Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another one falls victim to lowest common denominator thinking
Reference link:

“ABS got nervous with the content and how it was being told,” Ruiz explained. “It's very easy for religious organizations and churches alike to criticize and complain about how society is running amok and is out of control. But when it comes time to put your money where your gripes are, indifference and non-commitment are the end result. ABS worried how they would be perceived in the religious community and what affect it would have on their donor base. When they saw what it would take to reach this market, and how it would ruffle the feathers of some in the religious community, it was better to play it safe and not serve the secular market and save face in their own community. They also felt that it would take too long to recoup their investment in the secular market, so a decision was made to go exclusively into the CBA [Christian Booksellers Association] market for a quicker turn around on their investment.

“According to ABS management, it would be a safer course to steer in.
(Emphasis mine)

And I had such high hopes for Metron. Their books were gorgeous. Relevent. Entertaining. Not propagandizing. Not preaching. They were just great stories about power, love, kindness, violence, sex, and life -- just pulling from biblical source material.

(I still hold that we Christians today would probably like to edit out all the sex and violence from scripture if we had our way... Sigh.)

And we wonder why people outside our churches don't find our faith relevent. Perhaps because we more often than not choose the "safer course to steer in" rather than engaging the rest of the world on its own turf.

On behalf of the small group of Christians who prefer not to hide in a subculture but rather to embrace the rest of the world genuinely and with gusto, I apologize again for the small-mindedness of many within my faith.

This kind of thing just irks the crap out of me.

That is exactly why I've chosen as a Christian NOT to write for the CBA market when I'm writing novels and short stories.

Art = taking risks. Period.

Propagandizing doesn't.

Art touches people and invokes either positive or negative response. But usually involvement.

Propaganda usually just tunes them out and pisses them off.

By and large, the CBA market doesn't allow for risk. Not when there is an outspoken group within Christendom who watchdogs to ensure that nothing they consider "bad" gets "used" in their playground.

I think that within my faith there are two predominant types of creators.

The first writes from an evangelistic zeal and wields artistic means and methods and devices as tools -- mere tools, even. This type of writer sees the art (whether fiction, nonfiction, movies, music, etc.) as the means to an end. This is the category in which the Left Behind series, most of the so-called Christian music industry, painter Thomas Kinkaid, and their ilk are firmly entrenched, in my opinion. I tend to see this type is a preacher first and a Christian second, and an artist somewhere further down the line.

The second type is often labeled as "an artist for art's sake," which isn't a completely true assessment, I feel. I feel he or she's an artist who approaches the craft the way most artists do, out of his or her life and worldview and ponderings, and puts all that to canvas or page or music somehow. Because this person believes in the faith of Christianity, that underlying "feeling" comes through in the themes they choose to address or approach. But their work tends to raise questions, not answer them. They tend to tell stories rather than use stories to provide a moral at the end. This is where writers like Annie Dillard and Madeleine L'Engle camp, along with musicians like Bono and POD, and Metron Press (to a large degree, anyway), I feel.

It's also where I camp. Art is not a tool. Art is a form of expression that comes from someone who creates it. It's a mark of being created in the image of God, that we too long to create as well.

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