I Don't Like Christian Art (usually)

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I don't like Christian art.  I'm not talking about the works Michelangelo and Raphael.  In fact, when I come face to face with the Pieta or the Sistine Madonna, I am in awe. The difference between those brilliant masterpieces and what I see when I walk into a Christian store is depressing. So, what happened?

In response to what they saw as idolatry and distraction, the reformers in the 1500s over reacted and said that the words of scripture were the most important and should stand on their own.  

They built sanctuaries devoid of art that lifted up the person speaking the words of Jesus above the crowd where they could be the sole focus of everyone's attention.  Many of them even tried their hardest to speak without any emotional inflection so that nothing at all distracted from the words themselves.  I know... BAD idea.

By the time we let go of these unfortunate over reactions, all serious artists were pursing their craft outside the church.  Somewhere in the twentieth century a new breed of art was born: Christian art.  What was most important was the message, and no matter how poorly done it was, no matter how cliche or cheesy, if it had a "good message" it would sell.

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Awash in a sea of bad art, many Christians have begun asking why.  Why have we let go of craft and nuance in favor of derivatives?  Why have we eschewed metaphor and subtlety for mere depiction?

Enter Joseph Novak.  A presbyterian minister and graphic artist, he has created one piece of beautiful, simple artwork for every book of the Bible: 66 in total.  Some of them are pretty obvious expressions of a book's content while others are far more abstract, but they are all beautiful. It is definitely worth your time to browse through the selection and purchase a couple of your favorites for yourself or your favorite pastor/writer.

While we are far from recovering from the artistic mess created by the reformation, Joseph Novak helps me to feel that we are at least headed in the right direction.

>>>Read More: Art and the Wailing Wall