Re: Creativity query

Date: Wed Jul 31 2002 - 11:34:42 EDT

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                         george murphy
                         < To: "D. F. Siemens,
    Jr." <>
                         m> cc:,,
                         Sent by: Subject: Re: Creativity query

                         07/30/02 04:40

    "D. F. Siemens, Jr." wrote:

    >> I recall someone claiming that one can separate the poet from the
    >> producer of doggerel by a simple question: are the words or the message
    >> of primary importance. The one who loves the language may produce a
    >> The one who has to communicate a message will never write poetry, just
    >> verse.

    To which George Muphy responded:
    > I can't agree with you here. Consider, e.g., how much of the Bible -
    >not just the Psalms - is poetry. Heavily didactic poetry is generally bad
    >but it is certainly possible to communicate a message without falling into
    >that trap.

    That's right. Who are we to declare that art has to start with or without a
    message in mind. That's just arrogance. If art is supposed to be freely
    creative (as a secondary expression of God's original creativity - we don't
    create out of a mindless vacuum but necessarily start with something in our
    experience), why can't an artist be stirred to work by whatever starting
    point. There are great works of art that have had their genesis in the
    artist in all sorts of ways (message first, feeling first, language first,
    or whatever). Probably the best Christian artists are those in whom the
    message (God's kingdom life) so permeates their lives and thoughts that all
    their expressions in art deliver gospel truth without them having to
    constrain it to do so. Consider C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles (he is said
    to have stated that he did not set out to make an complete allegory of
    Christ and redemption, but that is what he accomplished), or the works of
    George MacDonald...Or how about the more contemporary Mitford books by Jan

    BTW, Discipleship Journal makes a point to feature and promote art by
    Christians. Several artists' works are featured in each issue and there is
    a little section called ArtTalk where they discuss the artists and issues
    of art/message.

    As for Christian music, we've all got our preferences. Contemporary music
    (of any sort) is accessible to many only through the industry of production
    and marketing. That has its challenges, and it results in a vast majority
    of the material being pretty shallow (though some of that material is still
    good clean fun for the kids). The really good, artful stuff is buried in
    the mix, too, but you have to learn a little bit about the artist to find
    out if they're the genuine article. I like John Michael Talbot (as was
    already mentioned) for staying true to his vision of simplicity and silence
    in his music. However, he isn't what I would characterize as extremely
    artful or creative; his stuff is mostly directly out of scripture. On the
    alternative music side, I highly cherish Terry Scott Taylor of the groups
    Daniel Amos, Swirling Eddies and The Lost Dogs. He has been part of
    Christian music for 30 years and is always on the cutting edge musically
    and lyrically. Sometimes I can't figure out what he's talking about in a
    song until some time later when I have an experience of some sort that
    prepares my mind to hear correctly - then it hits me. There are other,
    too, who are/were true to an artistic vision in their music: Mark Heard,
    Rich Mullins, Ragamuffin's, more recent Michael W. Smith, 77's, Charlie
    Peacock. In fact, Charlie Peacock has written at least one book on the
    subject of the arts and the state of the Christian music scene.

    Well, that's my bit...I know it's perhaps a little off the original topic.
    I'm sure there are whole other lists devoted to this very topic. On the
    original topic, VanDyke et al's book "Redeeming Creation" (IVP) may be of
    interest with regard to the environment and the Genesis directives to
    subdue the land.


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