Hans Fiene (known for his “Lutheran Satire“) wrote a brilliant piece at The Federalist last month pointing out the left’s inability to produce anything original; instead of creating any new gay or female characters they simply hijack well known ones like Captain America or James Bond. This isn’t creativity. It’s intrusive laziness.
Fiene goes on to note the same laziness in Christian art and media. Instead of producing original content we settle for mimicking whatever is trending in pop culture. And he’s absolutely right: it’s a sloppy attempt to capitalize on whatever will make a quick sale. We’ve taken the grand truths of the Christian faith and suppressed them into fun, feel-good name brands.
But it runs deeper than just commercialization–the recent lack of Christian creativity often stems from bad theology. Whether it be best-selling novels that confuse the Trinity or worship that wants you to get turned on by Jesus, ill doctrine shapes most of our art.
Why? Because Christianity as a whole has stopped being about truth and reverence and has become more about personalized emotionalism. Why bother with all that deep, philosophical nonsense when you just can just make a cheap grab for the heartstrings? Who needs theology when you’ve got feeling?
This has overflowed into the way we do books, movies and music. We’ve lost quality because we’ve lost substance. We’ve cheapened our art because we’ve cheapened our God.
I saw a terrific picture on social media that exploits some of this poor theology in the way we read our Bibles:
Its point is that we treat Scripture like isolated Sunday school lessons instead of connected chapters in God’s redemptive history. We treat the Bible like a bunch of illustrations to help us live better, rather than as the great tale of God and His people. We look at our faith as helpful hints and tidbits in order to live our best life now, rather than one epic narrative of God’s cosmic victory through His Son.
By doing so we’ve lost the grandeur and the scope of our own story and our own salvation.
This has drastically affected our art, because we no longer tell tales of the Great Story or the deep elements of which it is composed. Instead we settle for what is cheap and emotionally appealing. That’s why Christian bookstores are overstuffed with self-help nonsense. That’s why Christian music is full of one-syllable words repeated over and over. That’s why why Christian literature and movies are built on one-liners like “let go and let God.” There’s no depth. No majesty. No rich theology.
Compare that with the classics of Christian creativity like Milton’s Paradise Lost, Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress or Handel’s Messiah. Milton dealt with the cosmic impact of the fall. Bunyan dealt with the pilgrim’s quest to the Celestial City. Handel dealt with the nature and mission of Jesus Christ, including Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment.
They saw the magnitude of the Christian story. They saw a tale bigger and better than the standard “believe in Jesus and you’ll feel happy” garbage that’s shoveled out nowadays.
They told good stories because they were constantly aware of the Great Story. If we don’t recover the depth and doctrine of our faith, we will continue to be B-grade copycats. Instead of glorifying our Creator with creativity, we will continue to mock Him with commercialized laziness.
Let us be good musicians and writers and storytellers. After all, we have the best Story to tell.