Pardon the phrasing; I don’t mean to insult anybody, but a catchy title is key for getting your blog out there. Besides, that’s how it was described to me: “You need to go and make art with some really messed-up people.”
That was my little brother’s advice back when we were talking about art and how little there was where I lived: Midwest suburbia. I loved the Midwest, but the surburban part? No. Plus, the Midwest is not the greatest talent pool for artists, or at least it doesn’t lend itself to arts very much.
But the main point of this blog is me pushing back against the biggest art-killer in the world. Suburban Christianity.
Church or GTFO
I’m a Christian and I’m not about to change that for anybody. But you know what? I’m really tired of the modern, white-washed, comfortable church. It’s too safe for one thing. God is about making you happy, Christians don’t get hurt, life is one big party, and if you ever do get hurt or stuck, attend this one class and you’ll be better in 90 days or your money back.
It’s not life. There’s no agonizing struggle. Oh, yes, Jesus went through unbearable torture, but Christians don’t have to. That’s the implied message, at least. But even the joy is limited to smiles and happy words. No dancing, no jumping up and down in excitement, no laughing so hard that you snort.
Art can’t live in a culture like that. And it doesn’t. Christian Art is relegated to the following rules: If you can’t show it in church, it’s not Christian Art. It has to be blatantly evangelical or an obvious allegory. Christian artists who don’t do these things are pushed to the fringes.
So here I am.
My Fellow Outcasts
I hate to say there’s no art in the mainstream church because it’s just not true. But the church culture often limits art, or calls art bad, trying to divide the Christian stuff from the non-Christian stuff. That’s like saying food is bad unless it’s Christian food.
I’m sick of living in a safe, sterilized, lifeless bubble with Christian artists, “Christian” artists, and Christian “artists.” I want to meet real creators. But real creators go through life. They’re not always pleasant to be around, nor are they always clean-cut.
Those are the artists I want to meet. The “messed-up” people. This is a church-y definition, not my own, but I’m a messed-up person, too. I’m an over-imaginative recovering porn addict.
So who are these “messed-up” people as the suburban church might define them? Sinners. People who slept with someone outside of marriage. People who have dabbled or dunked in drugs and alcohol. People who cuss. Poor people. Atheists and people of other religions. Left-wing man-eaters who had abortions. And anybody who is L, G, B, T, Q, or whatever other letters they’ve added to that acronym in the past ten minutes.
Why these people? Because I need to get out of my comfort zone. Because being a Christian means getting out of the pew and into the world. Because I’m committed to art and I’m not going to tolerate religion castrating it and calling it holy.
I want to meet other artists, which means opening the doors. Am I going to regret this at some point? Probably. Will I meet people I’d rather forget? Likely; we can’t all be friends. Will I meet people who live too far in the opposite direction in my opinion? I think I will.
But I’ve spent too much time on one side of the pendulum. Time to swing.
And I’m also sure I’ll run into people I, myself, am not comfortable with, or with whom I radically disagree. But for one thing, this challenges my own prejudices and for another, that’s what Jesus did.
Besides, I’d like to take a leaf from my brother’s book, the one who first suggested this to me. He went to school to be a dancer, which means hanging out with gay men. But he did so and became great friends with them. And he made great art. My brother’s an amazing dancer and choreographer and his opportunities keep mounting because he wasn’t afraid to get dirty and befriend people the church would rather forget about.
And best of all? His friendship, passion for art, and committment led one of those men to Christ just recently. Witnessing to people is living with them, not just preaching.
Non-Messed-Up People May Still Apply
This isn’t an exclusionary tactic. Many great artists aren’t high right now, worked legit jobs, and have a good savings account. You’re welcome also. I’m simply reaching out to an extreme that’s far from my own as a personal challenge. As long as you’re an artists who’s more committed to art than “clean” culture, you’re welcome here.
How will this work? No idea. I’m just putting the word out there. If you’re an artist, even a little, send me a link to your blog, your Deviant Art account, your Instagram, your WattPad, your Youtube channel, your website, your store, whatever form your art takes.
All artists are welcome. Writers, dancers, painters, filmmakers, chefs, architects, craft-makers, martial artists, actors, fashion designers, anyone who wants to create something with a purpose. Money is great and I hope you make buckets of it, but I’m searching for those whose primary interest is the art itself. Why do you make what you make?
I hope we can be friends. I hope we can swap contact info (mine is at the top of this page or under the Menu button). Heck, I really hope we can meet in real life, see exhibits, share experiences, swap art projects. I live in the Denver area if anybody’s interested.
We’ll be different; you from me and I from you. But that’s why I want to do this. I want art. I want life. I want to be a Godly man. You can’t get these things standing still. So I’m stepping into a new world, culture, and worldview, ready to challenge myself, challenge other people, and create something beautiful.