Cosmos from Chaos.

Preface: I'm so excited to see that there are people reading this! Not to be popular, but to have other people to bounce this stuff off of (just because I write it doesn't mean I'm right.) I hope if you are reading this, and you want to say something? That you'll say it. Feel free. Less lurking, more throwing yourself into the fray.
My older son, Liam, is seven. He is a huge fan of a line of computer games called Backyard Sports. In these games you have the opportunity to get to know each player by clicking on their biography. There is background music, animation and all that fun stuff that keeps Liam from paying attention when I talk to him. One morning I heard Liam listening to some of the players bios and when he called me into the room, I figured he had found yet one more that made him laugh so he wanted to show me. Instead? He said, "Listen to this music, Mom." The player was talking so at first I didn't even realize there was anything to the background music. But then I noticed a nice song that sounded like it was being played on a piano. Liam turned to me and said, "Doesn't that make you think about God?" As a mother who's trying to teach her kids about the wonder of a loving God, I was floored. But as an artist, I was intrigued. I didn't know if the composer of this one random background song was a Believer. This song wasn't necessarily there to inspire anyone to see God in a computer sports bio. But it did.

In chapter one, Madeleine L'Engle says that Leonard Bernstein summed this up when he said that for him music is cosmos in chaos. Madeleine goes on to say this:

And it true not only of music; all art is cosmos found within chaos. At least all Christian art (by which I mean all true art, and I'll go deeper into this later) is cosmos in chaos. There's some modern art, in all disciplines, which is not; some artists look at the world around them and see chaos, and instead of discovering cosmos, they reproduce chaos on canvas, in music, in words. As far as I can see, the reproduction of chaos is neither art, nor is it Christian.

She uses an example from a poem by e. e. cummings. who wrote " the ears of my ears are awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened." She says she has no idea what denomination or "brand of faith" cummings professed or if any at all but those words still cause her to rejoice. She goes on to explain:

The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birthgiver. In a very real sense the artist (male or female) should be like Mary who, when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command.

Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, "Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me." And the artist either says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord," and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary. (emphasis mine)

I really, really like this. I like the idea that we are not original creators and that we're just messengers of God's attributes - truth, beauty, love, reality. There are a lot of things I could list that are not technically "Christian" but have showed me some attribute or truth of God or my relationship with Him. Oooh, here's a good one! The Breakfast Club came out when I was in junior high. A year or so later, when it hit cable and video, my mom saw it. I can't remember now if I wanted to watch it and she wanted to screen it first? Or if she just happened upon it on HBO and got sucked in. Either way, my mom was moved by it in that she was able to look past the language and surface themes (the talking about sex, drugs, whatever) and see the truth that was presented in that movie. She was fine with letting me watch it because she felt like the message was a valuable one. And how many other movies are the same way? The themes are hard to watch. They're sometimes graphically violent and the language is often bad but the movies have truth to them and that makes them real. Saving Private Ryan, The Shawshank Redemption, Bruce Almighty, Schindler's List, The Lord of the Rings trilogy so many more. There is a really great article on Non-Christians making the best movies at that goes well with this theme (click here to read it.)

Another good example? Music. How many songs do you love because of what they say to you about your life and yet those songs aren't necessarily "Christian." Perfect example for me? Bring Me to Life, by Evanescence. Loud, sometimes to the point of screaming. The words to this? Are amazing. I have felt this way before. And yelling is the perfect way to express it. It's not a nice, melodic feeling. It's a desperate feeling but also hopeful because you know there is something else and you need to wake up.

how can you see into my eyes like open doors
leading you down into my core
where I've become so numb
without a soul, my spirit sleeping somewhere cold

until you find it there and lead it back home
wake me up inside

wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
before I come undone
save me from the nothing I've become

...breathe into me and make me real

bring me to life

all this time I can't believe I couldn't see
kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
I've been sleeping a thousand years it seems
got to open my eyes to everything
without a thought without a voice without a soul
don't let me die here
there must be something more
bring me to life
So be real, people. If you've never heard that song before? You could totally mistake those lyrics for a new worship song. Because revelation isn't limited to Believers. Because God is everywhere and in everything and we share this world with non-Believers who are still clear-sited enough to see that there is something more. And if revelation isn't limited to Believers, then God's truth, beauty and reality aren't limited either.

Ok, so here's a challenge (this is especially because Jodi asked for one. And I heart Jodi.) Take time today to think of a "Non-Christian" movie or song or poem or book or whatever that speaks truth to you. That makes you think about something that brings you closer to God or to understanding more about our role as His followers. Something that encourages you, even if it doesn't encourage you to be more "Christian." If it encourages you? It serves a purpose for good. And if you want to take it a step farther? Take that thing that you're thinking about and use it. Make something. Use the words or images (or even other things that invoke the same feelings.) Make a scrapbook page, make a card for someone else so they can get a glimpse of whatever it is that you saw, write a poem (or a haiku. Seriously. Those are fun.)

If you can't make anything? Well, then, first of all... you're wrong. You just are, so get over it. Take a paper plate and draw a face that shows how that song or whatever makes you feel. See? Now you've made something. You've taken a thought and put it out there. But if you can't or don't want to make something? At least tell someone else about your revelation or feelings about that poem or movie or amazingly beautiful crocheted blanket that just makes you marvel at the abilities with which God has blessed some people. Have a good conversation. Get your brain going and getting used to the fact that something doesn't have to say "Jesus" or "God" in it to be Christian art.


Heather said…
Great challenge!

By the way... ee cummings once said (paraphrase) that he didn't know if he believed in God, but he did believe in something greater than this world -- he just wasn't sure that it was God. He went on to say if we were thinking that this world is all that there is to this life, we would be FOOLS.
Anonymous said…
Def. saving this to my favorites. I've felt this way for so long now. It's wonderful reading your thoughts on the subject!
Anne Heyen said…
I took up your challenge and posted in the Two Peas Gallery. Let me see if I can post a link.
candy said…
I still don't have the book but I will get it this weekend for sure. I appreciate the seeing God in things that aren't "Christian".
I think that we are mandated as Christians to do the very best in all that we do to glorify God. Now, I can say that easily- living it is another battle but I do believe that.
Oh, I just can't quite spit out all that I want to say but wow- this post is very meaningful.
amiko said…
don't even know what day it is, working with ribbon everyday

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