Posts tagged ‘Lydia Thomas’

June 21, 2012

The Supremacy of Christ: The Proper Place of the Arts in the Local Church

Before we can talk about the proper place of the arts in the local church, we must first acknowledge that both the universal church and the local groups gathered in Jesus’ name and for His glory belong to Jesus Christ.  I love these verses in Colossians:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15-18)

The word for “preeminence” in the NIV is “supremacy.” The NASB most accurately states the supremacy of Christ as His coming first in everything.

Very simply put, Christ not only expects to come before all else in my life, but also to be the driving reason behind all I say and do. From this passage, it is clear this is also Christ’s standard for His church. This is very serious business to God. He jealously guards His glory. In Isaiah, He declares to straying Israel, “I AM THE LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8). Additionally,  Jesus tells us that many of the Old Testament Commandments can be summed up in this command: to love God with our whole being – heart, mind, soul (Luke 10:27). We can see this is true as God commands, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

Since Christ is to be supreme in His church, the primary purpose of the arts in the local church should be to exalt Him. I say should be because most churches subscribe to one of two views concerning the place of the arts in the local church. Some churches depend on the celebrity and talent of their artists to draw people in, exalting the artist and the people they are trying to reach to Christ’s rightful place in their gatherings. Other churches do not realize the potential of believing artists to glorify God through art. They view the arts as a distraction from God. A select few even believe that the arts are only tools of the Enemy, intended to usurp Christ’s authority in His church. As a believing artist, I cannot take either stance regarding the place of the arts in the local church. One view completely discounts Christ, the other discounts the arts.

The question on my mind, believing artists’ minds, and probably some local shepherds’ minds is this: How are these attitudes going to change? It’s really simple. When Christ is in His proper place (i.e. He comes first in everything and is supreme) in a local church, the arts will also fall into their proper place! (I told you). When we recognize that Christ is to come first in ev-er-y-thing, we have to come to terms with the fact that He should also come first in the arts – especially those utilized in His church. Christ wants to be glorified and made known through artists and the arts – even in the local church.

What does this look like? This is also really simple. Make sure Christ is first in the arts in your local church. (See? I did it again). It is not about me, it is not about you, it is not about your local church, it is not about the artists – it is about Jesus Christ – who He is and what He has done.  Artists and arts in the local church need to reflect that. In music, this means not only “performing” (I really hate to use that term – remember our little post on integrity) music that is Christ-centered, but for the singer or musician to be dwelling on Christ during a time of praise and worship (see Muse: Drawing Inspiration). As a film-maker, if I’m asked to produce something for a service, it is not about showcasing what I can do or “wowing” people with smoke and mirrors. It is about having a heart overflowing with Christ, so I can visually share about Him.

Christ is first.  If Christ doesn’t come first in a local church, if He doesn’t hold His church’s devotion, priorities and views become skewed, not just about the arts, but about Him! We must (must, must, must) exalt Christ and glorify God in local church arts before anything else, and His exaltation and glory should be the driving reason behind our arts.

But…

There’s more.

You’re just going to have to wait until next week to get it.

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film. She is passionate about reaching and discipling artists for Jesus Christ. 

June 12, 2012

The Arts and the Local Church: Preface

Well, folks, it is upon us.  In two days we are launching The Arts and the Local Church series on the FortyOne20 Ministries blog. For the past few weeks we’ve been dealing with the concept of excellence, and we will return to that topic mid-July, but for the next month or so, we are shifting our focus.

While the need for excellence in the arts is generally accepted and agreed upon, the place of the arts in the local church is typically a matter of great contention.  Because of the sensitive nature of this topic, some things need to be said before we publish the articles.

First, and most importantly, FortyOne20 Ministries and The Arts and the Local Church contributing artists love the Body of Christ (universal church) and the local groups of believers gathered in His name and for His glory because we love Jesus. It is never our intention to overstep the authority of the local church on the arts or any other matter. We recognize pastors, elders and other shepherds as called by God to oversee and take care of local church gatherings (Tit. 1; 1 Tim. 3). Whether we agree with them or not, we accept their authority in their respective local churches.

