Friday, December 21, 2007

Artistic Affinity and Christianity...

¨It seems odd to have to say so, but too much religion is a bad thing. We can’t get too much of God, can’t get too much faith and obedience, can’t get too much love and worship. But religion – the well-intentioned efforts we make to ´get it all together´ for God – can very well get in the way of what God is doing for us. The main and central action is everywhere and always what God had done, is doing, and will do for us. Jesus is the revelation of that action. Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to God’s action revealed in the Jesus. Our part in the action is the act of faith.

But more often than not we become impatiently self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents’ worth. We add on, we supplement, we embellish. But instead of improving on the purity and simplicity of Jesus, we dilute the purity, clutter the simplicity. We become fussily religious, or anxiously religious. We get in the way.¨
-- Dr. Eugene H. Peterson

I think my Christian background conscientiously found me or did a google search on my past before signing me up. What I didn’t realize was that those first years of artistic, atypical, unconventional discipleship, would mark the rest of my life.

Meanwhile, I was twenty years old looking for friends of like mind. Not that I had anything to complain about. Although I didn't mind some of the pesky weirdos at the Art College, most had more emotional baggage than I was willing to lug. I DESPERATELY NEEDED PERSONS TO REPLACE THE JUNKIES.

Finally, one Springy day an acquaintance from the ¨Fine Arts Department¨ surprised me with an invitation that first began with a bible study then to a ¨church service¨. BTW, the label ¨Fine Arts Department¨ has always amused me as being quite paradoxical, because fine arts is so far on the right hemispheric side of the dictionary yet attached to the humdrum left hemispheric CORPORATE WORD… ¨department¨.

Anyway, as a free-spirited artiste, I was highly skeptical of any organized religious group, but this fellow did not come across as your typical religion nut at all, but down to earth and quite wise/ insightful for his years. Subsequently, I began a groundbreaking journey that was quite disturbing inspiring at first. I found myself attracted repelling this unusual artistic community of Christians (unusual in their outlook more than their doctrine). Yet, strangely enough I felt safe among these saints because they all seemed to have one common denominator: disenchantment with religiosity and that was something I easily could relate with any day of the week.

This down-to earth atypical group differed from the brand of sterile religiosity I grew up with … legalistically rule bound, dishonestly compliant and monotonously ritualistic. My world beamed for more than just a euphoric hour or two. The church members themselves wrote the songs sung. Lyrics like the one that follows that still have a notable meaning 20 years later…

Sandal Song
By Heather Mills

I would kneel before you,
And your sandal I’d unfasten,
Sister, I would hasten,
To wash the dust from your feet,

For Jesus has shown me,
That the greatest gift I could know,
Is when He lets me show,
Proof of his love, each time we meet.

What made this church noteworthy was that it was not only an interdenominational community, but also a congregation of Christian musicians, artists, writers, singers, poets, composers and dancers (many professional). God placed me in such an ideal worshipful atmosphere where I was able to enjoy and develop creative right hemispheric affinity.

I knew intellectually what being a Christian meant. But it was quite different to know Christ in theory then experience Him in real life. So, armed with this new understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Christ and not necessarily of men, my life, like a poem, had many twists and turns. It moved me away from the religiosity of a corporate church that depersonalizes faith, striving to ¨being all things to all men¨ and waiting for big prophets profits to roll in. So, I have always strived towards a more creative spiritual life and new types of projects and relationships on that road called discovery.

Dr. T. R. Glover, an authority on the early centuries A.D. says that one of the reasons why Christianity won the world was because it did better thinking than the rest of the world. It knew how to think deeply. The Christian read the best books, assimilated them, and lived the freest intellectual life than the world had.

Truth can be like a rapturous melody to the trained musician’s ear, a sublime panorama to the artistic painter, or a heart-tugging utterance to the poetic mind or it can be a stifled lifestyle waft from meditative nurture.

-- TR

1 comment:

Bethany Pledge said...

I'm tired of religion too. Still believe in Jesus, though.