Posts tagged ‘Muse’

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. 

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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.