Derek Martin, director of the Theatre program at Jessup, joins Mark and Rex to discuss the precarious landscape of Christian aesthetics. In other words, the trio discusses why sometimes Christians make bad art.
Welcome to Jessup think I’m your host, Mark Moore and your co host, Rex Gurney. And Rex on the show today, we have Derrick Martin, kind of the head of our theater program here Jessup. Back on the show, he’s a good friend of the show and our critic extraordinary Exactly. And we’re going to be talking about Christian aesthetics. Right. And that by aesthetics, we mean, how you appreciate art, and appreciate beauty, appreciate truth. And we’re going to be looking at kind of maybe this disparity sometimes between Christian art, and what some people would just call regular art. And as if there’s some distinction Exactly. And so we kind of want to explore that, and explore some ways as Christians that we can, that we can be critical, and we can engage. But we can also enjoy art. I think it’ll be a great conversation. Hope you enjoy.
Alright, Rex and Derek. So there was a movie that recently came out, I think it was kind of released kind of, it’s kind of been hitting the kind of festival. I haven’t seen it in the multiplex yet. No definitely hasn’t been in the multiplex yet. Haven’t haven’t seen at least around here, haven’t seen around here maybe have to drive over to San Francisco to see it. But it is a movie is called faith based the movie. And it is a spoof, or a parody on Christian films, made by to two actors, wrote it, Luke Barnett, and then Tanner Thomason, and it is it kind of follows them. And it actually has some, some pretty big star, some comedians in it, Margaret chosen it. And it follows them they want to get in the movie business, but they just been having flop after flop. And then they realize, or they get instruction actually from I think Jason Alexander. So from Seinfeld, fame, another, he gives them the idea that they could make a faith based film, because even if it’s a terrible movie, it’ll still Christians will still buy it. So that’s kind of the whole premise of and then the movie they create is just outlandish. And it kind of has all of these elements that, but it’s a really interesting critique of kind of Christian film. And I think we could even pull it back and kind of Christian art, you know, because it’s kind of this idea that, hey, even if it’s bad art, Christians will still buy exactly a commentary on whether it’s, it’s, you know, fair or unfair about Christian taste,
right. And the interesting thing about that whole thing is that we I mean, just from a marketing standpoint, you know, every like, I don’t know, 10 years or so Hollywood, discovers that Christians go to the movies, right? Yeah. And then they forget about it. And then about 10 years later, they’ll they’ll discover it again. And so we’ll, you know, there’ll be stuff that’s marketed to us, right, because we’re a demographic and we are a pound demographic. Right. You know, it’s kind of hard to be thought of as a interest group and a demographic I guess we are.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that the studios have started to come up with face faith based sections of their studios, because the demographic has deep pockets and actually can fund entire studio. Right. So that’s kind of an interesting, there is a very much an economic piece at play.
Yeah. And it’s kind of and that’s where I think this movie kind of highlights both of those. Exactly. They want to make a buck. Yeah, there’s there’s a economic side of it. But then it also seems to highlight and that’s kind of what we want to talk today about, you know, in an episode, we kind of want to look at Christian aesthetics, right, like, what, what, what makes good art what, what makes, or how can we approach kind of aesthetic appreciation? And and the question seems to be at least within, you know, the last maybe 100 years, maybe even shorter, maybe last 50 years of Christian art seems to be that, that we haven’t been making the most top quality art. What makes you think that I know and I’m not? And again, I don’t think it’s it’s meant to be critical or, or or judgmental. I guess it I think it is meant to be critical. But it does seem to be I mean, it kind of begs that question. It’s like, hey, yeah, Christians do go to the movies, right? And we do. But but it also can be I mean, it’s kind of like I mean, even pop music, kind of sometimes pop music. People just follow a formula and they can make money doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the greatest music that has ever been written. But that seems to be happening within the church and so won’t come To explore that, like, what do you think some reasons for? For maybe Christian art? Not always kind of producing the most aesthetically pleasing?
Well, you know, I, I think there are there are a couple of issues at play. But I think one of the main issues if I was gonna put it together is that Christianity is not a genre. It’s a worldview. Oh, yeah. And we’ve created it into this very artificial genre. Yeah. And I think that’s one of the main reasons I think another reason and it plays into that, is that, you know, you look at propaganda. And a lot of times what Christian art is, is a, like a movie, sometimes a song painting, whatever, that then a message is applied to it. Yeah. You know what I mean? Yeah. not recognizing the fact that a work of art already has a message, or implicitly built into it. Right. Right. And, and I think it for me, what would be better is instead of I mean, I think Listen, a when you’re, when you’re talking about poor quality stuff, it’s very easy, especially if you’re me, who talks about Christian aesthetics all the time and deals with this? And yeah, has been fighting for quality stuff everywhere. poor quality stuff everywhere. The reality is that it’s not just a Christian. Yeah, that’s not exclusively a Christian problem. It is true. I think that’s important to be fair. Yeah. Yeah, I think that is fair. But on the other side, you go, Okay, well, if we believe excellence is a value to God, and our work should be excellent. Then, in my estimation, the best work coming out of the arts field should be coming out of
Christians should Yeah, should be should be ahead of the head of the game instead of following, following along behind exam chasing fads. What one way to talk about that is, I I’ll ask my students, sometimes, when we’re talking about this stuff is like, does this confessional intent override artistic quality? which is sort of another way of saying they can be a crappy movie, a crappy song, a crappy piece of artwork, or whatever. But if the message is somehow I don’t know, honor honoring Jesus, right, yeah, then that sort of okay. Yeah. And it’s really interesting, the theological weight we put in, in our artistic sensibilities, because that’ll happen to right even in different sort of strains of Protestantism. So, you know, mainline Protestantism, for lack of a better word, we kind of know what we’re talking about, has often sort of elevated classical art or the classical arts is most glorifying to God. And, and, and then sort of evangelical Christianity has sort of gone the popular route. Right? Right. And, and both of them will basically, you know, take potshots at each other, for not actually, you know, honoring God with what they’re doing on one side, it’s like, well, you know, what’s he singing this hymn? If it’s a great art song, but nobody can sing it? Maybe it’s interesting, musically, but if nobody can see in the congregation, what do you do? Right, right. Yeah. And on the other side, it’s like, well, you know, you’re singing the same five words, and two chords, and every single song you’re saying, so that the battle just goes back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth. And they put theological weight on it. It’s like, once glorifying God and what’s not,
you know, when we, when we talk in, in some of my classes about aesthetics and doing aesthetic analysis, as a Christian, how do you approach art? You know, one thing I talk about is value theory, which is basically the concept that if you look at the aesthetics of something, you can then assume the values behind those things is every aesthetic choice comes out of a value or belief. In turn, you can also see where there’s aesthetic, or value theory dissonance by looking, you know, so I once went to a church, it had kind of mustard colored walls on the inside. It was a small, you know, 70% evangelical church. And I grew up in that church. Come on. All right, well, next it had you know, I’m kind of curtains that on the windows that looked like they took an 80 year old woman’s dress and cut them into curtain. That was my grandma’s dress. I’m gonna I’m gonna continually Yeah. And then it had pews that were broken, but they had to be there because there are pews. And they they made a statement once where they said, We want this church to be the most kid friendly church. Oh, yeah. Right. And I went, well, you know, you have a dissonance issue and we’re missing some aspects. Right. And I think that that is that’s that’s kind of neat. It’s an easy tool. It’s a relatively easy tool that anyone can use. The hard part is people often jump to the end. Like when you say, for instance, I once did this where we showed like a Catholic Church, and I said, Tell me the ascetic choices that are being made, and someone went stifling. You know, and I went, Whoa, okay, well, you just jumped to pass the aesthetic now, right? And you’re just applying what your own feelings about this are right? Like, let’s talk about it. So for instance, it’s like you see, everything’s very vertical. You know, there’s instead of a stage your eyes go somewhere, your eyes go somewhere, there’s there’s art adorning everything the
real essential thing to this, like, it’s visual. Yes. It’s olfactory. Yeah, yeah. And
so I feel like if you if you start to apply some analysis tools, like the, that’s one value theory, you can start to get to, okay, how do we accurately now portray our values and beliefs? Now that we understand how that people will interpret I mean, this is the big thing we say, with text analysis as a director and theater and looking at film you go, if you even a non choice is a choice, and somebody is going to interpret that choice. So you, you really can’t have the excuse of just saying, Oh, I didn’t really make a choice here, you have to actually be really intentional. I think even more so where we have intentional spaces. I think we have a very weak theology of space in the evangelical world. Yeah. You know, you look at the buildings, mostly it’s a warehouse. Right? And that does speak, Evaluate the Value, right? So that’s one two, I would say another interesting tool would be the, you know, does it expose or exploit sin? You know, you look at a piece of art, you just kind of balance, what’s the truth and live balance in this piece? Every piece because it’s filtered through humans, is going to have a balance of truth in life. Right, because of the film. I mean, and this is the big mistake we often make about the church with aesthetics, or with artistry, is we look for appeal, we want the pure holy kind of creation, I’m like, well, you picked the wrong vehicles to create this, then, because we have a sin issue, right, following this issue. And I think it comes to the art itself is just an expression of what it means to be human, I would say, in light of a creator, you know, the Christian says what what it means, but it’s still that humaneness kind of filters it out throughout. So those are just some tools when you’re looking at this stuff that I think as a church, if we were to apply some of these things, it takes a little more brainpower when you’re engaging art. Right, right. And to be honest with you, at the end of the day, sometimes I just like, personally to go watch movies where things blow up. Yeah, it doesn’t matter about the aesthetic value. I just want to see things but I don’t know, that just feels right. It’s and that’s some brokenness and right, yeah, there you go. We’ll have that conversation later.
Yeah. But I think to written right, the beginning, I think he made a really good point that I had not thought of that, I think helps categorizes when we turn Christianity into a genre. It makes it like it’s separate from Oh, so you have drama, you have comedy, and you have Christian films. And it’s neither comedy nor drama. Yeah. It’s a tragedy. But yeah, and that’s so true. Like, it’s, it’s now like, even if studios have their own segment, like a there’s hard, that’s our faith based segment. That is that that does kind of separate it from taking this kind of worldview that could be told in a drama, and a drama, or a comedy, or even a rom com. I don’t know, you know, like, but I think that’s a good way to a viewer, because we’ve kind of turned it into its own genre. Therefore, the film or the book, or the piece of art has to has to kind of propagate a certain message to to maintain its Christian genre, rather than just its genre and has truth. And then that message is there because it’s a work of art. Well, there’s a book, I think that all three of us have read and actually use. The title of the book actually addresses that whole issue by Frank Brown, good taste, bad taste, and Christian tastes as if that’s a tertium quid. You know, over there on its own, I remember, I had a T shirt once when I lived in Oakland. I haven’t thought about this. But it had a circle on it. And it said heaven in hell it off to the side is said Oakland. Something in a category. So Christian taste is somewhere out there. Yes. Right. Yeah. Like it’s some it’s separate from your good taste.
And of course, the books about trying to you know, explode that misconception. Right. Yeah. Right.
Yeah. And, and you also kind of, I think, brought up something good Derrick, that I’ve kind of noticing that there does seem to be a difference in aesthetics in the Christian world, maybe depending on your background and denomination, though. Yeah, it seems like especially older or maybe what we would call more high church ideas, and especially within the Catholic Church, they’re very conscious of, of the visuals and everything that leads us to God. And I think it’s important for us, in the evangelical world to to be more thoughtful about that, you know, and it is kind of interesting, if you look at most of our places of worship. They’re not necessarily adorned with art and things like that, but rather, it is all kind of blacked out and focused in on a stage. Yeah. And it’s like, Yeah, what, what?
We’ll have some traveling evangelists. So we’ll come in and will paint, paint a picture while he’s doing a sermon. Yeah, go and turn it around. It’s like, Oh, it’s Jesus. I didn’t see that.
But then it’s like this, there’s a whole side to that where you’re going is so our artistry is, is more of a gimmick. I mean, you know, in that kind of brings, there’s nothing wrong. I think the thing is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that either. Right, right, is that what I think would be interesting is if we as Christians, instead of looking to and I don’t think there’s anything wrong necessarily with Christian or even though I think the quality is bad. I think there’s a time and a place for that in effect, it’s like the same reason that people like lifetime movies and hallmark movies. Yeah. You go like there’s a plate it edifies people there’s something in Frank
brown actually actually speaks about them. When he says what happens when the thirst for God is expressed, artistically through kitsch. Okay, ah forces us to raise the questions of quality because no one thinks about kitsch, including religious kitsch without thinking that is, in some sense, bad art, or somehow in bad taste. But kitsch is, by no means unappealing. Indeed, that seems to be part of the problem. It is art that appeals to many people, but for reasons that others find objectionable. And while various sophisticated people enjoy kitsch, in some fashion, even while recognizing it as kitsch, like the ironic sort of view of it. Most people who think kitsch is good to do not think of it as kitsch at all to them. It is ideal art, usually well crafted, and generally heartwarming, filled with memories and dreams. And I don’t know who actually wrote about this that I stole, but I remember one author talking about popular art, especially popular art that we tend to consume as Christians a lot as trafficking in nostalgia. And that’s a really interesting thing. And then, of course, there’s different ways you can go about talking about that, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Yeah, and what kind of theological implications that has,
when it’s kind of like, kind of like, Christmas movies, where most of it is it doesn’t necessarily have to be a good movie to be a Christmas movie. But if it has a bit traffics that nostalgia, people may may watch it and and hallmark, hallmark, Hallmark 365 Days of Christmas 300. Yeah, well,
we can we can kind of get it closer to home here. We can talk about a Thomas kincade painting. Sure. And painter, painter of light painter of light. Yeah, with a trademark are so often asked to. So name one contemporary Christian artists like painter. And of course, the only one anybody can think of would be tomsky. Right. So we’ll put a representative Thomas kincade. And painting up there. Right. Yeah. And and we’ll talk about the fact that the the critical reception in the wider critical artistic community and his reception among well, Christians that would buy his stuff. Yeah, right. Either prints are on pillows, or on cross stitch things. And everything was very, very different. And we tend to invest emotional stuff in that it’s like, you know, well, critics if they don’t like this, or if they have anything to say about this is because they’re anti christian, because we’ve so identify our tastes with this. And so, so you get emotional. I mean, I feel you’re being attacked. And so I try to, I try to avoid those conversations about it, and just have them sort of look at look, look at the painting. It’s like so why, and it’s not just we or us that like it and buy it, but I’ll just, I’ll just use those terms. It’s like, why did why do we like it? And I actually, you know, talk about myself. And so why am I drawn to this, you know, there’s this path and it’s just rained, and there’s this cabin, and there’s lights on it, and there’s smoke there. And I look at that, and it reminds me of home and and i know what’s in there, and it’s warm, and there’s probably an apple pie baking and everything and so it it makes me feel good. And it brings me to this sense of nostalgia and and he’s very good at that. Yeah, absolutely. No, very good Craftsman at that. Right and and if it’s something that that draws people in, it draws To me and to the interesting thing about it is that I’m being strategic for something that I’ve never experienced in my life. Yeah, isn’t an interest, which is really interesting, right? But I’ll have students that will push back on me with that. Actually, this is the kind of way we set this whole thing of the class anyways. And they’ll say, Well, yeah, well, maybe you never had, but actually, isn’t that sort of a nostalgia for the garden? Yeah. And you could look at it that way, too. So there’s, there’s all kinds of ways you can look at this stuff as just algae as being a negative thing or a false thing, or actually a theologically important thing.
