“Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person as a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life. Art is not to be solely a vehicle for some sort of self-conscious evangelism.”
— Francis Schaeffer, Art & the Bible
I alluded the other day to a bucket full of reasons that I’ve been rather silent lately, and to be honest, I’ve been trying to narrow down the whirlwind of thoughts in my head into something coherent that I can post here. There are so many things going on in our lives right now that it’s hard to pick just one thing to blog about. I have a very long list of comments, commentaries, opinions, anecdotes, ruminations, and witticisms that I’d like to post, but narrowing it down is . . . challenging.
But after some more thought, I’ve decided to post some more thoughts about art–and more specifically, the role of art in my life. The role of my art in my life.
Confession: My art was writing. I was a writer. I was a professional writer for seven years, and I wrote fiction as well for part of that time period. I even self-published some of it under another name. And for now, that’s as much as I will say. The self-published works are gone, unpublished, and I am no longer marketing myself as a professional business writer. I went underground nearly a year ago, and I’ve not surfaced under that old name since.
But as I’ve mentioned here before, putting that art aside has been painful. Did I say painful? I mean gut-wrenching. Brutal. I’ve missed it as I’ve missed a limb. I’ve grieved it as I would grieve the loss of a dear friend. I’ve pined for it. I’ve tried to say that it will pass, that I will find other things to do with my time, that I won’t miss it after a while.
The truth? The truth is that I’ve been lying to myself.
I’ve discovered that when I refuse to indulge in my chosen art–writing fiction–my creative nature leaks out the edges. I end up sewing 12 camo cinch packs in a day or knitting 60 hats, scarves, pairs of gloves/mittens/handwarmers, and cowls in a four-month period. Filling up my time has not been a problem at all–not with American Heritage Girls and school and Bible studies for middle schoolers and all of the other things I do.
But, but, but . . .
My Muse demands indulgence.
I have agonized, wept, fought, gnashed my teeth over this. I have prayed for this need and desire to be taken from me. I have begged God to just erase this all from my heart, mind, and soul. I have wished a thousand times–more–that I had never let this genie out of the bottle.
And still . . . Still, I want–no, need–to write.
I recently stumbled upon Francis Schaeffer’s Art and the Bible, and it was like drinking from a cool stream after a long hike. I devoured his essays on art in a morning, and I came to five realizations:
- I am a storyteller–I’m wired that way–and there’s really nothing I can do to permanently shut that off.
- If I’m a storyteller, God’s the One who made me that way, and so I have to acknowledge that there must be a reason He did that.
- God is pleased with art. God loves beauty, and it doesn’t always have to be a precise representation of the world.
- The worldview of the artist is more important than the medium or style of the art. It’s all right to appreciate technical excellence even when you don’t agree with the worldview. But also, the Christian artist has an opportunity to share a worldview, even if the artist doesn’t necessarily share the gospel itself or preach repentance. And that there are artists who are NOT necessarily Christians who can, nevertheless, share a worldview that is compatible with Christianity.
- The ideal intersection of worldview and technical excellence results in the best works of art. When the Christian allows a proper, biblically centered worldview to emerge through technically excellent execution, then that brings glory to God and His Kingdom.
Where does this leave me?
I have mentioned in previous posts that I occasionally have interactions with people from my “old life.” I’ve had several such interactions lately. These people do not know each other, and yet they all speak from a biblically centered worldview. They assure me that my previous works of art were valid, worthwhile, of high quality. They suggest–gently, kindly, but forcefully enough–that perhaps I listened to too many outside voices and took those opinions too much to heart. They remind me that, while they understand that being a mom has to be my first priority, I cannot shut off the faucet of these stories forever. If the stories are in my head, they must come out in some way.
And . . . They are right.
I opened a document the other night. Mr. P “caught” me. When he dragged out of me the truth of my activities–that I was writing–he just chuckled. “Honey,” he said, “you don’t have to be embarrassed. You don’t have to apologize. You are who you are, and I love you. Just write.”
And so . . . once again, I am a writer.
For now, for this moment, it is enough.
Till next we meet . . .