By Linda Seger, ThD
My mom told me that I was always a creative kid. I wrote stories and a (very short) novel when I was 13. I drew and even got an A+ on my first fingerpainting. I sang songs and played piano. Life was a creative adventure.
When I was a senior in college, I began to get interested in the intersection of theology and art. At first the intersection seemed to relate to subject matter. Sometimes art is simply religious in nature. There are pictures of the Virgin Mary with the child, Jesus. Or of Jesus and the Nativity. The Buddha and the Lotus. The dancing Hindu goddesses.
But I was seeking another connection which had more to do with theme and values. How does all art, and particularly what we might call secular art, communicate the great and good themes of humanity: the fight against injustice, the striving to reach our beautiful dreams and visions, the ways that compassion and mercy reach through our deepest struggles? Is there something intrinsically spiritual and even theological in movies like Just Mercy or with a Netflix series such as Bonfire of Destiny that deals with so many ethical themes? If we look deeply into the movies that move us and perhaps even change us, are we looking at a Spirit that speaks to us through the artist?
More recently, I wondered if there was a way to approach our art by allowing the Creative Spirit to move us and touch us and inspire us and guide us so that we not only become transformed as artists, but we are able to transform others through our art. I wondered if there was a way to approach our art with peace and centeredness rather than with the frantic desperation that I sometimes felt. I wondered to what extent do we have to become better people in order to become better artists.
After some decades of pondering, I came to some conclusions and wrote a book about it: God’s Part in Our Art: Making Friends with the Creative Spirit (pub. date – 9/15/2021). In some blogs to follow, I will share some of the my ideas and ponderings about this intersection for many many years.