Tag Archives: Annie Dillard

What Do Charles Schultz, C.S. Lewis, Bach, Beethoven, Rembrandt and You Have in Common?

By Eugene C. Scott

What do Charles Schultz, Beethoven, J.R.R. Tolkein, Johann Sebastian Bach, Rembrandt, Charles Dickens, Georg Handel, Annie Dillard, Graham Greene, Michelangelo and C.S. Lewis have in common? No, they are not all dearly departed. Author Annie Dillard is alive and well, thank you. They are, however, all artists: cartoonists, musicians, writers, painters and poets whose work defines their genre. They also have in common a connection with their Creator. Each of these artists loved God and expressed that love through art.

We don’t often recognize it, but many of our creators of classics were those whose faith in God drove them to discover, invent, explore, write, paint and excel at their calling. Bach scrawled “Solo Deo Gloria” on each of his compositions because he wanted all to know his music was written to bring glory to God alone. It has! Rembrandt produced more paintings depicting biblical themes (850 religious versus 500 portraits) than any other subject. Rembrandt clearly possessed a passion to illustrate the truth of God. Tolkien created an entire fantasy world out of his belief that story telling reflects the eternal Wisdom and Beauty of our Maker.

Creativity and the arts are logically and intimately connected to our Creator. Genesis 1:1 and 26 reads, “In the beginning God created

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt

the heavens and the earth. . . Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. . . .” God is creative and part of the image of God we bear is the ability also to create. God took nothing and formed it into magpies, rainbow trout and us. We build mud into temples, sheet metal into Jaguars and with ink we invent worlds. Tolkien rightly called us “sub-creators.”

That is not to say those who make no room in their lives for a Creator are not creative. The creation account does not say God granted the divine image only to those who believe. Many who have crowned themselves their own masters have become maestros. All humans carry creation in their genes. Simply because I don’t recognize the source of a river does not mean I cannot drink deeply from it.

But in knowledge and truth lies freedom. To know God as Creator frees us to create in the highest sense of the word. Pop culture is a testimony to the downward spiral of creativity. Rare are the Paul Simons, J.K. Rowlings and Picassos; rife are the Brittany Spears, Mr. T’s and Survivors. When a crucifix suspended in a jar of urine is passed off and hotly defended as art, is when we know the connection between creativity and the Creator has been stretched to its limit if not broken.

Christianity has been one of the culprits of this disconnect. Christians marched out of the age of reason believing imagination, story telling and theater were inventions of the devil. Some ancient churches banned art. And just twenty years ago, Contemporary Christian Music was thrown into befuddlement when Phil Keaggy, a masterful guitar player, produced an instrumental album called “The Master and the Musician.” Critics said it could not be a “Christian” album because it never mentioned Jesus by name.

The Three Crosses by Rembrandt

Yet, James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” Good art, engineering, poetry and parenting comes from God. Art need not reflect religious subjects only to be great. But we must recognize creativity flows from the One, True Artist in order for art in us to flourish. You and I were created creative. We can decorate our corner of the world by letting God’s art purl through us.

Eugene C. Scott loves creativity and is writing a novel, writes poetry, dreams up lots of crazy things but can’t cook a lick.  He is co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church which is a grace-filled group of people who also love and welcome creativity.


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Is God Boring?

The words “adventure” and “worship” are not often used in the same sentence except when modified by the word “not.” Most people view worship as a passive activity at best, unless you belong to one of those congregations that stands up and sits down a lot or allows dancing and rolling around the aisles.

No, words that come to mind in terms of worship are silent, safe, sedate, and unfortunately boring. The greatest Sunday morning adventures may be in getting your reluctant kids to worship or in gulping down enough caffeine to make it through the sermon.

What is worship really about?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Malachi 1:1-2:17

Revelation 21:1-27

Psalm 149:1-9

Proverbs 31:10-24

Thank you again for the honor of making this journey with you. I hope you join us right here for The Neighborhood Cafe: A Faithblog Community after the first of the year.

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We don’t get worship. Most of the time we think worship is about singing our favorite hymns or songs or hearing a good sermon or practicing meaningful traditions. We feel good about going to church if we “get something out of it.” We often treat going to church like a trip to some kind of self-service spiritual filling station.

But Psalm 149 draws a very different picture of worship. Not only does the psalmist surprise by using fun words such as “rejoice,” “glad,” “joy,” and “delight,” to describe corporate worship but  he seems to believe worship is not about getting something out of God but rather connecting with God.

In worship we are to rejoice in our maker and be glad in our king. And God in turn delights in us, his people. Worship is not about perfect music and polished sermons. Worship is a relationship. God thinks it’s fun to be with us.

Annie Dillard writes about this kind of worship in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk: “A high school stage play is more polished than this service we have been rehearsing since the year one. In 2,000 years, we have not worked out the kinks. We positively glorify them. Week after week we witness the same miracle: that God is so mighty He can stifle His own laughter. Week after week, we witness the same miracle: that God, for reasons unfathomable, refrains from blowing our dancing bear act to smithereens. Week after week, Christ washes the disciples’ dirty feet, handles their very toes, and repeats, ‘It is alright—believe it or not—to be people.’”

This is not such a strange concept. There are many times where we simply enjoy being with family or friends. We may be playing cards or taking a walk or sipping tea. The activity is not important; being together is. And trying to get something out of being together is often counter-productive.

In a world of a thousand demands and distractions, God calls us into a time and place of focus. “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Bask in God’s presence. Worship. It may seem to some a waste of time, boring, irrelevant, outdated. But in reality what greater adventure could there be than being with God?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.

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