Secondly, you may read things in this series that are at odds with what your pastors, elders, shepherds and churches teach. If that is the case, your responsibility is to submit to the authority of your local church, NOT to lead an arts revolution within said gathering. If you are seriously convicted about what you are reading, you should prayerfully consider speaking to your pastor and elders about it, but know that what they say goes for your local body of believers. If you still find yourself  disagreeing with their decision, (pastors and elders, don’t hate me) it is perhaps time to make a gracious exit. Let me reiterate: it is NEVER your job to start an arts revolution in your local church without the consent of your local church shepherds.

That being said, it is our prayer that this series will spark a God-orchestrated and positive change both in believing artists and in how local churches view and use art. Many churches simply do not realize the proper place of art in the church and that is inhibitive to believing artists. Our goal for this particular series is to understand the proper place of art in the church and how to achieve it, and it is our prayer that it falls on receptive and ready-to-act hearts.

Sincerely,

FortyOne20 Ministries

and

The Arts and the Local Church contributing artists

June 7, 2012

Artist’s Pick: Mirror, Mirror versus Snow White and the Huntsman

“I find more bitter than death
    the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
    and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
    but the sinner she will ensnare.”

~Ecclesiastes 7:26

I’ve already somewhat analyzed Mirror, Mirror in Cross-Examination: Profile of a Witch. Today I want to revisit  part of that analysis, but compare it instead to Snow White and the Huntsman.

Growing up, Snow White never was one of my favorite Disney Princesses (or even Grimm Princesses). No, I’m a Cinderella kind of girl.  However, I enjoyed both Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman more than I’ve enjoyed the “real” adaptations of Cinderella. Both adaptations follow the traditional Snow White story – you know, beautiful (but evil) queen will do anything to hold on to her beauty.

The art direction in Mirror, Mirror is bright and extravagant, mirroring (no pun intended) its more comedic and ridiculous storyline.   On the other hand, Snow White and the Huntsman‘s art direction is toned down – with costuming and coloring befitting the Middle Ages.  In a couple of instances, it discreetly nods to the animated Disney movie – like when Snow White is running through the forest with trees and shadows clawing at her and Ravenna’s crown and the ravens associated with her magic. Both movies have interesting but distinct takes on the Magic Mirror. Both also use the dwarves for comic relief (which is a separate analysis all together).

I enjoyed both movies (really), but I liked Snow White and the Huntsman better. It did a really good job with character development (with the exception of the dwarves who were significantly under-developed).

I especially appreciated how they dealt with Ravenna’s obsession with beauty: she wasn’t just obsessed with it, for her it was her power, a way to control. She wasn’t your typical “I just want to stay young and beautiful forever” character. When I was watching the movie and thinking about Ravenna’s character, the Ecclesiastes verse above came to my mind. This is truly her character. Someday, I would really like to see a movie where this “damaged woman” archetype is redeemed. In these fairy tales, her heart just explodes or her eyes get plucked out or some such business. Why not let the damaged woman heal?

I also liked Snow White as a battle princess. In the end, it wasn’t the Huntsman who “saved” or “rescued” her. She did battle for herself. In compassion at the end of the movie, she tells Ravenna, “You cannot have my heart.” I just liked that. For those of you who don’t know me well, I really like the concept of the warrior or battle princess. There is something very powerful about a woman who fights for who she loves and what she believes in. I don’t like that Snow White is portrayed as just good, like it’s something in and of herself. All women need redemption, not just the wounded ones.

The Huntsman was (at least in my experience) a pretty accurate portrayal of modern manhood. Guys, I’m not hating (really). I just think men in our society are a little bit afraid to step up to the plate as men. (And probably for a lot of reasons that since I am not a man, I will not get into). That was disappointing to Snow White, but not so disappointing that she turned into the damaged woman.  Eventually, he deals with his complicated background, and does step up and ride into battle with Snow White.  He cannot rescue or redeem Snow White (that’s not his job), but he fights along side of her. *Happy sigh*

Yeah, uh, so now that I’ve watched it to analyze it, I’m going back to watch and enjoy it. 🙂

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film. She is passionate about reaching artists with the good news of Jesus Christ and discipling them in the arts.

