Living at the convergence of faith and art.

My Faith-Driven Core

Hearth Gathering-Oct/2012I’ve been on some absolutely amazing journeys lately and before I wrote anything, I’ve had to ruminate a bit. I wasn’t sure what to share, and how. I’m so excited that I could have easily come across as a blithering idiot.

Recently I had the privilege of attending an artist’s gathering hosted by author and cultural commentator, Dick Staub. It was a life-transforming weekend. The conversations, structured conversations as Dick called them, were very soul searching. He’d drop a deeply penetrating question out there. We’d all pause and consider it, and then the open, honest, vulnerable sharing would happen.

We were all asked to prepare a 10-minute presentation about ourselves, and the work we were engaged with. Fascinating, the creative stories of the other guests.

My having to put together something interesting was a real soul-searching experience. I mean, I’d much rather listen to what everyone else had to say. What was I going to say?; “Hi, I’m Lew Curtiss and I work in Collage/Mixed-Media.”

What happened though was a wonderful journey of self-discovery. I began the same way I approach my art-making, I’ve learned not to ask what the piece is going to look like, or “be”. I just dive in knowing that there’s no such thing as a “mistake”. What emerged was a God directed journey into where I’ve come from, what I’m currently doing, and where He’s leading me.

In this journey, I ended up connecting a lot of really important dots having to do with the creative path I’ve followed these last 5 or 6 years. I found myself revisiting my core beliefs that make up the Christian faith driving my art. Just a few; there’s a vast difference between faith and mere religion; in the eyes of the world, faith-driven artists are “too religious”, and in the eyes of many (maybe most) churches, faith-driven artists are at best, irrelevant.

I was also reminded of 1Peter 2:9 which says,

“…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (ESV)

What essentially interests me most is the power of faith-driven art to alter the course of culture to the glory of God. How does the way I live, what I make and share with others make any difference for the cause of Christ?

I’ve long held that Faith-Driven artists are of the tribe of Levi, just as ordained clergy are; that Faith-Driven artists are sanctified and consecrated being set aside by God for a very high calling (which we need to take seriously). I believe that Faith-Driven artists are God’s second voice of the Church (the Body of Christ) right alongside ordained clergy.

Through all of this I was being re-grounded through, the discussions, the conversations, and now in my reading. Everywhere I am finding affirmations and confirmations in and through many voices other than my own. It’s an awesome gift from the Lord, confirming what to do and which way to go!

This same connecting of dots of my core driving beliefs has also lead me back to Dick Staub’s book, The Culturally Savvy Christian. This is my third reading, and taken after the gathering with my fellow thoughtful creatives, it’s just what I need. I’ve got my yellow highlighter and my red-ink pen out. I’m marking up the book, making notes, tagging the pages, and reabsorbing yet again.

Every time I reread one of my core, foundational books I get something new out of it. At the very least I am reminded of something important that I’d laid aside. My on-desk library features the writings of Armstrong, Cameron, Edwards, Foster, Keller, L’Engle, Lewis, Staub, Tharp, Warren, and Yancey. The top of the list, of course, is my Dad’s large print NIV Bible. I’m glad for the large print by the way, I am almost 60 you know.

I’m so excited, and so motivated, God has lead me into my third body of work, but more on that later. And of course, I’ll try really hard not to stay away so long.

Thanks for listening.

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