Melding the Artistic and Christian Lifestyles

Dance Project 2011 at Western Kentucky University. Photo by Andrew Duff

In the past few months, I have been feeling convicted about the difficulty of melding a Godly mindset with the highly emotionally driven reactions that seem to be required in the arts. I know there are a good amount of books and lectures about being a light in the world of performing arts, and maintaining a pure heart and mind. But I wan’t to talk about the paradox of maintaining a Godly mindset, contrasted with the actual mental technique of the performer.

I was a musical theatre major and dance minor in college. My acting teachers would consistently drill into me that I had to be emotionally transparent, let things effect me, and react very realistically. This naturalistic way of entertaining my thoughts ultimately led to me reacting in a very worldly way… to everything. I became obsessed with how high I could rev my emotions. Every thought I had quickly turned cinematic, and my emotions just outrageously flirted with the world. I experienced this worldly change creeping into my real life in the name of “transparency.” I even considered this change a success because I thought it was making me a smarter actress. But at the same time it was making me a weaker Christian due to my sinful nature. Let me explain why it is so difficult to have genuine emotional reactions and a make Godly choices at the same time.

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A Broken Little Heart

I have a friend who, a few years ago, stopped believing in the same kind of Jesus that I do.

“In you and you and you, and in me, and sun and sky,” she would say, pointing to each with frustrated enthusiasm, conflicted that others didn’t see or experience the freedom of believing in her God, or at least in some kind of god who was, and is, and is working in everything.

She was an existentialist, perhaps, or an earth mother, although I don’t believe she’s read Kierkegaard or is a listener of Krisha Dass. Neither label would even half capture what kind of person she is, though I would like to acknowledge that this is true of most labels.

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Artist Highlight: Adam Whipple

Don’t listen to Adam Whipple’s new record if you’re going through something hard. I mean, seriously, don’t. Don’t listen unless you’re ready to work through those complex, deep-down feelings inside you. But, if you are ready, then oh, boy; The Broken Seasons will deeply reward you.

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Me and Rich and Jesus

I was in my parents’ kitchen when I heard the news. It was twenty years ago, but I still remember standing in the tight space between the fridge and the stove, surrounded by the warm browns of the tiny floor tiles and cupboards, thinking that a light was gone. Rich Mullins had died.

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Good Grief

“Life is pain, highness” says the blue eyed Westley to his fair Buttercup in The Princess Bride. “Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

But most of us would rather listen to a salesman than Westley; because pain is, well, painful, and we prefer to ignore its thorny role in our lives.

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When the Light Disappears

Today, multitudes of Americans converged on a long swath of land stretching from the Oregon coast to Charleston. After a great deal of hype and expenditure, they took turns sitting in the dark together for a few minutes per group. Then they turned to go home.

It’s funny, historically speaking, to see everyone so thrilled and eager about a solar eclipse—an event that used to be a harbinger of doom. Solar eclipses have brought rulers to their knees, armies to armistice, and if you believe Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, a timely end to a series of beheadings. They also offer a representation of the word syzygy, which earns at least twenty-five Scrabble points. The moon passes before the sun, occulting its light and revealing the wild-hair halo of the sun’s corona.

In the fallout from the disheartening events in Charlottesville, it is a blessing to have such a grandiose celestial reminder of the centuries-old motto of John Calvin’s followers: Post tenebras lux—after darkness, light.

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