Day 365-- fin
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
My pal Andy Whitman, one of my favorite writers, posted something great on his 'blog. Why not close out the Year O' 'Blog with it?
He's responding to the argument that while high-church traditions have produced great art (and artists, especially writers), evangelicals have nothing. Keep in mind this is a position that I used to hold. Says Whitman:
Look, I love Flannery O'Connor as much as anyone. Kate will attest that I lobbied long and hard to name our first-born daughter Flannery in honor of Ms. O’Connor. She and the other High Church literary cherubim and seraphim – Graham Greene, Walker Percy, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien – have enriched my life tremendously. But Percy, the most contemporary of those writers, has been dead for fifteen years, and O'Connor, Greene, Lewis and Tolkien were writing fifty or more years ago. And you know what? In the intervening half century, evangelicals have actually produced some worthwhile work. Two of the most celebrated Christian novelists working today, Marilynne Robinson and Leif Enger, are writing from a decidedly evangelical perspective. Enger's Peace Like a River was named the 2002 Book of the Year in the L.A. Times, and was lauded in almost every review. Robinson's latest novel Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. This does not suck. And when you add in contemporaries such as Frederick Buechner, Annie Dillard, John Updike, and Anne Lamott, who really don't fit into either the High Church or the Evangelical categories, it seems fairly clear to me that non-liturgical, non-High Church Christians have as much of an impact on literature as their High Church contemporaries, and maybe more. And the odds are even more lopsided in the popular music world, where it is evangelicals like U2 and Sufjan Stevens who have arguably released some of the best and most popular albums created from a Christian worldview. In other words, the argument in Touchstone was valid thirty years ago. It doesn’t apply now, and it hasn't been true for a long time.
And he's right. The article he is responding also mentions that evangelicals--when they do try to make art--tend to use it solely as a propaganda tool. And this isn't exactly true either; while there are certainly evangelicals that do this, there are many that don't (and many High Church/Emerging Church/etc. that make bad bad art).
What is comes down to is this: regardless of traditions, Christians need to strive to glorify God in all they do. Art, yes--but also doing taxes, making coffee, interacting with neighbors, running. Even 'blogging.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 9/05/2007 11:51:00 PM,
- At 11:15 PM, Janell said...
Congrats on finishing your year - that's pretty awesome.
I will miss having something new from you to read every day.
- At 9:56 PM, John Baldauff said...
Jason, congrats on a year o' blogging! That's a heavy bill and you finished strong. Of your last post I only partially agree. Neither Enger nor Robinson are your typical American evangelical. And certainly U2 and Sufjan Stevens don't fit into the generic evangelical mold. But I guess I'm really just talking about definitions of evangelicals more so than offering a critique of the article. Anyways, I plan on giving this blog thing another go-around and actually try posting regularly so check me out sometimes.
- At 2:09 PM, palaeologos said...
Sufjan Stevens is not an evangelical. He's a self-confessed Anglo-Catholic, as he's mentioned in several interviews. This is, of course, not inconsistent with an evangelical spirituality & a strong sense of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
- At 2:11 PM, Jason said...
No, Stevens isn't an evangelical, but this article and the quote you mention were written before Stevens talked much about his background.