Design And The Church Essay

982 words - 4 pages

We do tend to expect certain things when we enter a place of worship, or peruse an active ministry, and truthfully, when taking in Christian oriented art. There are a couple reoccurring emblems, symbols, well-worn themes, and subjects which have been deemed safe, coming under overuse, carrying the weight of a saltine in the impact it makes on people, including us. While intentions are almost always well meaning, these conventions appear to the secular as a genre of its own in culture and art, quite often ringing with an unsavory note of incompetence. That’s already an unpleasant attribution to a faith that has changed the world, having built the infrastructure of empathy that has survived ...view middle of the document...

I won’t get into details of how the Church as a congregational entity should function. That would bring in all manner of theological and philosophical discussion which is outside the discussion of this paper, but the aspect of art and design is crucial to the heart which beats within the body. We have crutches, the conventions tied to ritual, which can be meaningful and pleasant. Too much value is placed on them. What I want to communicate is that the vitality of church can be seen in the richness of its art. At the moment, it’s pretty sad. Some would criticize the use of design to manipulate the emotions of others (exempli gratia, revivalists have a formula of rhythm, music, and speech which is designed to excite the individual, to make them believe they are moved by the spirit). That is a completely reasonable criticism. That’s why Christian art and music are genres of their own, reduced to formulas invoking stock reactions. It’s why Christian movies always have the same message, the same cliches, preaching to the same choir. Art moves people, but it does so with ideas. Ideas have weight and involve personal change of thought. It’s moving the light around so you can see what shadows have once hidden. A type conservatism demands that the light remain in exactly one spot, insists that the world shouldn’t and doesn’t change, that problems and the way we engage them don’t change.

This believe is contrary to scripture, where God gradually had his chosen people evolve throughout the progression of time, culminating in the change of the heart brought with Christ, which is where most people stop. I contend that the process continues, not changing Christ’s impact on the world, but in our understanding and involvement with it. Art that does not ask why tends not...

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