May 31, 2012

Muse: Drawing Inspiration

It’s a vocab lesson this week, folks. 😉

Muse v. to think about something in a deep and serious or dreamy and abstracted way; to say something in a thoughtful or questioning way; to gaze at somebody or something thoughtfully or abstractedly.

Muse n. someone who is a source of inspiration for an artist, especially a poet; the inspiration that supposedly visits, leaves, and suggests things to an artist, especially a poet; the particular gift or talent of an artist.

The concept of muse originates in Greek mythology.  The muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and the goddess of memory, Mnemosyne: Calliope, muse of epic poetry; Clio, muse of history; Erato, muse of tragedy; Polyhymnia, muse of sacred poetry (yes, that’s where we get our word “hymn”); Terpsichore, muse of dance; Thalia, muse of comedy; and Urania, muse of astronomy. Clearly, muse has been associated with art from the beginning (or very close to the beginning). Through the ages, it has come to be known as an artist’s inspiration, and now holds connotations of deep thought, meditation, and reflection.

Muse is what we as artists are dwelling on as we create.  Muse can take the form of another artist, a piece of art, a lover or love affair, a life circumstance, or any combination of these.  Muse can be ever-changing or perpetually-constant.  Regardless of the form it takes, muse represents the deep connection on the part of the artist to who or what is being thought about.

Muse is personal, perhaps even private to some.  You can see the product of muse and the artist in the art, but you may never know what is behind the art.

Many times the muse relationship fluctuates through auras of painful and joyful. I can think of about twenty break-up songs that illustrate the painful side of muse: a relationship that once caused happiness has been shattered, and the artist draws from that experience. Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know is in between on the muse front: it’s good that the romantic relationship is over, but when the friendship and civility disappear, it’s painful. In sheer joy, a poet can exclaim, “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45). In Psalm 45, dwelling on God inspires art of praise. Muse can dictate the outcome of art.

Artists should be inspired by the pain and joy in their relationships and circumstances. The art this produces resonates with art-observers. But if the fluctuations of life are all there is to our art, I am afraid it will be detrimental to us as artists. Think about it: if I look only to myself and my experiences, what happens when there is nothing left to draw from? What if my art only ever reflects my feelings and my circumstances? Emptiness is the product of self-centered and victimized (others-centered, circumstance-centered) muse. (Trust me).

I write poetry (although I would not call myself a poet). When I was around fifteen or sixteen, I wrote a poem called Journey to Nowhere.  It reflects much of the emptiness and nothingness I felt at the time. I was pretty much numb to life. My muse was nothing tangible, just an enemy I’d wrestled with (and still wrestle with sometimes) – but an enemy I’d kept close. That was undoubtedly one of the darkest periods of my life.  I’ve never shared the poem with anyone, and I’m not planning on sharing it now, but I do keep it around.

I was lacking something when my art was dictated only by feelings, circumstances, relationships. I had no personal relationship with God or His Son Jesus, and had wrong conceptions of Him. My God-view affects my world-view and art-view, and believe me, how you view God also affects you and your art. 

I recently wrote another poem. (I should qualify that I have written many poems during the interim). It’s about how I view myself, and God’s answers to my views – how He views me. It stems from things God has been growing me in since the beginning of my senior year in college. It deals with painful things, it asks hard questions. While I still have an imperfect view of God, dwelling on Him and how He sees me based on His Word, sets this poem volumes apart from Journey to Nowhere.

When writing it, I was not necessarily dwelling on my feelings, circumstances, and relationships, but I acknowledged them. They’re important. More important, however, is what God has done and is doing through these feelings, circumstances, and relationships. In order for my art to have right perspective, He has to come first in the muse process.

So my challenge is to artists. Will you think about what you’re thinking about when creating art this week? I mean, seriously engage. What is it that’s fueling your creativity?

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film. She is also a prolific writer and the facilitator of FortyOne20 Ministries. She desires to see artists come to know Jesus and be as artists committed to knowing Jesus and making Him known through art.