Yeah. And I think there, and I think there’s room for all kinds of types of art. You know, I think there is room and I think, you know, one of the big lies, I think that the the contemporary art world would tell you is like, you know, that pain is like one of the highest forms of artistry. And it’s not to say that, you know, the funny thing is, it’s not to say that there that it isn’t that there isn’t some artistry or that there isn’t truth. I mean, I think truth is, you know, when we’re looking at things like beauty, and you’re looking at things like art, truth is a really good marker right? of what’s going on in right. to kind of jump on to the Thomas kincade thing. What’s really interesting as of course, his life, right says something very different than his pieces, right. And then on top of that, he has some pieces that people don’t know about, as that aren’t as well known. Yeah, that are really interesting. For instance, he did a portrait of Jesus, which is in a impressionistic style, which was very rare for him. He didn’t do a lot of Impressionism. But this is an a very intense and presses, very modeled, paint brushes, wide, fat, paint strokes, and it has an orange. It just, it looks like Jesus is in pain he’s on he’s obviously he’s got the crown of thorns. It’s a very painful painting. And it’s a really unique piece, because it’s Yeah, completely opposite. If it makes you feel very uncomfortable, right? And it’s so different than Thomas kincade. Usual work. Right. Right. And so I just I find it easily. Interesting that you go, Okay, so with Thomas kincade, was he going to his happy place that was helping him get through live? And what was the background for why he created what Right,
right. And then he went Disney on us. And then he went, which is, I guess a good thing, because I’ve heard that Disney, Disney, this is next to godliness.
I’m sure there are many people who would agree with that. Disney does Disney really well. That is very true. And that I mean, I think that brings up a good kind of point. And and we can kind of understand that there are so many different perspectives on art, and what is good art, bad art. And this conversation is not just a Christian conversation, right? It’s all over the world of what is high art? What is low art, pop art, versus, you know, there’s more refined? Are people really like if something must be wrong? Yeah, exactly. And so, and I think for me, probably, like, my maybe big quantum was kind of Christian art of the last 50 years, or, sadly, I guess, my lifetime that it all went downhill born and just come on, man. Because you look at obviously Christian art throughout the centuries. I mean, we were kind of leading it and and and i think that there’s kind of two things for me. And it kind of brings up what you were saying, Derek, this idea of truthfulness, that that you bring that into conversations about beauty and goodness and and I really feel like maybe within Christian art, like my my big qualm is that there seems to be a fear of the uncomfortable and a fear of the complex, that that to have a complex character. That’s not just maybe one dimensional, but does have some good and some bad and we kind of see that it’s really hard sometimes I think in Christian art to to have a character like that,
which is interesting. Since every morning when we look in the mirror, we’re looking at a character like that.
Yeah, exactly. And the Bible is full of complex characters. I mean, that’s what makes the Bible so interesting people yeah. And and that’s what I mean for me like when I when I appreciate something like in a in a book or you guys know they still write books, they’re still people. Yeah, people
actually wait what around in class? Yeah, this is a book people you study these things? Yeah, we use it to hoist up my computer. monitor my monitor on top of both the desktop Yeah, exactly. Yeah,
these things are just help us get our technology closer to zero, right. But when you are in a book or TV show, like definitely I hate her on TV shows or streaming shows, whatever however you watch him that when you can find a story that that is real, and by real means it is complex, and there are maybe moments of reconciliation and moments of forgiveness, but there’s also moments of failure. And, and and I’m always appreciate like there’s there’s a lot of shows or maybe movies that that sometimes get vilified in the Christian world that I’m always like, Yeah, I know, I disagree with the maybe the morality that is portrayed in this story. Yeah. But I also disagree with the morality that’s portrayed in the David and Bathsheba story. And that’s kind of the point. Exactly. That’s the point.
You were mentioning actually, when we were, you know, preparing for this podcast, you you had brought up a movie that was roundly boycotted back in the day.
