When Christians Disagree About Art

CS Bad Art.jpg
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(Read Dick’s response to Alex Kendrick’s Christianity Today online interview, Staub, Kendrick, the CT Interview: Facing the Truth.)

What should Christians do when they disagree about a piece of art?

This question is fresh on my mind because I’ve received a lot of emails from people upset that I dared to rate “Facing the Giants” as artistically “good” but not great on a scale of good-better-best¢â‚¬¦

The one thing we shouldn’t be asked to do is to say something is great JUST because it is made by a Christian¢â‚¬¦And that is often what Christians ask me to do¢â‚¬¦

Here is a typical email: “Christianity gets enough attacks from non believers. God does not need you to attack his faithful.”

My comments about “Facing the Giants” aren’t about the faith of the filmmaker¢â‚¬¦
I am expressing my opinions about the artistic merits of the art¢â‚¬¦

Art is always open to evaluation and it happens at different levels.

First there is the matter of opinion¢â‚¬¦

Here’s the story of a restaurant critic visiting Paul Newmans new Restaurant–

PAUL NEWMAN led me to the deck of his new restaurant, behind the famous old theater that his wife, Joanne Woodward, helped save. He put his arm around my shoulder and pointed to the side of the building. “Now, what do you think of the color?” he asked.

It was green. Kind of a bad, bilious green. But do you tell Paul Newman, 81 and still racing cars, that his latest obsession suffers from a bad paint job./ Maybe he hand-picked the color. Maybe his wife did. Maybe he’s colorblind. Or maybe and please let this be so maybe he hates it, too.

“I hate it?”

“Exactly!’ he said. “Me, too.”

Everybody is entitled to their personal opinion about art and our opinions about a work of art should not be affected by whether or not the artist is a Christian. Just because you are a Christian and a filmmaker doesn’t make your film good and not all great films are written and produced by Christians.

This is why CS Lewis insisted that we don’t need more Christian writers we need more great writers who are Christians.

Second we should understand that evaluating art is not just a matter of opinion.

Daniel Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

The Museum of Bad Art in Boston was started with one painting was pulled from a trash pile on a Boston street. Critics and mere mortals alike agree that the painting is really bad… (Picture above–note the odd placement of the legs and the grandmother’s face, which bears a strange resemblance to Norman Mailer)

If a soloist sings off pitch, it is verifiable. You are either on pitch or not.If an illustrator draws a line that is supposed to be straight it is either straight or it isn’t¢â‚¬¦

People who love art care about such things¢â‚¬¦

I think we can argue God does too.

At the end of every day of creation God saw what He had made and said it was good.

In Jesus first miracle, when he turned the water into wine¢â‚¬¦it wasn’t just an old wine¢â‚¬¦It was the BEST wine¢â‚¬¦.Everybody at the party said so.

Can God use art even if it isn’t the best? Absolutely!

God does it everyday!

Each of us bring our loaves and fishes such as they are, and ask God to multiply them¢â‚¬¦

Just because “Facing the Giants” isn’t the best art doesn’t mean God can’t use it… and there is a lot of evidence that He is using it.

But that does not mean we should not aspire to make the best films¢â‚¬¦
And it doesn’t mean we should call a good film great art when it isn’t.

If you hate the color of green the painter chose¢â‚¬¦

Tell him¢â‚¬¦

Even if he is a Christian!

Posted in Staublog in September 27, 2006 by | No Comments »

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