Thursday, January 10, 2008

Teaching versus preaching

Kind of a variety type of post here.   Clearing the clutter of my mind in one sweeping post.  But it strikes at something Tolkien and CS Lewis detested, something that Paul Vischer of Veggie Tales fame learned it the hard way.   Something that the Huckleberries gang sounded off on earlier this week.

Overt religiosity in art/media.  And by art, we mean books, music, theatre....  I think it was Tolkien that railed against being preachy in writing.  He had another word for it that escapes me (another example separating my humble scratchings from his timeless classics).  His thought was a work should be infused with the writers morality, but not in a moralizing, overt way.   Someone reviewing the recent Golden Compass movie showed how the writer Pullman used his characters to smack his "moral" into the face of the reader, as if they were not intelligent enough to discern from the work itself.

I think that is what Paul Vischer is learning.  And what so much of what passes as Christian art has yet to learn.  (and as I listen to it,  Standing by the Door by Duvall gets it right.)

True prayer and worship of God gets ourselves out of the way.  It isn't about us, but about God.  We pray for God's sake, not for our own consolation.  That is why so many (Joy Behar on the View) miss about Mother Theresa's struggle with doubt.  She had faith, but she received little consolation after her initial encounter with Jesus.  She prayed, but heard no response.  And to persevere for such a long period of time is amazing in itself, how long would any of us stay the course?

For me, I know about receiving little consolation.  I treasure the few moments I get, but hopefully I am learning how to pray for God's sake rather than mine.  I am currently listening to the Into the Deep podcast.  Their very first one was an intro to prayer.  And what a revelation.  These guys are good, and kinda funny too.  So now I am heartened about prayer, about sticking with it. 

Consolation may come in time, but if not, who cares.  It ain't about me.

That is what seems to be amiss in the Christian art.  Use your talent, but let God take care of the message.  It is ultimately the Holy Spirit that changes hearts anyway, so why foul up His message by getting in the way.  I think that was what Tolkien was getting at.


Bear-i-tone said...

It is for this reason that Tolkien hated to have his work referred to as an allegory. It is also why Tolkien criticized C.S. Lewis' Chronicles. Personally, I agree with Tokien. As much as I like Lewis, Chronicles is a little heavy handed at times. When there is a conflict between story and message, message wins. The most basic is the entire story arc. Fairy stories are supposed to begin "Once upon a time..." and end "...and they lived happily ever after." To end the entire Chronicles with "...and they all died happily ever after." while theologically gratifying, storywise, is just a little... off.

KaleJ said...

yeah, even as a young boy, I could see through the screen. I didn't mind as much, but your right, the message wins.

That is a great way of putting it. The story has to be inherently Christian, not a Christian message thinly wrapped in a story.