Do the arts need redeeming?

By | December 12, 2011

An article I read recently, titled Birmingham is not New York: 5 Cautions for Arts Ministry, warns that “The grandiose language of redeeming art is unhelpful at best.”

Almost five years ago now I wrote somewhat glowingly about a paper put out by the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. The paper was titled Redeeming the Arts. What I wrote amounted to a preliminary review and didn’t actually address any sort of redemption, but instead reaffirmed some very basic notions within the arts and for the role of artists.

Regardless, the recent article reminded me of the Lausanne title. And, as such, I’m wondering what the author of Birmingham is not New York is really responding too. He points out that the language of redemption has become “ubiquitous” among evangelicals referring to the arts, but he doesn’t really elaborate on why redemption won’t work for the arts.

The idea of redeeming the arts isn’t something I really feel the need to address, so I might actually be in agreement with the author. I’m curious to know what other people think, though, other Christian artists.

Do the arts need redeeming?

1 Comment

steve scott on December 12, 2011 at 4:26 am.

I was a participant in the Lausanne arts concern group in Thailand in 04. I heard the caveats and cautions that surfaced around the R term then…and echoed through the more recent `Birmingham is not New York.’ I suggested there, as I re suggest now if you can `redeem’ the notion of `redeem’ from its somewhat layered and nuanced `theological’ spin and put it back into the real world marketplace where it meant to buy back something like a slave….. then some might say that art needs to be bought back from `market driven’ or institutionally sanctioned trends and `reframed’ in a larger context. Of course, not only Christians have been saying this. someone else might say that the arts need to be redeemed (or set free) from the suspicions, misunderstandings, or ill considered pragmatism at work among some groups of Christian believers…..Either way words like `redeemed’ will do a better job of making a viable contribution to the real issues at hand, once they have been restored to their original real world context.

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