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Traci Elliott
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Traci Elliott is now following Greg Garrett
Jan 27, 2011
The story I hope to write is about a man in our small town, who stands, sometimes, at the busiest intersection, with a cross made out of 2"x4"s. The boards have been sanded and stained. He has a laminated sign at the intersection of the boards that says, "JESUS!" He, himself, is pretty much unbelievable, appearance-wise, too. He has blond hair without any variation in color from strand to strand or from scalp to tip, like a bad wig, and teeth like a game show host. He stands out there, stepping into traffic sometimes, motioning at the sign and the cross, pointing up to the sky, giving thumbs-up to people who drive past. There's no way to doubt the sincerity of his experience -- he's as genuine as they come. I don't doubt the sincerity or truth of my own experience, either. But they clearly are very, very different. If God is God, what must this person be like on the inside? I'm not sure if your grandma would like my story, either. :)
For me, the difference between "Christian" art and the wider expanse of creative endeavors has to do with the mustard seed parable. Here in North Carolina, it's easy to translate the parable into horticultural terms. "The Kingdom of God is like a person sowed a field full of kudzu seeds ... " "Christian" art tends to present God as a figured-out diety, tidy and boxed up, intending a Reality where everything grows in nice, straight rows and makes sense to us. "Christian" art tends to depict God as ultimately rational and reasonable. As if God is bound by logic -- perhaps a more advanced logic than we can understand, but still by tally-sheet justice that one day we'll be able to figure out. Which is nice, I guess, but not really my experience of what God's like. My experience of God is more like that field full of kudzu, working against the status quo, doing pretty much everything in a sideways, unpredictable way that usually doesn't suit my vision of the way I'd like things to progress -- logically and straightforwardly. I think high quality art comes from people who are willing to plunge into that field of kudzu and experience God, participate in reality. I think most great art is terrifying to create, brings us into contact with the Something Greater than Ourselves that is God. I doubt that those artists' work generally happens in controlled, pre-planned, paint-by-numbers kinds of ways. Creators of "Christian" art, on the other hand, seem to stand at the edge of the field, resting their arms on the fence, admiring the neat furrows and crisp angles. They seem to praise the aspects of God that we can understand, that we can know with our logical minds. Maybe the distinction is between art that depicts the order that God brought out of chaos and art that depicts the chaos from which God brings order.
Traci Elliott is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 27, 2010