Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Natural Connections & Creative Liberty

Craft In AmericaI was re-watching one of my favorite inspirational programs on PBS,Craft In America. The episode was Landscape.  I noticed how many of the artists spoke in terms of connections to the natural world; spiritual connections.  It got me thinking, and in today’s Morning Pages (Cameron), an idea, a realization just came gushing out of me.

For artists working in natural contexts, we are very often in harmony with God’s creation. We tend to be aware of the cycles of the sun and the moon. Even if we live in the city, we tend to feel the passing of the seasons. We appreciate and admire nature’s power, beauty, and mystery, regardless of scientific explanation. We know that God’s creation is spiritual, that His life and purpose throbs throughout His creation. We feel that pulse of life and as artists working in natural contexts, we fall into rhythm with the respiration of His cosmos. Our inspiration is born from this harmony.

Artists working in exclusively man-made contexts know little or nothing of this all-powerful spiritual connection. They’re often preoccupied with human matters, exploring humanity in and of itself.

I am an artist of natural connections, and I cannot see how any faith-driven artist could be otherwise. Though we live in cities, those man-made fortresses against nature, faith-driven artists must surely appreciate the cycles of the moon and the stars; must certainly appreciate the cycles of life & death in the seasons; must surely appreciate life in all of its forms. Even if nature is not the subject of our art, surely the faith-driven artist in their relationship with God, must feel the rhythms and pulse of life & death, rise & fall, of change & movement of the cosmos and its Creator God. Surely they must.

This could very well be the basis for artists being thought of as Shaman down through the millenia. Here were creative people who see the world and the universe in a startlingly different manner from their neighbors. Here are people who revel in the slightest, smallest, essence of meaning where others find absolutely nothing.

We’re odd. We’re in synchronization with the Cosmos. We’re different. We think, act, and see things in another light. We see meaning and significance where others may simply see an object, overlooking any idea with which it may be imbued.

We’re makers – we’re makers of special (Dissanayake). We capture and record significance on and through ordinary objects endowing them with significance and meaning. We’re often unsure of what we’re saying, but we listen; we interpret, translate, and communicate much of our life’s encounters.

This is why I claim that faith-driven artists are somewhat prophetic. They can see, experience, and understand things others simply brush off as weird. Artists are essentially communicators. Artists are every bit as important as God’s pastors, ministers, and rabbis. While theologians shepherd their congregations, it is the artists who help people make some sense of their daily lives.

Hear me well – I am not against Theologians.  I am merely attempting to demonstrate the differing worlds in which theologians and artists operate, and their distinct roles in each.

Devoid of mere religion, artists convey meaning in almost any human context. Artists can go where and say what most  theologians dare not even attempt. It would be deemed inappropriate, or offensive. They would not be listened to, much less understood. But an artist is allowed into the deepest, most intimate levels of truth running through the human soul.

Artists can, and often do, present the truth as raw and gristly as necessary. In the works of obedient faith-driven artists, people encounter themselves. We see ourselves in the scenes of a film or play, in the pages of a novel or poem, in the collage or painting we encounter. We don’t need a preacher to tell us. This encounter is personal and it’s deep. Only God’s creatives can go there, sharing joy & pain, happiness & despair, promise & disappointment.

Bound by the confines of the Bible, the Theologian works from inside its pages stretching its contained meanings out onto the landscape of life. Free of the confines of the Bible, the Artist works from the outside, drawing from both life and inspiration of the Word of God.  Both, Theologian and Artist work with God’s Word and ways as their foundation, but one is limited by religion, and the other is free of it. Together they allow God to speak through them to a world seeking to comprehend life’s meaning and purposes.

I’m glad I’m not a theologian, but an artist. I’m glad that I get to work outside of the pages of God’s Word, being inspired, informed, guided and flavored by the truth and wisdom living there.

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