Monday, March 17, 2008

"Christian" Art that Is Not Christian

In a provocative post, Tony Woodlief contends that what many religious people would refer to as "Christian art" is less than Christian, in that it fails to account for the realities that Christianity, though frequently not Christians, address:

Good art, in short, is excluded from the Christian domain if it depicts depravity, while terrible art [such as the "Left Behind" movies] is included so long as it is explicitly Christian and purges itself of realism.

Mr. Woodlief goes on to describe two negative effects of the contemporary Christian approach to the arts:

First, bad Christian art denudes our aesthetic sense. A benefit of a very fine book, movie, or song is that it either helps us see truths about the world that we have not seen before, or it articulates — if only indirectly — a truth we have always known, but could never put our finger on....

Second, bad Christian art cripples our compassionate imagination. When the bad guys practically have signs in a novel or movie labeling them as such, and the soon-to-be saved characters are similarly cordoned off, we lose sight of the wickedness that inhabits saints, and the despair that inhabits the hearts of the lost.

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