Editor’s Note: Onward Christian artists

READ THIS FIRST

Elizabeth Kleberg. Photo: John Robinson Elizabeth Kleberg. Photo: John Robinson

As humans, it’s hard for us to know with any sense of certainty where we are in history. The narrative ribbon that connects age to age is knitted with intergenerational strands that are longer than our lifetimes. But there are moments, ripples in our collective fabric, in which societies advertise their own watersheds. Think about the late ’60s and early ’70s in this country. Walter Cronkite reporting on The Beatles’ impact in America, a cultural evolution invading the news. You say you want a revolution, well, you know…

Jayson Whitehead’s feature this week intertwines the personal account of a writer struggling with the legacy of his conservative Christian upbringing with interviews of local artists whose faith drives them, even if it doesn’t necessarily pervade their work. To give the narrative context, Jayson talks about American Christianity’s struggle to cope with the challenge the ’60s presented.

The world had gotten too big for a thinking person to believe only a Christian could be redeemed. Absolute moralities didn’t hold up to a fast-moving cultural landscape in which -isms implicated the righteous and the damned alike. But more than anything else, it was the gospel of self-realization and self-expression that emptied the churches. All you need is love.

There used to be jokes, back when it mattered, about the fact that there is no one American Christian experience. A Baptist, an Episcopalian, and a Lutheran walk into a bar… In my lifetime, popular Christianity has experienced a mostly non-denominational resurgence with a practical, family-oriented message that has borrowed heavily from the narrative of the early church and its war against Hellenic culture and the Roman Empire. But American Christianity has mostly left the intellectual, artistic, and philosophical edges of our world alone in favor of stabilizing its congregational value systems.

The artists in Jayson’s story, and no doubt the communities that support them, are trying to accomplish something more ambitious by asking us to imagine there’s a Jesus.

Posted In:     The Editor's Desk

Previous Post

Editor’s Note: Who’s lobbying for small farmers?

Next Post

Editor’s Note: Schools come alive after the last bell



Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of