I dislike rants. I dislike reading blogs that frequently post rants. But I understand the occasional overwhelming desire to vent, to open your personal door into the blogosphere and scream at the top of your lungs, "This is driving me nuts and I'm not going to take it anymore!" This would be one of those times. This topic has been simmering in my brain for a while now, and the more I read and encountered online the more it began to churn until it has boiled over. So... commence rant in three, two, one...
Art is Not Evil
Art, in and of itself, is not evil, but it is powerful. By "art" I mean all creative expressions: visual arts like painting and sculpture, as well as theater, television, movies, literature, poetry, music, dance, etc. I really think that Christians, and Americans in general, need to become better educated about the arts and the various languages these mediums use to communicate, such as the splice cuts, extreme close-ups and moving images of a film, or the musical chords and tonality in a score. We need to become media savvy. I also think, as Christians, we need to study both the Bible and history, and learn that artistic ability is a gift from God. We need to recognize how the arts can be used to reflect His truths. In fact, throughout much of history, Christianity was the driving force behind the arts and culture. The church was at the forefront of creative expression and innovation. How did we get it all turned around, and the church is now the last one to the party when it comes to cultural influences and has been relegated to simply reacting to all the evil that is in the arts and touting that it should be avoided at all costs?
Learn the Language
The arts are a powerful tool for communication. They can communicate an idea, a feeling, an emotion, a message. Each artistic branch has its own set of tools to communicate with. For example, literature is built up with symbolism, allegories, metaphors, foreshadowing, overarching themes, etc. One of the biggest rules in writing is to "show, don't tell" your audience what you want them to know. How do you do that? By the use of these many tools. If you don't understand the devices and how they are used, you won't understand what is being communicated. The same thing goes for major and minor notes or rhythm in music, or the composition and use of colors in a painting or printed image. When we don't understand the language of a given artistic medium, then we are more prone to making erroneous assumptions and split-second judgments about the content or message of the piece, which leads to my next point.
Dull Salt and Dim Light