I have a bachelors degree in theatre, and I am a Christian. There may have been a time where one might have considered it impossible for those two things to be true of one person. Perhaps I am a walking contradiction. Or, perhaps, in the words of Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday, “my hypocrisy knows no bounds.”
Or, perhaps, faith and the arts are compatible.
And this last option is where I hang my hat. But, for practical reasons, I found it hard to keep my hat on that peg. You see, I have varied interests. I was (and still am) an active participant in church. And I was (and still am) an active participant in theatre and other arts. But, if you work full time during the day, and do theatre at night, there’s little time for anything else. So, I found myself alternating between two lives, switching from participating in the church ministries that I loved , and any chance I could get to do theatre.
This turned out to not be the lifestyle I wanted to maintain indefinitely, so I started looking for a way to bring these two parts of my life into conversation, and perhaps even meld them together. Long story short, I ended up at theBrehm Center at Fuller Theological Seminary, working on a master’s degree on theology and the arts.
So here I am. And as I am nearing the end of my time at Fuller, it has come time to do my Master’s Thesis Project. Throughout my time here, I have spoken to many about the conversation between faith and art. But what about the people having the conversations about faith and art? I ask this because the conversations still seem, at times, rather disjointed–and many of the people already involved in the conversation still do not have contact with each other.
There are a number of questions we are dealing with to some degree or another: What makes art good? What makes art Christian? Should Christians be making art in the first place? Why does it seem that so much “Christian Art” seems so terrible? As an artist who is also Christian, does the message of Jesus Christ have to be directly communicated in my art? Does art have a place in the church/in church services? The list goes on ad infinitum. And, for many, these questions are just the very tip of a large iceberg that they have burrowed much further into. For some, these are the beginning questions that they have long since moved past. Plus, if this weren’t enough, what about all the people who don’t consider themselves artists? Or those who don’t consider themselves Christian? I think these questions are pertinent to all of the above, and it’s about time we are willing to dialogue with each other, to share our questions, and learn from each other’s discoveries.
There you have it: this is my experiment in public theology. An Experimental Master’s Thesis Project. And to kick things off, I want to know, what are your questions and thoughts about faith, art and religion? What have you discovered? (And remember, all viewpoints expressed with respect are welcome here).