Christian Herald Article
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001
From: Tim Ellison
Just read your article in Christian Herald about visual language
and I could not agree with you more. I work with kids and with
my groups I try each week very hard for them to have something
visual to take home with them each week that points to the truth
we are trying to teach them about that week. Can you recommend
Christian websites/ministries who take this visual culture seriously?
Wed, 24 Jan 2001
your article -item 1 in your newsletter which was published in
the Christian Herald in Britain 20/1/01. I am a Christian who
is hoping to get a message over through film - BBC films are interested
in one of my screenplays at the moment. It's difficult to get
Christian people to see working in the media as a mission - seems
too 'worldly' to many yet they complain about the standards of
films currently available! Christian Herald also introduced me
to your website for which I'm very grateful.
God bless you and your ministry, Fred
Your article in this week's Christian Herald...
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001
I'm writing to commend you on your article that you wrote in the
20 January 2001 Christian Herald about visual arts and Christianity,
and particularly the focus on comics. As someone who has worked
in the comics industry for a number of years, both here and in
France, and who is slightly obsessed with the comics medium, it
was refreshing to see someone writing about comics with an informed
perspective. There are comics created by Christians, but as you
noted they really haven't entered the mainstream - at least not
in the UK. In the States, the Jack Chick pamphlets are very popular
and have been read by millions of people -- their content may
not be very sound, but they are widespread. In France and Belgium,
Christian comics account for about 6% of the total BD market,
and have been produced by some of Francophone comics' most famous
authors; cartoonists like Jije, Franquin, and many others have
produced Biblical comics. So popular are they, that a Belgian
organisation called ! CRIABD has been set up to research into
the application of the comics artform to Christianity, and they
produce a magazine 3 times a year called Coccinelle. They have
a stand at the Annual Festival International de la Bande Dessinee
in Angouleme, France (taking place next weekend in fact), and
present an international prize to the best Christian comic of
the year. So the stage really is set for a revival in the world
of Christian comics. Thanks again for bringing it to a wider audience.
Best wishes, Yours in Him,
--- Brad Brooks
Design Consultant New Wine Conferences
Equipping Churches to Extend Jesus' Kingdom
IS LOOKING UP
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001
From: Bill Dalgleish
thanks for your article on visual arts in Christian Herald this
week. Yea, poor profile in our churches. In 'my' church things
are beginning to look up with the efforts of 4 pro. actors who
organise near-regular arts cafes where vis. art is displayed,
etc. I am a creator not an organiser of creative events so I Keep
producing trusting God will open doors.
again Bill Dalgleish
Date: 20 Jan 2001
From: Armando Capo email@example.com
I ran across your website today and read with interest your presentation
of Jesus in today's pop culture. After a period of intense spiritual
growth, I have changed directions in my life and decided to dedicate
myself to my art. I feel you will greatly enjoy my first "professional"
work as it is about Jesus in particular (my one and only childhood
You may see
it at: http://www.victory-series.com
I hope you enjoy it and I thank you in advance for taking the
time to visit my site.
Sincerely, Armando Capo firstname.lastname@example.org
VIEW TO HELP
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001
From: Dimitri Tsouris
In response to your article in the Christian Herald newspaper
(UK) re: the churches neglet of the visuals........... I have
writen the following with a view of helping the churches to get
back on line and fulfil their their God given mandate within ALL
Counter culture ethics in art practice (Subversive art) Introduction:
It is my belief that the purposes of Gods kingdom are directly
subversive to many of the prevailing social and economic goals
of our dominant modern commercial culture. I believe the kingdom
of God is an inverted or upside down way of life in contrast to
the usual or prevailing social order.
: The voice of one crying in the wilderness Prepare the way of
the Lord Make his paths straight Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked
shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
John the Baptist
shouted these words of Isaiah the prophet as a red carpet for
the advent of Jesus. The Baptist used four images to describe
the coming kingdom: filled valleys, levelled mountains, straightened
curves and smooth rough places.
of exaltation - Othe Magnificatı - also announces an upside down
inverted way of life to come with many radical consequences.
: He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts
he has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those
of low degree he has filled the hunger with good things and the
rich he has sent away empty
of people are in for a shock of their lives. The positions at
the top of the social pyramid occupied by the proud, the rich
and the mighty are shattered. Things are not what they appear
to be. Patterns of social organisation which are routinely taken
for granted in modern culture are questioned be kingdom values.
of the social/political and the practice of art making cannot
be detached or separated from each other. The need to be aware
of these disciplines is required of the Christian mind if our
art is to have an influence or impact in our communities. If our
art is be God honouring and a blessing, the Christian artist needs
be aware of contemporary cultural ethics, come out of isolation
and engage with the world in such a way as to have a credible
answer for the faith and work. Not some bland evangelical pat
answer. If we are to bring about change - then we must turn the
tide of Christian art that is mediocre, self-satisfying and lacks
any real credibility and says nothing !
