Liturgical Art and Its Discontents

A friend of mine – a true artist of Christ – sent this quote to me and I would like to offer it to you for contemplation:

“Too many efforts to relate religion and the arts have stumbled because they attempt to channel the imagination into pious patterns. At the root of this failure is an underlying fear of the imagination itself- a force that can’t be tamed or made to fit into comforting, predictable categories. Believers who fear the imagination prefer art that doesn’t stray too far from the Church porch; they want to see things they already know gussied up with ornaments and flourishes. But art at its highest pitch tries to tell us things we don’t know, or have forgotten, and that can be unsettling. Also, the majority of our waking hours are not spent in church, but in the world. And if religion is too important to be confined to church services, then so is art that grapples with religious themes.”

Gregory Wolfe, publisher and editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion

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2 Responses

  1. Jamie,

    As a parent who wants his kids to have a perfect life and never have their faith challenged I understand that mentality.

    The only trouble is that the days of protecting children have gone up in smoke. “Prepare or die” has to become our motto.

  2. Whew, that’s a doozy of a quote. Having worked in the Christian publishing arena, I have seen how what sells best to most Christians is a tried-and-true formula: a heartwarming story of faith victorious over doubt, where evil is whispered.

    What is difficult is getting this across to parents, whose mission is to circle the wagons around their family until the last possible moment, when they hope their kids will bolt for their own encirclement.

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