Here’s another reason why the church is like art and should be approached by people willing to think of themselves like artists:
Form vs. Flow
There is a struggle at the heart of every person to both live within a form and break out of it–to burst over the banks and crash through the walls into something new. This is vividly portrayed in art. An artist will spend years developing the ability to speak through a certain medium, develop a style, hone their craft. It’s appropriate. They realize that flitting from form to form is disastrous–it ends with an inability to actually communicate what they feel and what they wish to portray. Eventually they come to realize that they need form. However, there are those moments when all the paints get thrown out. All the old colors are cast aside. The canvas is exchanged for the brick wall, etc… In other words their own creativity, the desire to birth something new can no longer live within the old and well developed form. So they strike out. They discover diversity and a meaningful difference. Some would be tempted to say that they no longer need form or use it. But the truth is, they’ve just changed forms. Even abstract painters or modern instillation creators are still inhabiting a particular place.
This is true of church. We invest ourselves in a place. We throw ourselves into a particular aspect of God or each other and experience it fully. Eventually though this changes. We struggle with what had previously been functional and now just feels like formula. Then we “blow it up”. We go back to the drawing board. it’s tempting, in that deconstructive and reconstructive phase, to think that we are tossing aside all form. The reality is that we are simply exchanging. We’re adapting. We’re being provoked. We’re investing in a different medium.
I believe there has to be a tension and a truce struck between inconoclasts/puritans who would shatter every idol (save the idol of shattering every idol), and those who cling to their distinct channels of worship. The truth is that we need both. There are two giftings at work here–prophet and priest. One calls out authentic truth and the other ministers through symbol and sacrifice. This leads to another similarity:
Discipline vs. Spontenaity
Most artists I know have both a rebel and a dictator vying for control of their soul And that’s a positive thing. On one hand there is the side of them that can be in the middle of conversation, then suddenly inspired runs to a wall and starts painting in a frenzy, mad vibrant colors. That’s pure spontenaity. You can’t restrain that kind of lightening strike, nor can you replicate it. But then there are the dry spaces…the times when you just don’t want to get out of bed. In those moments the dictator comes out and in spite of lack of inspiration you go and do what you have always done. You paint. You draw. You write. You sculpt. You create even when you’re uncreative. And then lightening strikes again.
The church is like this. My experience with church life is that it can be a constant war between those who long for spontenaity and those who want order or organization. But this needn’t be a war. We need both. One gives life to other in an infinte circle. We need to room to feel like its ok to dash away from what we were planning on doing. But we also need to plan on doing something so that we’re in the right spot at the right time. Faith practice gives birth to faith experience. There is a healthy balance.
At the end of the day creativity/art and church share the same dynamic tensions. Rather than casting one side out and only holding on to the part that makes sense to this moment, we embrace both and live in that tension. That itself is an act of creative empowerment.
Filed under: beauty, church | Tagged: art, church, creativity, discipline, Liturgy, spontenaity | 1 Comment »