It is also
my belief that we are first called to be culture makers, to be
leaders in our field, to be God honouring stewards which runs
against the grain of our modern consumerist society, so that the
Christian creative might touch the heart of the corner newspaper
seller or so inspire the sinful character into effective and transforming
nature, so that this action and execution becomes the divine model
for societal preparation of the establishment of Gods kingdom
of all things involves everything in God's created order, means
to lay hold of whatever discipline there is and apply God honouring
work practice. The Christian creative person is one who works
and shapes and forms with materials out of the ground, builds
and constructs, but one who applies a different mind set and one
who has a different view of life.
of man to be a steward does not simply mean to be 'green' and
environmental, but has a plethora application of cultivating and
giving shape and form to the creation structure, all within the
God given covenanted task. What does this mean? It means to apply
acceptance and appreciative worth to the things we can see and
the things we cannot see and to work in whatever field of talent
and expertise with all good workmanship. We have, therefore, been
called to be 'culture makers'.
is lacking, is not the expertise or technical skills of the artist,
but the enthusiasm that gives light and life to the vision of
a Biblical mandate for the arts. Vision is so important. Vision
goes beyond the spirit of utilitarianism to freedom of the artform,
which transcends self and piety to bring about God honouring fulfilment
in art practice that changes the world. The church has fufilled
this task many times before - and it can be done again.
As we enter
the 21st century I perceive a certain trait within the church;
that is, that much of the churches lifestyle and spirituality
is privately engaging but at the same time socially irrelevant.
While there are some wonderful social and political engagements
with the world today, there is the vibrant and caring nature in
the growth of the church, but on the other hand, what we observe
is that, far from being a counter-culture, the churchıs lifestyle
appears to be the same as that of the rest of the world in itıs
outworking in relational, ethical, business and social structures
and realities. Rather than leading in the major disciplines of
life, the church seems to be led through all manner of unbiblical
legislation. By our mere absence and non-involvement in the world,
(retreating from the 'inful and evil worldı) we not only endorse
but give credence to non biblical cultural traits. The influence
ought to be from the Christian sector in our society with Biblical
counter-culture ethics and standards.
Christian church's many interactions within our communities, towns
and cities, overall, we can say the church has little or no effect
at the end of the twentieth century, (or so it would seem) as
the faith of the people within it is so individual and personal,
that it has no social relevance whatsoever. That great institution
of the 'Christian social interactionı of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries which gave rise to many child, family, educational institutions
hospitals, care centres, Sunday schools, ethical work practices
etc have all but disappeared. The same powerhouse that led those
great movements is still the same and remains at the churches
disposal. The difference today, is that we have relegated so much
of that needy work to the state and have washed our hands of the
outworking of the true gospel and all itıs implications, and the
arts are no exception to this ruinous road. The question therefore
needs to be asked is - why the church of late does not live out
itıs confession. Like wise with the arts, the church gave rise
to so many aspects of the artist and craftspeople over the centuries
that began great and wonderful artistic creations throughout Europe.
From stain glass windows to stone carvings, from frescoes and
icons to beautiful ornamented wooden structures and exquisitely
executed embroideries. Past history shows us that during the Renaissance
and the ensuing Reformation and Barooque eras, the church led
in so many art forms that this gave rise to an incredible leap
forward with new, vibrant expressions of art. Handelıs Messiah,
Bachıs Ayre in G, Miltonıs Paradise Lost. The Renaissance of the
1400 to 1600s saw such great artist as Dante, Giotto and Cimabue
as part of the great Christian tradition in the arts that eventually
led the world.
leadership carried forward into the Reformation with believers
such as Handel, Bach, Rembrandt, Milton, Vermeer and many others.
It here interesting to note that many of these Christian artists
were supported by Christian patrons of the arts. They were willing
to invest in the giftings and talents of so many of the artists
at that time, that gave rise to this extraordinary push forward
in the world of the arts. Great emphasis was made with tremendous
sacrifices inorder to nurture and promote their artists. Overall,
this support undergirded these great artist which in turn allowed
them to grow in maturity in their art and go on to lead the world.
patrons have all but gone, the artist left to their own devices
and the consequence of art practice remains singular in its complacency,
with much of the work nothing but shallow and mediocre, nestling
in its non-confrontational security. If this description and view
of the state of Christian arts as perceived by myself (and many
others) is offending and cruel - it is not ment to be but rather
a warning shout from high on the walls of this world, that the
Christian artist has to think more than how they will make their
money and enter into dialogue and art practice with a prophetic
and challenging practice.
³We live in
the presence of the future² said one commentator regarding Kingdom
values. The Christian artist has to live in the coming Kingdom
realm, preparing with strong innovative, stirring and provocative
and subversive artwork that will not only excite and give honour
to the Creator but bring about change in the midst of our society.
To be continued . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
is a full time painter of contemporary Ikons, arts co-ordinaotor
and speaker on the arts. He is married to professional dancer
Vivienne Tsouris. Working together as husband and wife under the
title of 'artsWORLD'. Website: appleonline.net/arts/artsword
Bias against the visual
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001
From: "Margaret FRANKS"
read your article in the Christian Herald with great interest.
I couldn't agree more that the church is missing out on a wonderful
channel for the grace of God to be revealed in exciting creative
You ask why?
I think we are still reacting from the Catholic idolatry of a
few centuries ago. A local, Free Evangelical Church had a long,
anguished debate as to whether to put up a plain wooden cross
on the back wall of the Church! Would that be distracting from
the "pure" spirituality of the Gospel? That was a few years ago.
I do see signs of change. In many Churches homemade banners, of
varying quality it is true, are appearing. Some of these are gorgeous
collages and/or embroidered texts which are a delight to look
at and inspiring. I have an artist friend who has had exhibitions
of her Christian art in churches and conducted workshops for the
congregations. But it's slow work. Many older people have no confidence
in themselves that they could produce anything worthwhile. But
the youngsters are having better training in schools and are more
willing to tackle creative work. Drama now seems to be welcomed
in churches - but dance(!) especially here in conservative rural
England is another matter!!
is another side to this question. Protestant England at least
finds a lot of the baroque decoration in continental European
churches grotesque, sentimental BAD taste! I went to Santiago
de Compostella, the wonderful pilgrim Church in Northern Spain.
The church was a beautiful buillding; the atmosphere among the
packed expectant congregation of thousands was electric! It was
a marvellous experience to be there. However the High Altar was
a monument to incredible bad taste. It looked like a fairground
organ! Huge ugly grotesque cherubs and nasty looking angels and
St James covered in gaudy gold leaf!! Ugh! Am I just showing my
middle England prejudices?
I am delighted
to have discovered your web site.
Yours sincerely Margaret Franks.
P.S. How dare the American Bible Society omit those wonderful
illustrations from the Good News Bible???!!! What were they thinking
about? What possible reason could they have had for doing that?
PROTESTANT CHRISTIAN SPEAKS
Subject: Why do Protestant Christians Reject the Visual Image?
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001
Hello my name
is Neil, and I'm one of those protestant christians, but let me
explain. There are serveral stand points to why many protestants
don't watch movies. Some have heard it was bad, because of the
large amount of immorality that is shown on the screen, others
are justashamed of the fact that they do watch movies and TV and
don't want people to condem them of this desire.
Well, I don't
watch movies, or even own a TV for many reason, that I can show
you through scripture and opinion, so let me begin. I was never
a Christian all my life, and was an athiest for most of my life.
I saw and heard the expression of let's spend family time together,
and it was in front of the TV. This alone produced a hole in families.
Because, there are so many other things, that can be done in a
more productive way. Some say you can limit you viewing time,
and limit what you watch, then thats great, but a magority of
people can't, which explain why the average americain spend 4
hours a day watching Televison, and that ever house has 2.1 Television
in it. (I have read these stats, and will try to get them if needed).
Thats is 1/6 of a day is spend in ones home watch TV, 2/6 for
sleep, 2/6 for work or school, 1/6 to eat, shop, travel from different
places. But I ask this, Where is time to PRAY, READ THE BIBLE,
CHURCH TIME, AND TELL PEOPLE ABOUT GOD. I feel that is a major
reason why most protestant don't watch visual imagery.
(Do you really think Protestant Christians
spend all their available time in devotional and evangelistic
isn't good enough to base a spiritual or church reasoning of my
we shouldn't. SO let's see what the Bible say about these isssues.
