Art Needs No Justification…NOT!

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The very fact that Hans Rookmaaker said, “Art needs no justification” provides ample evidence that for many people Art DOES need justification.

This crossed my mind while meeting with a dear friend, full of strategic insight, evangelist, missiologist AND lover of ideas and the arts. The occasion of our meeting was a review for critique of the plan I am laying out for CFC.

I am about to embark on the biggest project of my life as expressed through our small but promising Center for Faith and Culture. (CFC). This is going to take a lot of money, over a million dollars in the next 27 months. Our mission is currently stated as follows: CFC’s mission is to contribute to a renaissance of faith and culture by: Understanding faith and culture, and interpreting each to the other; creating and distributing media inspiring everyday humans to reach their spiritual, intellectual, moral and creative potential in daily life; helping the next generation do the same.”

I read the CFC mission to him.

At this point my friend looked at me as if I were from Mars and said something like, “for the average Joe in the pew this is way too theoretical–he’s not going to get it¢â‚¬¦and if he doesn’t get it he’s not going to give you money for it!” Then he moved in for the kill. “What’s the idea worth dying for here?”

This irritated me because he and I agree that the “easy fundraising” has traditionally done for “evangelism” because it, after all, has eternal consequences. In a rare (but becoming less rare) display of intemperate speech, I blurted out,” why evangelize the world if it is just going to end up like so-called ‘Christian America,’ spiritually, intellectually, morally, aesthetically shallow and bankrupt?”

I told this story to my eighty+ year-old dad yesterday and he stopped me and said, “the typical person won’t know what aesthetic means.”

I feel like Job, except, thank God, I still have my family, a roof over my head and a clean pair of Wrangler jeans.

For me it is self-evident that, as Flannery O’ Conner said, if all we knew about God was Genesis 1, all we would know is “God the Great Artist!” It is self-evident that if we are created in the image of God, who is intelligent & creative, we ought to display that in our life and work as evidence of our love for God–heart and mind. None of this seems peripheral or “optional choice” to me, but seems to be in a post-Fall Christianity so focused on redemption it has forgotten creation, so focused in heaven it has forgotten here and now and the qualitative life of God’s kingdom, which Jesus said has begun on earth.

I’ve gotta run. Thanks for listening. I’ll close with the same four words Rookmaaker uttered in closing his short “art needs no justification.”

“Weep, pray, think and work.”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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