I was asked a while back to speak at the Band of Bloggers event at The Gospel Coalition conference, which was this month in Chicago. I was happy to go and be one of the eight panel members discussing being "Servants and Stewards" through our blogs. Each panelist was given 7 minutes to answer a particular question on blogging. Mine was "What is the place for art and culture in Christian blogging?" Here's a general outline/recap of my talk. It always comes out differently than I write it down, but should still be helpful. You can also view the handwritten notes from my Moleskine that I used for my talk (page 1, page 2 - page 2 is really my talk outline and page 1 quotes that I referred back to).
*As I stood to talk I took a shot at my friend and co-panelist, Justin Taylor, who has yet to spent $9 on a domain name, but still has one of the best read Christian blogs in the universe. Justin, seriously, buy a domain name. :)
1. Art - Beauty -- mention I don't have the time to explain a theology of the arts; assume the audience assumes it (later quotes should be an encouragement to look further into the arts)
2. Blogs -- mention that because we have different kinds of blogs with different purposes (pastor blogs, church blogs, personal blogs, family blogs, resource blogs, etc). I will explain what I do on my personal/pastoral networking blog and let the audience determine how to best blog on art & culture on their blogs.
3. Christians in general -- mention the need to enjoy, support, and create the arts; our blogs are a good place for us to do that
Abraham Kuyper quote, found in Art for God's Sake by Philip Ryken -- "Like God himself, we have 'the possibility both to create something beautiful, and to delight in it.'" - and I add "...on your blog"
Use the quote for a two part outline, in reverse. As we delight in and create art (and blog on it), we encourage others to do the same.
1. To Delight
Someone who delights in the arts is called an arts patron (observer, supporter, advocate). Use the questions from and Tim Keller quote in "Are you a patron?"
Have you attended an arts event or venue in the last six months?(live music concert, museum or gallery, play, dance performance, independent film, etc.)
Do you have a favorite art form that you particularly enjoy experiencing and learning about?
Do you occasionally attend different types of arts events/venues, besides your favorite?
Do you have a favorite artist or arts organization whose work you follow closely?
Do you ever spread the word about a particular arts event or artist?
Do you sometimes look through the Arts section in newspapers or magazines?
Have you financially supported an arts organization or artist (outside of purchasing tickets) in the last year?
Do you know an artist, are you involved in his/her life, and are you actively supporting his/her career?
- The more "yes" answers = the better patron. Where there is a "no" it's good to stretch ourselves.
"Christians cannot abdicate the arts to secular society. We must consume, study, and participate in the arts if we are to have a seat at the table. Whether it has a religious theme or strikes us as irreligious, we must be patrons if we are to have an impact on how the world interprets and responds to the arts. We cannot be wary, we cannot be afraid, we cannot be self-righteous. Christians must look, listen, read, and experience the arts if we are to lead our culture to renewal." - Tim Keller (via)
*As I mentioned I was going to quote Keller I took a second to mention my Tim Keller Resources page. Then I told the attenders that they received a Tim Keller book in their bags (each received 10 books as a part of attendance). I told them Keller's new book is very short and titled Unfashionable, which includes a lengthy epilogue by Tullian Tchividjian. As you probably know, attenders did get Tullian's book which includes a 3 page forward by Keller. People laughed. [By the way, get Tullian's book. Like it a lot so far. He graciously signed my copy after.]
How I delight in the arts at Reformissionary...
Music Monday: I use my enjoyment of music to fuel a weekly post on music, CD's, music videos, concert experiences, etc. Illustration: recently at the Brandi Carlile concert my wife, Molly, for the first time heard the background singers because she could see them. It was a learning moment for her. Patronage increased her appreciation for and delight in music. Now the CD sounds different to her. As we blog on these kinds of experiences we will encourage others to become a patron and delight as well.
National Poetry Month: Each April I blog on National Poetry Month with numerous poems, poet highlights, videos of poetry readings, etc. We can take advantage of nationally recognized arts emphases to become patrons and to encourage patronage.
2. To Create
"The characteristic common to God and man is apparently that: the desire and the ability to make things up." - Dorothy Sayers in The Mind of the Maker
"The primal artistic act was God's creation of the universe out of chaos, shaping the formless into form; and every artist since, on a lesser scale, has sought to imitate him." - Perrine's Sound and Sense
How I blog on my creation of art at Reformissionary...
Phriday is for Photos: The last few years I have taken up photography. While I've been a little too infrequent in my Friday photographs lately, it's been a staple at Reformissionary for a long time. When I've slacked I've gotten notes from friends and readers mentioning they've missed it. Because I'm creating and blogging my art, my readers have been an encouragement to me to keep creating. And through blogging my photography I hope I've encouraged my readers to create themselves. Actually I can say that I have talked to several readers who have taken up photography because (at least in part) they have enjoyed my Phriday is for Photos posts. [One Band of Bloggers attender talked to me after the event and said he just upgraded from a Nikon d50 to d90, to some degree because of my blog. I'm jealous.]
Conclusion: A quote by Luci Shaw from her chapter "Imagination, Beauty, and Creativity" in The Christian Imagination (Ed. Leland Ryken)
"We were each, in the image of our Creator, created to create, to call others back to beauty, and the truth about God's nature, to stop and cry to someone preoccupied or distracted with the superficial, 'Look!' or 'Listen!' when, in something beautiful and meaningful we hear a message from beyond us, and worship in holiness our creator who in his unlimited grace, calls us to become co-creators of beauty."
Select art/culture websites:
Select art/culture podcasts: