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Unity 2.0 – Art January 30, 2006

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Go to Unity 2.0 Intro

Church art is either really old or really bad or, (and this is the worst option I believe) non-existent.

The only art allowed in the church of my youth was the corporate acappella singing. That means no musical arts (our corporate voices is all God desires), no performing arts (we don’t perform), no visual arts (too Catholic), no literary arts (we have the Bible, don’t we?), and no architectural arts (since a church building was essential to salvation) – stripped down, bare & fucntional.

The closest thing we had to an artistic outlet was the Bible Bowl, which was the best symbol of all, exposing the deeply entrenched values of my church – content knowledge of scripture.

I learned of performing arts through the dramas (skits) done by the York College skit group, Soul Concern, when they would visit Flaming Pine Youth Camp (Here is a new blog for the camp) and do their thing. They blew me away. Funny, striking, irreverant, and deep. I felt like I was sinning just wathcing them and laughing while “in the assembly” at the Lodge.

Kathy (Bergmann) Osborne at camp would play her guitar and sing what I considered quasi-spiritual songs and I could not believe that she could get away with something like that. Dennie (THE DIRECTOR) would do the same thing. I never told on them because I liked them so much, but there was this guilt that kept after me.

But for these few exceptions outside the hometown church, art was effectively banned. If it wasn’t considered sinful, it was certainly considered excessive if not completely unnecessary.

The problem is that there were no outlets whatsoever for artistic people. You ask why so many young people leave the Church of Christ (or many evangelcal churches) after they graduate high school? I bet you will find many of them are artistically gifted with zero outlet for their gifts.

These artistic people are born and raised in a religious context that constantly insults their God-made hardwiring. How long can you last in a context that is perpetually saying how insignificant you are?

Folks, on art, we are divided. Yes, at conferences and special occasions we bring in the Jesus Painter or see Jack and Jill Maxwell work their wonders, but what about art being a normal part of worship? Where are the art galleries in the church building? Where are the chapbooks of pslams being written? Where are the performing arts even given a chance? Where is good architecture (if you must have a building)?

If there is a chance of connecting even within our own people, then art is not merely a neat idea, it is essential for those artistic people to feel at home within their church family.

Ah, but it goes farther than that. We have oodles of people waxing eloquent on the knowledge level, but few poets, mystics, and artists challenging us to utilize our imaginations and plumb the depths of the unspoken and unutterable life of our souls. Knowledge is shallow and can only speak about meaning. Art is meaning.

In 500 years we will be known for our art. Doesn’t that frighten you?

Believing Thomas picks up the story here.

Go to Unity 2.0 – Age



1. TCS - January 30, 2006

“The closest thing we had to an artistic outlet was the Bible Bowl, which was the best symbol of all, exposing the deeply entrenched values of my church – content knowledge of scripture.”
I am saving that one! Brilliant.

You are singing my song in this one. By the way it bothers me (visually) that if using Firefox your blog template is screwed up.

Churches of Christ are near the extreme end on this issue. I remember hearing a series of sermons from Pepperdine years ago by Rick Atchley titled “What a left-brained preacher has learned about right-brained worship” It gave me some sense of hope. We have been ruled too long by engineers. In attempting to describe something too large to describe man can go to mathmatics or poetry. God seems to have chosen poetry. We have chosen to interpret poetry with mathmatics.

2. Beaner - January 30, 2006

As a person who holds a Theatre Degree in Acting (along with my husband) I can attest to the lack of Christian outlets for our gifts. Sure, our church might support us if we wanted to develop something, but it’s hard to be the “first” at anything new in a church – SOOO many roadblocks. Sometimes I’d rather get plugged in to an already existing program. I hope that the CofC can continue to open the door to the Arts – after all, Jesus was a storyteller…and THAT is an art form!!!

There is so much beauty in the world & so many ways to express it. Why not express it with the gifts given to us by God, FOR God?

3. Bek - January 30, 2006

aaah, and where are the worship dancers? like Miriam and David?

4. Fajita - January 30, 2006

Ok, Thomas, when I do firefox, my main column blees over into the sidebar, is that the problem you are having? If it is I will fix it on mine and it might fix on yours.

Bek, with all due respect, I don’t want any David worship dancing going on at my church. Maybe a toned down with clothes version, but not the Biblical version.

5. TCS - January 30, 2006

yes it is the column width. I was just kidding.

I vote NO on the naked men dancing! A little too much freedom for me. See if you were a proponent of the slipperly slope theory then you have your argument. You start doing some art crap and the next thing you know…

6. David U - January 30, 2006

I always been a right brainer….or whatever is up there…..but I KNOW you creative left brain people have had to suffer for years! The trouble with you guys is that you made it hard to keep things “decent and in order”! 🙂

Keep em coming,

7. DJG - January 30, 2006

I remember one girl coming to my church who was suprised becasue we had colored stain glass windows…what a fantastic reputation we have.

I would love to have the additional outlets to express my adoration and sometimes my frustrations.

8. Karen - January 30, 2006

I had to chuckle at your mention of architecture. We can be driving through new territory and I can often spot a church of Christ without looking at the sign, just based on the building. I will just see the shape and design and say, “That looks like a church… yep, the sign says ‘Gooberville Church of Christ.'” What is up with that?

9. Anonymous - January 31, 2006

And… The only culturally redeeming part of being COC, the quality a capella singing of classic church hymns, is disappearing.

I grieve that “Just as I Am” et al is being replaced by campfire songs.

We are a cultural, intellectual and artistic desert.


10. Joel Maners - January 31, 2006

Thanks for posting this. This is a subject close to my heart. It is a shame how we have treated the arts and those with artistic talents. The church should be a place where all God’s children can use their gifts to the glory of God.

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