This one does it for me, and isn't just for Tv, but many forms
of media. "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication,
wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder,
debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God,
despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient
to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural
affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of
God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not
only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Romans
1:29-32 The King James Version. The verse state that they which
do these things are worthy of death, but we stop there.
(The stories in the Bible is filled with such
things too. But I think I understand your point)
continues and say them that have pleasure in them also. So the
pleasure or enjoyment of the action expressed in themare wrong
also. I agree, that not every TV show, and movie has, them but
a large majority does, so I don't care to watch. Some will say,
but I don't the movie for those reasons, I ask, what better things
can you do for Christ with that time. Also I shall share a true
story at the end.
verse "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the
work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me." Psalms
101:3 The King James Version
me to the fact that once again, many visual images are contrary
to the Word of God.
Heres, a valid
point also, Mant christian (An Demonation) don't know there Bible.
I have friends that say the weirdest things about why they do
or don't do somethings, but don't have any true reason why they
believe and do or dont do that something. Many people are religious
in that aspect.
showed a christian movie to a group of young people on my request.
I meantion at the begin to have an open mind. We watch the mvie,
and after, many complained about the effects were bad, the taping
was out of a home video camera, and other faults. Out of that
group of 40 people, 3 said that the message was good, and it touched
there heart. That is what it really is about. What do you see
in amovie I ask you?
(Judging from your grammar, and story telling
ability, I think you would be served well by viewing movies and
reading something besides the King James Bible.)
the brownie story,
a single father with two young daughters. The daughters came on
day and said, "Dad, I really wanna watch this movie. Everyone
else has seen it. There are only a few swear words, and very little
voilence. Please Daddy, please." He told her "No.", but she still
try to press him. The father said, "Go outside play, and I make
you some Brownies, then we can discuss it." She then went outside
to play, and after an hour or so, he called them in for the brownies.
They ran in and sat at the table, as daddy brought them over.
"The smell great daddy, can me have some." she said. He placed
them on the table, and they held hands to pray for the food. As
they finished then said, "Ohh, before you eat the brownies, I
need to let you know I changed the recipe a little. But, don't
worry it still smells good. I did put the coco, flour, (and many
other ingrediants), and little pinch of dog poo." he told them.
The daughter said, "Dad, thats not good. They aren't good anymore."
"But why, it's just a little bit of dog poo. I won't hurt you."
he replied. She start shaking her head, and say that she wasn't
going to eat. He then said, "What about that movie, it only has
a little bit of swearing and violence. Isn't that the same thing?"
(Motion Pictures are just that -moving pictures.
And some pictures are "good" and some "bad."
But, you seem to suggest that film itself as bad is dog poo! -Dog
Well if you
won't more information let me know ok.
Thanks Neil =====
POINTS TO CONSIDER
Date: 6 Jan 01
From: Daniel Baer
Hello! I read
your article about evangelicals and the visual arts. I wish I
had good answers to your query. Alas, I don't. I did want to bring
up some points which perhaps might shed some light on the issue,
I have no
idea whatsoever why evangelicals haven't produced any great painters.
This is a genuine puzzle to me (a puzzle that only entered my
mind as I read your article). As to that part in your query-article
regarding film and evangelicals, perhaps I might be able to say
a word or two . . . .
an evangelical movie (I forget the title--about the end of times)
in which there is much dialogue but not much imagery. As a wannabe
movie director/screen writer, when I think of plots and then imagine
ways to flesh out my plots, I find that dialogue as a method of
plot advancement is often what first occurs to me. This first
jab at fleshing out my plot, however, is something I often end
tossing into my circular file--in short, my first jab is often
lousy and unacceptable. So perhaps the lack of visual imagery
in the end times movie you mention is more a function of inexperience--not
knowing enough to hold out and brain storm longer for a more creative
way of depicting--than a shunning of visual imagery per se.
visual images are something which--because of their power--frighten
off many evangelicals. After all, visual images are often used
toward bad ends. Think about how much film and television emphasizes
hypersexuality through the use of women (and now men) prancing
around wearing next to nothing. Think about all the gratuitous
that the term "evangelicals" as used in the academy refers to
more than just fundamentalists, but even making use of this broader
definition of the word I do think that in general evangelicals
are hindered by more literal interpretive styles than, say, Catholics
or mainline Protestants. (I say this intending no disparagement
of evangelicals--I come from an evangelical background and still
feel more at home with them than with other Christians.) This
might be the reason that evangelical films are not all that metaphoric
but rather remain all on one level. Perhaps this somehow ties
into visual imagery in that imagery we often consider creative
and particularly fascinating depicts something otherworldly--as
opposed to the car crashes, sunsets, flora and fauna, etc. of
this worldn and time. (Think BLADERUNNER--my favorite film. The
visual imagery in Bladerunner is stunning. That the film is set
in the future allowed Ridley Scott a lot of play with the sets,
costume design, etc. which he otherwise might not have had.)
