Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Posts Tagged ‘messages’

Let it Ride in the Trunk

In ruminating, writing on March 31, 2012 at 9:08 am

Here I am making dinner, but I haven’t been able to get this idea for a blog post out of my head for the last few days so I’ve got the laptop open on the counter and I’m jotting things down as I chop cilantro, mash avocados, and shred cheese. (can you guess what we’re having for dinner?)

I got caught up in a facebook conversation the other day that, when my husband noticed my involvement said, “Uh oh. I see you’re raging again.” Well, I wasn’t raging (really) and I practiced considerable restraint by limiting myself to only two comments when I coulda said a whole lot more. (Which, evidently, I’m going to do here, instead)

The topic that fueled my raging that wasn’t raging? The idea of a “Christian genre” in the arts. Let me just say that I’m not opposed to specifically Christian expressions for the purpose of worship; I totally believe in and respect that. Absolutely. But I am opposed to a label slapped on art forms for the purpose of separating them from “non-Christian” ones. So, since that facebook status forced me to revisit my views on this topic and I couldn’t shake it out of my head, I started thinking about how this issue relates to my own writing, especially being a writer who is a Christian. And also how this issue relates to the arts in general.

So, how did I (not) rage about “Christian genre” the other night? Well, I’ve got a few opinions regarding that topic, but I decided to focus on just one. (See? Restraint) Here’s an excerpt from one of my comments to give it to you in a nutshell:

One of the problems with the ‘Christian genre’ is that because its main goal has been to be ‘set apart’ in the creative arena, it has often sacrificed authentic human expression on the altar of message. When message trumps authentic expression, the art form will appear contrived, (because, essentially, it is) without exception.

Yeah, I’ve seen this in movies, read it in books, experienced it in paintings, heard it in songs: Maybe you have, too. In a desire to share with the world what is most important to them, some artists who are Christians have chosen to make the message they want to share the main focus of their art. And that makes it feel contrived, ultimately resulting in people turning away.

Now, before you go all “Yeah, those *%!@# Christians!” reread and replace the crossed out parts (below) with other things; things that different people are passionate about and want to share with the world. Maybe something that’s important to you.

One of the problems with the ‘Christian genre’ is that because its main goal has been to be ‘set apart’ in the creative arena, it has often sacrificed authentic human expression on the altar of message. When message trumps authentic expression, the art form will appear contrived, (because, essentially, it is) without exception.

Yeah, I’ve seen this in movies, read it in books, experienced it in paintings, heard it in songs: Maybe you have, too. In a desire to share with the world what is most important to them, some artists who are _________________ have chosen to make the message they want to share the main focus of their art. And that makes it feel contrived, ultimately resulting in people turning away.

See what I’m saying? This is a universal pitfall and no one is completely immune to it. We all have things we strongly believe in, things we wish other people would believe, too. Message is a part of who we are and we can’t get rid of it. Nor should we try to. But as artists, part of our responsibility in creating meaningful art with integrity and honoring our craft is by knowing when we are being tripped up by message. And this is why:

When a message (any message) or point (any point) is the main focus in art, authentic expression takes a back seat; the raw beauty of humanness that is crucial to creating vital, meaningful art is weakened. It’s limited. Overshadowed. Sometimes it’s lost completely. When we become absorbed with making sure we always include this, this, and this into our art from our repertoire of personal belief, our art is going to suffer. Why? Because we are more concerned about telling the things we believe to be true than we are about showing the things in our heart.

Human minds tend not to see eye-to-eye on very many things. But human hearts relate on numerous things. Tons of things. Things like love, loneliness, sorrow, joy, pain, anger, relief, frustration, confusion, fear, hope, shame, disappointment, desire, longing for peace. The best art identifies with those most basic instincts of our human hearts and puts them in the driver’s seat. The best art honors humanity as a whole and identifies with more than just a select group of people. The best art serves to expand and enhance viewpoints; to add beauty and value to the world, to our lives; to entertain and increase joy; to create a sense of solidarity among the human race.

Art deserves more respect than to be taken hostage, beaten into submission, and forced to deliver a message.

No question that I struggle with resisting the urge to take my writing hostage from time to time, myself, in my desire to share what’s important to me and what I value and believe with the world. I think it’s safe to say we all want to be true through our art; to have it express who we are as individuals, as creative beings, as intelligent thinking people. The good news is I think art most definitely lends itself to that, without being told how to do it. Since creativity is born in the soul and given wings in the mind, whatever lives within the artist will be evident in their art by default. No contriving required.

So, for the sake of your art; for the sake of all that is valuable, authentic, and meaningful; for the sake of your readers, watchers, and listeners: don’t let message take the driver’s seat. Confine it to the back. Better yet: take it hostage and let it ride in the trunk. That way it won’t be jostling up against anyone or up in anyone’s face. Some people, however, may choose to investigate what that quiet thump, thumping is that’s going on in the background. And once they dig around and discover what it is, they’ll decide what to do with it for themselves.

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