Calling all writers and artists who are Christians

The RoadI recently finished reading Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road. It is coming out as a movie in the fall and from what I saw of the trailer it looks amazing. It ranks right up there with my favorite novels by Ernest Hemmingway, Kurt Vonegut, Alan Paton, and Sinclair Lewis.

The Road is set in an apocalpytic setting and tells the story of a father and son on a journey to the sea. It is a classic existential story of survival in a world without hope. There seems to be no point in carrying on but they do because of some vague sense of maybe there is hope but in reality there probably isn’t. They are “good guys” in a world of “bad guys”. The author points out that they carry on because they realize that they “carry the fire” but what that means isn’t really explained. I assume that this means that they understand what it means to be human and how to act like humans do at their best. The problem is that there is no foundation for this sense of what it means to be human. Why don’t they become “bad guys” when survival is so constantly in danger? This humanness at its best really only makes sense in light of God and humans as his image bearers created to love God and love his creation as he would.

My criticism isn’t that The Road takes this secular worldview because what else would you expect from a book by a non-Christian. It is a great book and it simply and profoundly articulates the writers worldview. My issue is with Christian writers and Christian artists as a whole. Why do those of us as redeemed new creations not have a place at the table as great and profound writers and artists? We have the true foundation and right worldview that explains why we should carry on and on why we should have hope and compassion.

I don’t think the main reason is because the world hates Jesus but because we don’t write or create things that truly are worthy of being at the table. We have ghettoized our writing and art to be watered down Amish love stories and pretty lite (light) behind our couch pictures. Our music is pale copycats of what is popular.

Where are the great Christian writers who understand what it means to be human on a muddy messy earth? How many Christian writers, poets, painters, photographers, film makers and musicians are there who understand what it really means to be humans redeemed by the grace of God and who can tell compellingly what it means to live the truly human life as revealed by Jesus in a muddy messy world?

Besides being a great book, The Road, challenged me to take seriously my photography. To take pictures that capture the beauty of God’s creation. To take pictures that capture the detail of his intimate and intricate creation of  all nature. To take pictures of  people fearfully and wonderfully made in his image even when marred by sin, brokeness, oppression and tragedy.

It has also lead me to desire books and poems written, paintings created, films made and songs composed that touch what it means to love God and live as truly human as possible. We can’t settle for watered down fluff that betrays and demeans the God who gave himself to redeem us to himself and to make us alive to live the truly human life of loving his creation the way he would. Write with all you can to the glory of God. Paint and make photos with all you can to the glory of God. Make films with all you can to the glory of God. Compose songs that are creative and moving with all you can to the glory of God. 

We can’t abandon our place at the table we have the only sure hope. We have the gospel that is the only answer to a broken world that is groaning awaiting the revelation of the sons of God. If the world rejects our work it will because the gospel is an offense to those who are perishing not because our work is watered down fluff that looks pretty but has no substance.

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2 responses to “Calling all writers and artists who are Christians

  1. I think what’s important here is the difference between Christian literature and literature by Christians.

    I honestly don’t think I’d want to read a book about what it means to live a truly human life as revealed by Jesus Christ. It sounds like something that would end up on the Lifetime Movie Channel. Besides, I have the Bible for that.

    But, tons of Christians are writing other things. We’re just unaware that the author is Christian because they’re not writing about their beliefs. I don’t think that God would really care whether or not you’re writing about what it means to love him. He’s not that vain and has better things to worry about, like the whole Middle East thing, or where he left the keys to the chariot of fire.

    You can be completely devout, but if what you like to write is whodunnit mysteries, I think God will be okay with that.

    • redkingbookmakers,

      Thanks for your thoughtful response. There are lots of good things that you say that I agree with and I think you captured largely my desire for Christian artists. I apologize if it sounds like I am calling for religious pious devotional literature,that wasn’t my intention. My fatal mistake was to assume that everyone would be able to unpack what I meant in saying, “live a truly human life as revealed by Jesus Christ”.

      To be honest I find richer expamles of what it means to live life as revealed in Jesus in Harry Potter than I do in Amish love stories. Harry is motivated by a passionate love for others, not seeking only what is best for him but what is best for others. He is willing to lay down his life for his friends. He is willing to do what others can’t in order to bring peace. Voldemort is motivated by power and control he wants to dominate and oppress. He is completely self absorbed the exact opposite of what it means to be human as intended and revealed in Jesus. I find clearer examples of what it means to truly be human in “Cry, the Beloved country as well.

      I want to see Christians write and create art that articulates those things but I don’t think it has to be a secret thing where you don’t know they are Christians. Life has meaning, the world isn’t hopeless and what it means to be human only makes sense because God exists and is intimately at work redeeming and restoring a people that depend on him, love him and live not for themselves only but to reveal him in caring for others.

      So yes if you write mystery novels by all means write them and don’t feel obligated to quote bible verses, but feel obligated to write quality mystery novels that see the world as it really is and don’t be afraid to articulate the biblical worldview that recognizes rebellion and selfishness have drastic consequences. Write aware that God is real and the world only makes sense in relationship to him. Write aware that he is inimately concerned and involved in creating a people that depend on him, love him reject the hopeless and self absorbed way of life that we see all around us that creates so much of the oppression, greed and violence that we see in the middle east, in wall street, in NY and LA and in our neighborhoods. Write aware and even if you don’t find it necessary to say those things aloud in the story they should shape your story.

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