Thursday, July 11, 2013

Art on a silver platter.

Corner of Painter’s Table - Giovanni Boldini

Imagine if you will, a starving man. He hasn't eaten in a weeks, his form is thin and emaciated. Beside him is a silver platter, and on it a steaming roast chicken. However instead of gorging on delicious bird flesh, he simply leaves the plate alone. You walk up to him and ask him why he doesn't just eat the meal. He replies 'oh I wouldn't want to eat that chicken! It would make me fat!'. 

Before you can reply that he's in absolutely no danger of becoming fat, another man walks on the scene. He's fat, enormous even... the guy just smells like diabetes. He eyes the chicken hungrily. "Take it!" says the starving man cheerfully offering up the silver platter. He grabs it and gobbles it up. The starving man smiles at the fat one condescendingly and whispers to you, "See that's why I didn't take the food, otherwise I would end up fat like him!". 

I don't think I have to tell you what's wrong with this picture. Quite obviously the starving man needs the food he's giving away. 

This is the state of Christian Art. 

Art is like food, it's one of the things that cultures need to survive. It takes the beliefs and values of a society and represents them in an emotional format that people can easily relate to. It's just as important as Science, if not more. What's more is that Christians have a proud history of art and literature that can rival that of any competing philosophy or religion. So why are modern Christians so apathetic or even hostile when it comes to art? 

The fact is. We're scared. We're scared that if we make art... any art... we will become what liberalism has become. Fat, enormous, diabetic... swollen on artistic junk food. So we react to that by starving ourselves. We make a little art. Just enough to survive. But it's purposefully bland and unpleasant... so we don't enjoy it too much. But in doing so we've ignored the blatantly obvious. 

We need to make healthy art. We need to make good, deep and interesting art that encourages people to grow in their lives. Our literature should be deep, challenging and wholesome literature. Our artistic diet should be balanced. After all doesn't the Apostle Paul himself encourage us to grow in the spirit of our minds? 

Those of us who aren't artists need to realize that art, is something vital to our health as human beings. Imaginations are just like bodies, they need to be treated right to be healthy. It's that simple

Those of us who are artists in Christian Circles need to discipline themselves. Because good art is not easy. It's work. We shouldn't feel bad, or liberal about making or devouring art. Good Art requires work, sympathy, empathy, vision, skill. 

This is what this blog is about. Developing Christian Art . A place where we can discuss how and why we should grow our imaginations. That's what you can look forward to in the next few blog posts. The topics here will cover a range of topics, philosophy, theology, literature, world-building and yes... dragons, but the core is going to be the same. Developing Christian Art. It's a profound missions and a dangerous one, but it's also worth it.

Hope you can join us
~ Brendan Hanley

(art by Fiona Hanley)


  1. This is a poverty in modern Christian culture. I think in part, this is a holdover from ages past, when imagination was identified with idleness, which is the devil's playground.

    As the broader culture in which we live grows more and more post-modern, the dearth of (good) artistic expression among Christians hampers our ability to evangelize or even to relate to non-Christians.

  2. Somebody (maybe Rod Dreher?) made the point that it takes a lot of mediocre art (or anything) to turn out really good stuff. Not that we should be satisfied with mediocrity, but we don't necessarily need to be discouraged by it, either.

  3. Good post. I really like the planned theme for this blog. Looking at the art that should be in writing is a really deep and good theme, as well as one that I feel like Christian writers have a tendency to struggle with. Looking forward to future posts!

  4. *likes this post muchly* Agreed there. Bring on more good wholesome art! The world needs it.

  5. Jason, entirely agreed. That's what this blog is all about. One of the ways to equip us to relate to the culture around us :)