The Last Temptation of Christ. Yeah, very challenging piece. Right. You know, one of the things I don’t know if I should put this on a podcast, we can always that is happening, okay. You know, I mean, one thing that I think is very important as an educational institution, a Christian educational institution, with with my students, especially in their senior year, we have a particular class where I expose them to challenging works of artistry. These pieces, in theory should have had some substantial cultural influence. But I want to look at pieces that have that the church has had problems with, right, so that, you know, it’s it’s, it’s, it’s not to help them or cause them to question their faith. Right, right. In fact, it’s to strengthen it. It’s, it’s to say, Okay, what do you think about this piece? what it what do you think the piece is really saying? Right, you know, did the artist you know, the artist is communicating something to, does the artist have any responsibility to what they’re communicating? You know, does? You know, does the piece have a, you know, off of what you’ve heard kind of the mainstream, you know, Christian world say about the piece? And what do you get when you see the piece? How can you analyze this kind of, so we look at challenging peach pieces aren’t on purpose, to kind of refine
and when you check your outrage at the door, it’s really interesting, what you can actually see, oh, my God, well,
this is this is the funny This is the amazing thing is I have found, there is very little content, that Christian shouldn’t engage to some degree. Now, there’s a caveat to that, which is like, just as I say, you shouldn’t bring an alcoholic into a bar. Right? You know, I think you do have to be aware of the different kinds of materials. So when we discuss the Harry Potter issues that go on in Christianity, oh, yeah. You know, dun, dun, dun, um, and we compare it to like, Lord of the Rings. And I just, you know, and we kind of go back and forth. And it’s amazing, because very reasonable Christians fall on very different sides of that particular argument, right? Different reasons, right? Well,
obviously, Lord of the Rings is inspired Word of God.
That’s what we always end up coming to. But it is it isn’t it. It causes people to critically, it causes the students to critically think about the work.
And that’s really important. It’s really important I once read, and actually do not know where I got this from. Derek, you might know, I don’t know, you’re, you’re more conversant in this than I am. But if someone’s talking about there’s three sort of aspects of Christian criticism, and this is just one way of looking at it, there’s there’s others, but you take any piece in any way, and you look at its role, or its use you look at his perspective, and you look at this construction, and those are actually three different things, and you appreciate something on one level, yeah. And, and, and be able to, you know, be critical of it and another level, but still understand why some people would feel differently about this. I remember, my wife and I like to go see our film. So she’s, we always have to go into San Francisco easily to see. And I remember, there was this one film it was years ago, is probably about 12 years ago, that was and I even forgot the title of it. I think Penelope Cruz was in it, but it was it was an Italian movie. And he got like, you know, four and a half stars out of four, you know, he was one of this way to save the world. So it’s like, well, I guess we got to go see. Right, right. Yeah. And I remember walking out thinking two things about that movie, thinking I can understand why people loved this. It was really, really well done. Yeah. But it was the most a moral thing, not necessarily immoral bribe a more movie I had ever seen in my life. And so I was able to, you know, understand what was going on on one level and right and why some right could appreciate that. But on another level, it’s just that, you know, it left me with this real hollow feeling coming out now. Still recognizing that it was really well done,
right? Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think that’s well in. Going back to the book, the good taste, bad taste Christian tastes brene Brown talks about Having a theological aesthetic that has teeth without things. And I think that’s what do you mean? Like cuz you can be, cuz it’s not we’re not saying don’t be critical of right of modern culture artifacts, like, you can still be critical. But having fangs is different, right? Having that outrage, saying, Oh, no, I can appreciate I can see why this is well made. I can even see the truth. And the point that is trying to make that in so many current films are really just exploring the depravity that we have, right? I mean, they’re and they just kind of highlighting and it’s like absolute. Yeah. And, and, and, and you can kind of note the difference of something that’s trying to exploit it or or kind of lower, yeah, explore, or something that’s saying, hey, yeah, look at this, and what it does to human relationships and what it does, and we see that, and that seems to be the one place where Christian films also always kind of maybe fear to tread. Yeah. And, and, and that would be my hope for Christian art, is that is that we would move to a place where we can be honest, and we can be real, and we can create real characters in real stories, in a shocking way, just like the Bible did, like, in a way that has that has real characters that have real flaws, but also have real points. Yeah. And and note that the stories in the works of art, have a message so we don’t always have to try to force a message through them.
