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The insidious nature of bad Christian art

The insidious nature of bad Christian art

st_sebastian.jpgWhy bad Christian art is bad for Christians from Ruminate Magazine:

Bad storytelling is bad theology, forwarding an immature view of God, self, and neighbor. And in my case as a creative writing professor, failing to call out bad storytelling is also bad teaching.

“So-called Christian fiction is often in fact pallid allegory, or a form of sermonizing, or is a reduction into formula… sometimes yielding to a Manichean dualism wherein good and evil are plainly at war….We cannot call a fiction Christian just because there is no irreligion in it, no skepticism, nothing to cause offense, for such a fiction, in its evasions, may have evaded, in Karl Rahner’s words, ‘that blessed peril that consists in encountering God.’”

Good stories, on the other hand, are complex, containing rich layers and shades of meaning that aren’t easily exhausted, even by attentive multiple readings. The best stories, as John Gardner famously argued, have a moral dimension; immersive engagement with them helps us grow. In their fidelity to the true and diverse nature of things (especially people), good stories oppose easy “either/or” dichotomies. They develop empathy and compassion in readers by allowing readers to imaginatively inhabit the lives of characters who are different from them in essential ways.

Good art points beyond itself and helps us recognize the human condition and the divine intrusion while calling us to more faithful relationship with the world, relationship that witnesses to the hope and redemption found in the Triune God and offered to us through Christ, the incarnate image that redeems all images grasping for God… Artistic expression is a striving for more, a visual hunger for transcendental realities that can only be shaped out of what has already been given to us, unlike God who creates out of nothing. But like our Creator, such creative shaping can also lead to new realities we can live into.

Read the whole article. What do you think?

image from Ship of Fools: Gadgets for God

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