Friday, February 23, 2007

Bland, predictable and explicit vs. interesting, creative and implicit

I'm not sure I'm going to express this properly (and I don't remember how much of this is my own thoughts and how much belongs to others), but somewhere along the line Christian art forms became blunt and explicitly Christian, rather than subtle and implicitly Christian. Today's Christian fiction novels need to be perfectly doctrinally correct, with a strong gospel presentation and a happy ending.

Contrast this with C.S. Lewis. Some of the things he says in his books just aren't doctrinally correct. How I'm definitely in favour of correct doctrine, but the purpose of a fiction novel is not to lay out doctrine like a textbook, but to entertain you while making you think. The final novel in the Chronicles of Narnia is enough to make you weep with joy.

Likewise Lewis's non-fiction. Maybe the doctrine wasn't perfect, but his books did make you think. Think about his statement, "there I sat, the most dejected convert in all England." Or how about "it matters more that Heaven exists than that we should ever get there." Or even such pithy observations as "We laugh at honour, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst."

So where is the implicit Christianity in the arts? Where are the talents like Lewis who could describe the basics of Christianity in a different sort of world? Where are the novelists who can write about characters who are obviously Christian in their beliefs without sticking them in church to make sure we all know there are saved?

Correct doctrine must be taught, from the pulpit and in the home. But today's Christian arts are bland, predictable and have a blunt explicit Christianity. And mores the pity.


Blogger Jaby said...

As a fan of Christian Music, this point has been debated for years. Is music by Christians just as good (read: acceptable) as music made for Christians? That is, the U2's of the world vs the Michael W. Smiths of the world.

Sometimes, a "christian" label is useless, who cares if you are a christian, can you paint?

(Note: A version of this column first appeared in CCM magazine in the early 90s. I even have the copy sitting in my garage somewhere)

3:30 p.m.  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...

I'm most interested in excellent music made by and for Christians. For for that matter, books that lift me up by making me think.

9:37 p.m.  

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