23 July, 2011

On "Christian" Art

This is from an interview with my cousin. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have grown up in a family where ideas like this are emphasized. Really can't imagine my English major self if I'd somehow missed this crucial point.

"I hate to even make the concession it requires to refer to some movies and stories as "Christian." Practically speaking, I'm not sure what it means to be a Christian story. I know what it is to be a beautiful movie, and this has everything to do with excellence of craft and integrity of theme and story. It makes sense to me that anything that is a beautiful movie should also be esteemed by Christians. I do make the distinction that some stories are sacred in that they are relating Biblical or explicitly religious images and history. Using this language, we could say that there have been sacred stories that are unchristian, like The Last Temptation of Christ and Kingdom of Heaven. . .

The greatest "epiphanies of beauty" (JPII, Letter to Artists) in storytelling today are coming from artists who are outside of any real attachment to a faith community. Movies like the 2006 Best Foreign Oscar film, The Lives of Others. Or Jason Reitman's wonderfully and unintentionally pro-life film, Juno. I have never experienced in any Christian film what Aristotle referred to as "tragic wonder," but I have felt it in Precious, and The Hurt Locker and Sophie Scholl and In the Bedroom and Requiem for a Dream. None of those films were made by Christians, but they are much, much more beautiful and consequently Christian than the banal and badly crafted Christian sub-culture products like Facing the Giants, Bella, Therese, and Fireproof
In short, if we serve the beautiful and honor the story we have the chance of finding both. If we set out, instead to foment a spirit of triumphalism in the Church, then story and beauty will evade us; and also any really lasting good."

1 comment:

Mark Mahaffey said...

At the college I attended, they actually had rules on what movies students could and could not watch, a policy I spent a great deal of time combatting. Many of the same arguments and pleas here: http://mhssoftware.xanga.com/599758922/the-naked-intellect-a-short-rebuttal-to-dr-joel-williams/