Yeah, I think I think you got something there. I think that, you know, I, I would love Christians to just make films without attaching the title Christian to it. Yeah, having a genre. Yeah, like being able to go and see the Marvel, you know, whatever, right. 40 new Marvel movie is able to go and as a Christian be able to analyze it and go, Okay, here’s where, you know, here’s where I see the truth in this particular piece. You know, when we look at, it’s so funny to me, for as much as we had the Christian genre, you know, tries to be its own thing. If you read a hero with the book of hero with 1000 faces, I mean, the basic storyline, and all of history has never changed, right. And it’s this kind of good versus evil. It’s a hero that has to go on a quest to overcome something. Yeah. I mean, and that is this. That’s the story and the main story, and I look at the Bible, and you’re like, it’s got a similar story. There’s a reason why we resonate with the story. Yeah, because it’s the earth story. Yeah. Yes, it’s true. Because it’s true. And why can’t we just go and watch movies? And and I know a lot of people say, like, for instance, while that, you know, I had, I’m from Boston area, I’ve had many people go, what is it about the boss? Why are those such filthy language? The boss and I go, have you been to Bali? I’m sorry, you’re here, you’ll find out why they’re actually being very true, right to a lot of the culture doesn’t mean everybody in Boston talks with that language, but a lot do and you can vary the truthfulness of that piece to truthfully represent that culture. It may be flawed, but if you’re going to be truthful about the representation of the culture, then then I go if that’s what we’re about, we’re about truth. Yeah. Why can’t we go? Watch those movies? Or, and, and be able to kind of sit there and go, Okay, do I agree with the overall narrative that’s being said, Here? Do I agree with the point of view with the worldview? Can my worldview support that? Again, I find that a Judeo Christian worldview, if Jesus is the Lord of all, the Judeo Christian worldview should support a lot more perhaps than it does. You know, I feel like a Christian. You know, Chris, when you look at boxes of where does art fit? Yeah, to look at the Christian art box. And it’s a fairly small box of what’s available. Right. You look at the art world, and it’s a huge I mean, it’s, yeah, enormous box. I think it’s interesting, because it still is a box. Yeah. Yeah. But when you look at God, there’s no box, right? And so I’m going we should be connecting to that. Yeah. I just feel like there’s it’s not to get down on anyone who’s experimenting and trying to create these movies and do it. Right. It’s, I just think that we’re chasing after the wrong thing. I think there’s just go tell the story, right? And the message would be they’re gonna tell a story,
you know, tell it well, one, and it seems to be kind of a more of a modern phenomenon that we would have Christian books or Christian films, when you look at kind of the history of art and history of literature, where you had Christians doing these works, but you would never think of like Dostoevsky as like, Oh, well, he wrote Christian books. And he just wrote great books of Russian literature, right. And he happened to be a Christian and he wove those things in and he had really complex characters and and complex stories.
If only he could write this stuff in 50 pages. Oh, yeah. I know that I just had one minutes. I just, I just made it through Brothers Karamazov. And it was, I made myself read it. Yeah. It’s like climbing Mount Everest.
Like even like I’m like, do you know I think of like Aristotle and Plato, arguably not Christians? Well, maybe not arguably. But right, do Christians find value in Aristotle and Plato? Yeah.
