There’s a dangerous line that Believer artists walk, I think. Or any artist, for that matter. Because we love what we create. Each of my poems or scripts or stories becomes sort of a child to me, and I’m fiercely protective of it, of its inherent integrity as a creative work, regardless of its quality. I become instantly at odds with the community of faith to which I belong when I hear the phrase, “hold your gifts loosely.” Yet, if you’ve ever had one of your scripts come to life before you on the stage..if you’ve ever experienced what’s holy about that…then you’re quick to ward off any perceived attacks to it, however well-intentioned they are. Our passion that makes what we’re writing/painting/acting/playing the most important thing in the world at that moment is a mystery to others, who like to say things like “presenting Jesus is really the most important thing,” and, “…but its not about you.” If only they knew…
So, we’re battered by well-meaning slogans of Christian-speak that may be true in and of themselves, but for some reason are perceived as a dichotomy to what’s going on inside the artist’s soul.
Isaiah 2 spins an eschatological prophecy that decries the idols which are made by men’s hands, and how, when confronted with God, those same men will cast aside the idols they have created in terror at the magnitude of God. This leaves me wondering, then…where is the line drawn between a love for what you’re creating, and idolatry? When does something pure become evil? Where does it have the potential to all go wrong? I think it was Lewis who said that art, because of its existential and soul-searching nature, has a dangerous tendency to be worshipped as it touches us so deeply. Then, at some level, we lapse into worshipping the creation instead of the Creator…something Paul cautions against in his letter to the Romans.
Perhaps the solution is found in L’Engle’s thought process that each created piece is like a child. Once you’ve given birth, you raise it the best you can, and then release it. It is God’s now, for him to do with what He will. Because, for the artist who follows Christ, God is the Muse at the end of the day, and it was His to start with. We just put it on its feet.
I think we’ll always walk on the line of falling over that edge if we are to create the way we were designed. As James cautions many to not become teachers, perhaps this is similarly our bane as well as our blessing. We either engage it with trembling humility and trust, or we retreat from our design, becoming frustrated and useless to the bigger scheme of things. I guess I don’t see the second option as an option. So, I have to write as I feel He gives me words, somehow being careful to not idolize the finished product that I fall so deeply in love with, allowing it to have whatever small or big effect He will permit.
Talk about a creative tension. Sometimes, I feel like its more than I can handle.