I think many
evangelicals feel very ambivalent about film--perhaps more so
than other Christian groups. I can't say I often don't feel the
same way. Take my favorite movie, BLADERUNNER. I find some parts
of BLADERUNNER objectionable--to the point that I often resist
talking it up to those who haven't seen it. There are other parts
of the film I find myself puzzled by--gray areas in which I'm
not sure whether I should find them objectionable and, if so,
to what degree.
instance, that part in the movie when Priss performs a series
of backhandsprings toward Deckard (her intent is to kill him),
only to be shot at and killed by Deckard at the last moment. When
Priss dies, she convulses uncontrollably--arms, legs, and head
boucing up and down at lightning speeds.
On an intellectual
level, I just know Ridley Scott included this in the film because
of its graphic power. I mean, I can just see the cogs turning
in Scott's mind . . . backhandsprings--cool!, a last second gunshot--cool!,
wild convulsion--really cool! Also on an intellectual level, I
find this scene immature and somewhat ridiculous. Why on earth
would Priss decide to kill Deckard by backhandspring-ing after
him? Why wouldn't she just run after him in a normal way? Clearly,
the backhandsprings were used because of their visual "coolness"
as opposed to any requirement of the plot.
On an emotional
level, however, I find myself attracted to the backhandspringing.
I, too (and particularly when I was younger--I remember seeing
the film as a teenager), find myself feeling that the backhandsprings
are somehow neat-o. (Incidentally, I suspect many other people
like this kind of thing, too--think about all the gymnastics in
THE MATRIX--a movie which I consider in large part an excuse for
gymnastics and kung fu--which is the most aesthetic form of fighting.)
But--and this is important--I also find that my emotional self
is experiencing something of possible danger when I watch this
scene. The gunshot, the bloody wound, the convulsions--I sense
something wrong about using killing to whip up and stir our visual
sensations (even if one of the points of the movie is that androids
should be treated as humans are treated).
more than any other Christian group--place an emphasis on examining
and re-examining their purity of heart. (Think Martin Luther--his
obsession about his own sin led him to the idea of "grace, not
works." Also, think of the Christian Perfectionists (Nazarenes,
etc.)--a minority group among evangelicals, to be sure, but nevertheless
a group which oftentimes interacts and mingles easily with other
evangelicals despite their heterodox belief that humans can obtain
moral perfection on this earth. Please note: I'm NOT suggesting
that Catholics, mainline Protestants, etc. don't care about their
purity of heart or that they don't place a sufficient level of
emphasis on this.)
the emphasis which evangelicals place on inward purity leads them
to shun talking about films which have objectionable components
to them. You mentioned that evangelicals go to movies in droves;
as you know, however, a difference exists between going to a movie
and analysing one.
On a positive
note, evangelicals have done wonderful work in Christian music.
I listen to Christian radio most of the time and never feel that
I'm trading quality of music for Christian lyrical content. Twenty
years ago, however, I would have felt otherwise. So there is hope
One last thing--we
can't get too frustrated at the lack of quality films made by
evangelicals. While things are slowly changing, up to very recently
MANY groups hardly had any representatives in the world of film.
Women, for example, have been seriously under-represented. Some
minority groups have been unrepresented, too. Other minority groups
are amazingly over-represented--Jewish men, for example, account
for a stunningly high percentage of movie directors and producers.
(NOT that, in the latter case, this is due to some anti-Semitic
conspiracy.) My point here is simply that the strange levels of
representation are indicative that those groups who are under-represented
have untapped potential--something which some analyses of the
situation might not suggest.
your website! I do enjoy it! Take care and have a great New Year!
Sincerely, Daniel Baer email@example.com
CHURCH IS AFRAID OF WORDLY CORRUPTION
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2001
From: Gary Stokes
for your newsletter on image and the church. It was very insightful.
I agree with you that the church lacks in the area of images and
visual arts. I think that the church has associated the arts as
being "wordly" and is afraid of being "corrupted". I think the
church has lost an edge when it denied it's artistic side. I am
finding that there is more truth in "non-christian" things, i.e.
music, film. Thanks for your great wedsite and newsletters.
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