on June 12, 2001
This is, quite simply, the best book on the issues surrounding the life of a modern day Christian artist that I have ever read--period. I say this for several reasons:
1. It is uncompromising, both in its descriptions of the artist's mind, dreams, and motivations, and also in its exacting analysis of what it means to be a Christian. Turner pulls no punches in describing the incredible dichotomy between the gift of new life we have been given as a result of faith in the death and resurrrection of Christ as atonement for our sins, and the very emotions, dreams, insecurities, and passions that drive the artist in his or her creative endeavors. It is true, at least in my experience (and as Rory Noland has written in his very good book, "The Heart of the Artist"), that Christians in the arts are often more prone to temptation since they allow their feelings and passions to not only enter in to their work, but to drive it.
2. It puts out a call for artists to not only do art in the church to glorify God, but especially to do art OUT in the world to carry His message of salvation to those who do not yet know Him. How often do we hear the statement that the "real" work of the Christian is religious in nature, or takes place in and around the church? But, as Turner writes, "Jesus is Lord" over the WHOLE of our lives, even and especially those parts that are very 'unreligious' in nature. We are called to live for Christ minute by minute.
3. It is also honest in its assessment that the church often does not know what to do with the artists in our midst, let alone present an atmosphere in which they can flourish in their gifts and talents. It is my sincere hope that books like this one and the aforementioned Noland book can serve as a wake up call, letting the modern day church know that there is a powerful group of servants here, and that we need to both minister to them and more importantly allow them to minister to us and to God with their creative talents.
4. Rather than a simplistic "Christian vs. secular" explanation of art in the world, Turner submits a very well-conceived philosophy of five concentric circles of varying degrees of the mix of faith and art. I found this very helpful both in better understanding the art I see in and out of churches around me, and developing my own philosophy of art and faith.
I am the Worship Arts Pastor for a medium-large (approx. 2000 members) Bible church near Dallas, Texas. This book makes statement after statement that my own heart (after nearly 5 years of leading artists, and creating worship services at our church) really resonated with. I found myself underlining sentence after sentence, and often entire paragraphs or pages! This stuff is really that profound.
I hope and pray that the book will help both church staffers and artists find their way to utlizing ALL that they are in the pursuit of God through their gifts. May the church once again become the incredible storehouse and "town square" for the arts that it has been in centuries past; and may more and more Christian artists embrace their gifts and calling, rather than feeling confused and dazed at the apparent lack of understanding by the world in general and the church in particular as to just what makes the artist tick.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It has already had a large impact on my thinking, and helped to clarify issues that have been clouded and murky for so long.
on April 4, 2002
Steve Turner has shed some refreshing light on an age-old controversial subject. Should a Christian's art be obviously Christian or is there room to fudge a bit? These and many other types of questions are answered by Turner. Perhaps the greatest insight he shares in the book is that a Christian artist is also a human being. The art created by this person is affected by all things in their environment. To create only art that reflects an inflexible spiritual message is ludicrous. If the artist is touched by the power of God, the artist paints it. If the artist is hurt by a lover's rejection, the artist writes a song about it. If the artist likes french toast, the artist writes a short story about it. Christian themed or not, it's art and it's justified. Let the fundamental, backward thinking, Super Christians beware. Steve Turner is a champion for the cause of Christians in the arts.
on November 15, 2011
Steven Turner has done a fine job writing about Christians working in the cultural industry. Most of his examples are drawn from the music world since that's the sphere he knows best--he's been writing about the music scene since the early 70s. Not fringe art, but big business music. He knows his stuff without being pedantic or preachy.
He knocks much of the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and provides an anecdote to illustrate his point. As a staff writer for a major (secular) music magazine, Turner handed his editor a sample of CCM for his boss's professional opinion. After listening to the sample, his editor reluctantly said exactly what Turner already knew: it was superficial, outdated, and second-rate. OUCH! But so true. If Christians wish to hear music that's artistically sophisticated, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally mature they're forced to leave CCM in the dust and turn to secular artists for satisfaction. It doesn't need to be that way, but Christian artists who choose to work within the CCM scene are severely restricted by an extremely peurile worldview. After regeneration, I tried listening to CCM for a few years, because I thought it was my duty. But it drove me crazy. No meat, just milk and cookies.
The great thing is, Turner isn't a sell out. He doesn't advocate conforming to worldly standards. Far from it. He warns of those who have compromised and have fallen from grace (my term, not his). A story of a friend who began life as a leader in the Christian music scene, went through many changes, and ended life dying in a car crash hopped-up on drugs is absolutely heartbreaking. 'In the world, not of the world' is the challenge all Christians face--and Christian artists are no different. We do so by grace.
Turner provides a thoughtful discussion of the ways that Christian artists may remain faithful to the Lord, keep growing intellectually, and produce art that is mature, well-rounded, insightful and current with the best art of the day. He cites U2 as a band that kept their faith (mostly) while remaining cutting edge during their prime years. Although, as I said, he writes about the music world, his comments are applicable to other artistic spheres as well.
Worth the read. Very thought-provoking.
on March 19, 2007
This book is no wimpy day dream! Turner's vision is bold, clear and inspiring. His writing is insightful and vital, the kind captivating vision you rarely find, but should.
Wrestling with the tensions of faith and art, Turner provides strong support for artistry that is not neutered by faith but rather enlivened by it.