WEBSITE OF CLARKE EMERVANE

A PROPOSAL

essay | 2019 | 49 pages

In retrospect I realize the title sounds like a bad romance novel - however, I didn't see that at the time, and it's too late to change it now.

Some years ago I wrote The Merit of Metaphor as a summation of what I have come to believe about Christian art. That is, why should one create, and what are the bounds and virtues of creative endeavors? Since writing it, I have had many other questions to deal with in relation to my understanding. A worldview always grows. In seeking answers, I have personally found a great lack of material relating to directives for the Christian artist. There is much on being an artist from secular scholars, but for those holding to an absolute axiom there is little. Historically, the church has birthed art, and it has come to fruition through theology. Somehow, it would seem that Christian art has ended up as something viewed with the same weight as secular entertainment.

I mainly write this to answer my own questions, but share it in hope that it might benefit others who have raised the same. This is not career advice, nor focused on any particular art; it is a broad proposal for why I believe Christians should value art. Particularly, I hope it is an encouragement for the artist to create.

The main questions I have written on are these: what is Christian art, and how do we define it? What is the virtue of such a non-practical thing, and why should we make it? Should we be honest expressing our soul to others in art? Is art just entertainment, and therefore without eternal value? Should I even bother if my art is so bad? Can a Christian paint 'secular' subjects? Is art a needless distraction from the Bible? These are some of the questions I have grappled with myself, and had to answer. I simply hope they may be of help to you.

I write this as a humble proposal, not as one having reached the summit of intellectual growth, but in hope of clarity and conversation. It does not assume art knowledge; I am writing broadly with creators in mind - of blogs, paintings, dances, and to some extent, plumbers and boilermakers. If nothing else, I hope it stirs you to be free to create things for the joy of making them. And if it has been helpful, I would be most encouraged to hear.

Author's note: This is a re-set edition of the original essay, with several sentences updated to clarify the intent where ambiguous.

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