May 22, 2007

Imagine; a Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner

I'm doing my assigned summer reading for my first class. (I'm going back to school to get my MFA in Directing)

The book is entitled Imagine; a Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner.

I've read any number of books on this topic. Heck, I've even written a few articles on the stuff and lead workshops on "God and the Arts."

So, I largely expected this to be an exercise in head-nodding. Not the "I knew that already" head nod, but the "Yes, yes, yes, that's what I've been preaching!" Even that would've been a valuable exercise. To be reinforced in my beliefs and passions is a noble endeavor, but the book has done much more.

The author is an ex-fundamentalist, ex-hippie (although its a lower case ex on the hippie part) who went on to become a poet and music critic. He was at L'Abri when Francis Schaffer was just getting things started there. And in this books he does two things that greatly impress me.

1. He's methodical. It's tough to find somebody who gets the arts that can think in highly structured argumentation. Try reading Madeline L'Engle's Walking on Water. It's like Philosophical Linguini, delicious and satisfying, but not fun to untangle. He has well gathered lists of the arguments often raised against the arts, and careful responses to each. He lists interesting differences between the evangelical stance toward the arts and the catholic position. And he nicely lists the possible causes for the variance.

2. He's all-encompassing. His grasp of the problems and power of the arts is not confined to his specific field of artistic vocation. He so accurately portrays the arguments posed against the actor, director, musician, sculptor and novelist one starts to wonder if he hasn't lived half a dozen lives, each as a different variety of Christian artist who has had to endure his brothers' and sisters' bitching about his unique call in the Kingdom.

I'm only a third of the way through the book and while it doesn't give off the fire of L'Engle's ethereal musings or Franky Schaffer's empassioned rant (Addicted to Mediocrity) it is like someone neatly stacking the wood meant to fuel those fires.

We need wood stackers as much as we need fire starters.

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