I mean, well, it’s really interesting. Honestly, in the medieval era, folks were talking about as Moses was to the Jews in preparing the way for Christ. So Plato was to the Greeks in preparing the way for Christ. Yeah. Which is an interesting way. Yeah. I’m not selling this, folks. Right, right. But there’s no yeah, there’s different ways of living, that can connect with the gospel. And there is
it makes sense. I mean, if God, you know, in theory, if we got a theory, not in theory, God is the Creator of all, then it makes sense that his ideas would come out of all people, right. You know, it’s the idea. Can you know, this, this concept? Can non Christian create a Christian work of art? I would say, what
I actually make make the students in Christian perspective class answer that question. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And once they start looking at it, it’s all over the price. And we’ll get right interesting movies that they that they come up with that actually have a Christian theme that nobody would have thought, but yeah, they were forced to look at it that way. And it’s fascinating how you can see that because, right, you can, that’s very, that’s cool.
This helpful, and I think this is just a helpful conversation as we kind of come to a close on the episode, but I think it’s really important for the church, and particularly the Evangelical Church to, to continue to think I mean, that’s why we’ve had you on a few times a good friend of the show, to kind of talk about this idea of meant to just be really kind of critically engaged in art and aesthetic, and, and really moving to that place of looking for truth. Yeah. And, and I think it’s important just to highlight some of those things, man, since we’ve made Christian as genre is just wow, how that changes everything. And that really is a modern phenomenon, right? That didn’t happen even 100 years ago, right now. And and so we need to be mindful of that. And we do need to be able to kind of take their critiques of people who make movies their spoof, because it is true, like, yeah, if you just slap Christian on it, then you’re gonna have a market divided. It’s like, Man, that shouldn’t be the case. Like, yeah. And, and again, that’s not to say we all have kind of different tastes, and there’s there’s different forms of art. But if we can move in all of our art, whether it’s pop art, or or high culture, art, are we moving to a place of speaking truth? And particularly for me, just going back to those two things like I think it’s really important that that we not fear the uncomfortable and not fear the complex, because because that is human nature, that is human experience. And that is the Bible. I mean, the Bible is always taught. I mean, when you when, you know, in classes, it’s really interesting to bring up Bible stories that make students uncomfortable. And they make me uncomfortable when I read them. And it’s like, hey, this we need to realize this in the Bible. And because this is a part of our human experience,
I need to sneak this quote in before we close up Yes, yes. I don’t know if we’ll ever talk about this book. Again. My favorite line in in Brown’s book is he’s talking about you know, different people people’s different perceptions what they like what they don’t like, and and he says to enjoy another’s enjoyment is an act of love. And so you know, it may not it may not work for you. Yeah, it works for someone that you care about, then you can at least understand and appreciate and allow them to enjoy the fact that it works for them. That’s great. And that’s a loving act, right? I I try to remember that about my wife’s music and also Yeah,
a good thing to think about how that that kind of thing kind of goes like both ways like you know, so it’s like maybe more high art can appreciate right pop art and the other way around, right? And you can bro you can understand someone’s love for the bachelorette. And if you love them, you can you can enjoy their enjoyment doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it. That’s where I draw. I don’t think that’s portable by Jessa Bachelet.
Nobody that is good. I mean, I think I think and this is across the board, not just in the Christian world, like right, we also do have to be very careful of just being critical and condemning of other people in their enjoyment in their art, whether it’s like oh, you watch these times. movies like even hallmark movies like, Oh, those are cheesy and that and it’s like, well, No, they’re not. So we do and I’m always in the place to where it’s like I never want to mocks and say, right, right, right. That that I want to appreciate it. It’s 30 yen if if someone enjoys it, I can enjoy their enjoyment. And then I can also engage in these things to learn about culture. And I can do that without just condemning and who
knows, you might start to enjoy it a little bit yourself. Exactly. You can see something redeeming in it that you could not see before because you’re looking at it through the eyes of love, if not the art, the person who is enjoying it. Yeah, it really makes a difference. That’s
so so true. Well, thanks for coming on the show. Derek, thank you for having me. Thank you for listening to Jessup. Think Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Jessup think we would love to hear your thoughts on the episode and engage with any questions you have. Our aim is to provide a framework for further reflection and deeper exploration of these important topics. You can also help the show by leaving a review on iTunes these reviews help the podcast reach new listeners. Until next time, I’m Mark Moore and this is Jessup.
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