challenging my faulty assumptions about life and driving home things that are good, true, right, and honorable.

First was Tim Frost and his email to me about a painting commissioned by Scotty Smith. Dan Arms' "God's Story" captures the realities of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration in thought-provoking and joy-inducing ways that I've never seen before. I will be staring at this one over and over again for a long time. With so many other stories jockeying for my attention and allegiance, this constant visual reminder will serve me well.

Then there was my long-overdue trip to see The Book of Eli. My son Nate saw the film on its first weekend. He came home raving. . . telling me that we had to go see it together. He wondered what I would think. After a couple weeks of daily badgering, I finally carved out time to see the film with Nate. I don't want to say too much, if anything at all about the film. I will say, however, that I was blown away. It's a must-see that says so much about our culture, our commitments, Creation, Fall, and Redemption. It's about truth. . .it's about the Story. Thanks, Nate.



Finally, there was yesterday's worship service and a 300-year-old piece of work that I'm sure many would write-off as "boring" and "irrelevant." Not for me. Singing Samuel Rodigast's "Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right" offered perspective and refreshment as the message of the Book of Eli and the realities of life in my story (as God works out His story) were fresh on my mind. Truth - deep, lasting, and life-giving truth - from the Book.

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Holy His will abideth
I will be still whate’er He does,
And follow where He guideth
He is my God, Though dark my road
He holds me that I shall not fall
Wherefore to Him I leave it all

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
He never will deceive me
He leads me by the proper path,
I know He will not leave me
I take, content, what He hath sent
His hand can turn my griefs away
And patiently I wait His day

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Though now this cup in drinking
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it all unshrinking
My God is true, each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
And pain and sorrow shall depart

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Here shall my stand be taken
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken
My Father’s care is round me there
He holds me that I shall not fall
And so to Him I leave it all


This is the kind of stuff I want my kids to know, appreciate, process, and learn from. This is the kind of good art we need.

4 comments:

patty kachs said...

I saw what you did to prevent further comments by certain contributors on your Jan.15th post. A friend at work turned me on to your site specifically due to their thought-provoking comments. They were much more interesting than those from your usual lackeys. Shame on you!

Walt Mueller said...

Thanks for your comment Patty. We simply decided to eliminate the "anonymous" comments. As always, anyone is welcome to post their comments.

patty kachs said...

Walt, your response is very misleading. Now people cannot post anonymously, OR by a black byname. A significant change. To post now, one must have a Google or OpenID account.

In fact, if this policy was in place prior to Jan.15th we would have missed out on a very interesting back and forth between several contributors with black bynames.

HOWEVER, even though my girlfriend and I are both disappointed you made this change,as we think the comment section will be nowhere near as stimulating, we greatly admire you for not deleting certain previously posted strongly worded comments (including mine). It showed a certain masculinity, strength, and self-assuredness. We both think it is quite attractive!

marie said...

Patty took the words out of my mouth. Those comments that always praise you are great for your ego, but do absolutely nothing for the rest of us.

For the first time I found the comments challenging in trying to determine which were most biblically correct. They were quite a refreshing addition to you posts. They allowed us to use your 3(D) thinking process to come to our own conclusions as adults.

I also thought that in allowing them,it was very Jesus-like, and said such about you.

P.S. To all you anonymous and black byname contributors,it was great while it lasted. Thanks for your contribution.

P.S.S. Linda F.,may I suggest you follow up with pastoral counseling. It was obvious that doing the right thing was so important to you. I really admire that. Good luck.