Finally got my nose back into this book. It’s been a crazy few weeks for me, and its been nice to get back into reading about my passions again. Lets take a look at what I’ve read.
Just because something takes the form of a work of art does not mean that it cannot be factual.
Though art in a general sense is subjective, it doesn’t mean that art cannot contain facts. Let that be clear,
Styles of art form change and there is nothing wrong with this.
Then what about the Christian’s art? Here three things should be stressed. First, Christian art today should be twentieth-century art. Art changes. Language changes. The preacher’s preaching today must be twentieth-century language communication, or there will be an obstacle to being understood. And if a Christian’s art is not twentieth-century art, it is an obstacle to his being heard. It makes him different in a way in which there is no necessity for difference. A Christian should not, therefore, strive to copy Rembrandt or Browning.
…there is no such thing as godly style or ungodly style.
These quotes communicate one of the central ideas of the book. Style is a vehicle. Style can be critiqued, should be critiqued, but one cannot do so under the idea that any style is holier than the other. Yes and amen.
Schaeffer refers to an example of how ones faith can inform the artists style, though. T.S. Elliot’s fragmented poetry became less so when he became a christian. He didn’t abandon the style altogether, but his representation of the fragmented modern man had a different spin as a christian, and because of that his style changed slightly. Its amazing and affirming that faith, worldview, can change not just the message of the work, but the style as well. Very cool.
The form in which a world view is given can either weaken or strengthen the content, even if the viewer or reader does not in every case analyze this completely. In other words, depending upon the vehicle you use, something can come across that an audience does not notice and yet will be moving either in the direction of your world view or away from your world view. One must talk at length with the viewer or reader. And as a Christian adopts and adapts various contemporary techniques, he must wrestle with the whole question, looking to the Holy Spirit for help to know when to invent, when to adopt, when to adapt and when to not use a specific style at all. This is something each artist wrestles with for a lifetime, not something he settles once and for all.
The point he makes here is that the form of the art can either make clear or convolute the message of the work. And that the christian should be careful and discerning of what techniques and forms to use in order to be effective. My thoughts on this are more complicated than a simple agree or disagree.
He is right in that form is an important factor in communication. Most avant-garde pieces are harder to communicate specifics in their form due to their off-beat and challenging natures. This is true. I disagree with the implication behind the statement, and its very weird that he’s said something like this after spending some time in the beginning of the book dispelling this misnomer. Schaeffer is implying, not only that the message should be at the forefront, which some would disagree with, but he is implying that christians should be putting the christian message at the forefront, which I can assume that the message would be the christian gospel. Now, I’m not necessarily against that by itself, but I’m against it if it is only by itself. Does that make sense?
If all I’m doing as an artist is preaching the gospel through my art, am I an evangelist or an artist? Why not be both? Because the best art communicates emotion and questions rather than telling someone what they should think. So. I think that while the gospel certainly has room within an artists repertoire of communicative messages, it’s not effective if that’s all they are saying. Show me who you are, artist, not just what you think is true.
So my reaction to Schaeffer’s comment on form is an interesting one, I agree with the words he said, but from the sense I get behind them, I think he’s implying that christians who are artists should be focusing solely on the christian message, which is not good. There are multiple facets to humanity, why limit what you can say?