The Artist's Task
by Matt Bynum
The artist's task is to take every available resource and form them into works of beauty and inspiration
The inhabitants of the Western world possess a rich inheritance from those whose minds have fought and sought for solutions to the problems of their day. Advances in science and technology have been used to minister to the physical needs of the earth's inhabitants. Yet, as society's outer self has prospered, society's soul has become weak and emaciated. This impoverishment is reflected by today's popular culture. So much of what is called art and "entertainment" these days is crude, profane, or lacking in meaningful content. Most individuals live without purpose, caught in an endless cycle of birth, school, work, retirement, and death. Get-rich schemes proliferate, as do the lottery, gambling, and "sure-thing" investments. The public seems to be drawn to sensationalism, as evidenced by the popularity of tabloids and the proliferation of television "talk shows" and "news programs".
Indifference to society
What is the Church's response to these problems? Unfortunately, the attitude of many is that there is no cure for society's ills, because these are "the end times." One popular author is convinced that the End will occur in the next few years. The year 2000 has special significance as a year of foreboding in this author's view. Even though the author's past predications have proven themselves wrong, the books still continue to be bestsellers.
There have been times when the Church did not distance itself from society's ills. In times past, various denominations were responsible for building many of the hospitals, schools, and charity organizations. Some time in the mid 1800's, the zeal began to wane. It was decided that the State should take up the responsibility, because shouldn't the State "promote the general welfare?" Besides, it was much easier to give the responsibility over to an entity whose financial reserves appeared endless, rather that part with one's own capital. The Church relinquished its God-given responsibility; as a result, society turned its eyes away from God as provider, and turned its eyes toward the State.
Fear of the future
About the same time as the decline of Church involvement in society, the teachings promoted by Dispensationalists began to gain ground. According to this doctrine, events leading up to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalum (in AD 70) are placed in an Apocalyptic future (even through Christ stated many times that some of those hearing His words would witness the events He described). As Dispensationalism became more popular, the Church began to withdraw further within its shell. Society is now suffering from Dispensationalism's self-defeating prophecies.
To those who believe that the end times are near, one may ask, What if these dark times are a prelude to a Great Awakening, rather than the eve of the Apocalypse? Is it not better to be prepared for victory, rather than to be braced for defeat? We should identify with the two spies who saw the Promised Land as an opportunity for God to perform mighty works, not with the ten who saw the giants as impenetrable obstacles.
Art that nourishes
The artist's task is to take every available resource and form them into works of beauty and inspiration. Good art is as necessary to society as is good food and drink. Today's society is malnourished, suffering from an overindulgence in "junk" art. Society needs to be presented with art that will nourish, artworks that are filled with fire and with the Breath of Life.
Some have said that even with all of today's scientific advancements, the entire realm of scientific invention is a vast undiscovered universe. This holds true with other areas of study, including the Arts. There are so many masterpieces that lie dormant, awaiting their own creation.
What if the Church were to cast off its indifference to society and its
fear of the future, and grapple with the challenges and opportunities that
are before it? The Church must face its future as those who are mature
adults, as those who are soldiers, as those who are citizens of the Kingdom.
Updated by: Matt Bynum