Book Review: Imagine
Last week, I decided to read a book that's been sitting on my shelf for a long time, Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts
I do not consider myself to be an artist, but I have a passion for the arts and for artists. For too long, the church has neglected them, misunderstood them, ignored them, and many times hurt them. Yes-- artists are quirky, weird, moody, difficult, opinionated, and often do not play well with others. But you know what? That also sounds an awful lot like the Old Testament prophets.
Artists are prophetic voices in our communities. As their pastors, we must carry out our Ephesians 4:12 mandate and disciple them to use their gifts for the glory of God. Please note, I did not say "use their gifts for ministry," but "for the glory of God." Perhaps it's a semantics issue, but there is a subtle difference.
Imagine is written by Steve Turner, a man who has lived as a Christian on the frontlines of the entertainment industry for over 30 years. He is not a theorist but a practician. Steven opens the book by boldly declaring his vision for the reconciliation of arts and faith and he skillfully differentiates between "Christian art" and Christians who are artists. The following chapter gives a very good overview of the history of the often tenuous relationship between arts and the church. The book speaks to both the artist and to the church and covers topics such as discipleship, convictions, Bible and theology, the incorrect split between sacred and secular, and the challenges that both the church and the artist must face.
The thing I appreciate most about the book is the fact that he challenges both the church and the artist. He challenges the church to respect the power of art, disciple artists, help them find their voice and role in the Body of Christ, and give them a platform. He also challenges the artist to become fully participating members of the Body of Christ and to renew their art through the renewing of their mind and growing to be more like Christ.
Steve spoke of the struggle of the artistic Christ-follower: "They are already misunderstoond by the secular world because of their faith and now they are misunderstood by the church because of their art." I would encourage every pastor to read this book. You may disagree with some things in there, and that's okay. Art is not about resolution and answers but about struggle, questioning, and new perspectives. And that might be the first step we need to take in understanding how to disciple and incorporate these precious people into our communities of faith.
"The best art doesn't tell people what to believe, but enables them, for a short while, to see things differently, and the Christian can enable people to momentarily glimpse the world through eyes that have been touched by Christ." (Imagine, p. 115-116)