The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Like many Herald-Leader readers, I have read my fellow Life + Faith columnist Paul Prather’s recent columns about the movie Fireproof with great interest, but probably from a different perspective.
As an arts and entertainment journalist and critic who covers faith-based pop culture, I know that criticizing art made in the name of Christianity or other faiths can be quite a minefield. If you say something negative, no matter how constructively, some people invariably take it as an insult not only to their taste but to their faith.
That can make it a little bit hard to do what Paul was doing, essentially writing an aspirational column asking: Shouldn’t we as people of faith strive to create art that doesn’t just advocate our point of view but stands on its own as great art?
Many, many times, Christianity and great art have come together. Just think of the music of J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and other composers who wrote religious works, or some of the great visual art in works by Michelangelo that represent biblical images. That has not stopped happening.
In modern music, artists including Phil Keaggy and Switchfoot make faith-based rock ’n’ roll that can stand with anything on the mainstream charts. Whitney Houston’s death has reminded us of the great influence that gospel music holds in numerous forms of modern music.
Christian pop is a genre that has long labored under the criticism that it is not as good as mainstream music. I know that has made some people angry and resentful — and it hasn’t always been the most constructive or best-informed criticism — but I think it has helped to strengthen a genre that wanted to prove not only that Christians can make modern music about faith but that they can do it really well.
With one-third of the world’s population identifying as Christians, it stands to reason that there will be great artists among them.
But the fast lane to mediocrity is when we assume that good intentions automatically equal good results.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich