Today I'm talking with Bryan Coley, Artistic Director of Art Within, an arts and media company that seeks to advance the individual and collective voice of faith in the arts and entertainment industry. Art Within develops, produces and distributes scripts for stage and screen that are relevant to today’s culture and explore Hope and Truth from a Christian perspective. For more information, visit www.artwithin.org.
LeAnne: Why should Christians be involved in our culture?
Bryan: Since I’m a storyteller, I’ll give you a parable. A farmer was tired of sowing seeds. He hated when he had to dig up the ground and till the soil. So he decided, “I’m just going to harvest. That’s what I’m good at. It’s easy.” The ground became hard; the plants died. Eventually the land became a dust bowl. The farmer packed his bags and said, “I guess it wasn’t God’s will for me to farm this land. I’ll just move on to something else.”
To me, that captures what Christianity has done with the culture. We’ve seen how hard it is to engage the culture. Sowing seeds is hard. It takes a long time to see the benefits. It’s so much easier to harvest. By that I mean creating our own subculture. It’s easier to do Christian music than to be musicians out engaging and planting seeds in the culture. It’s harder for us to be in our neighborhood, to be active salt and light than to be in our small groups. Because of that, we’re seeing the land get harder. The culture is becoming a dust bowl because of our lack of planting seeds. The natural Christian reaction is to brush our hands off and say, “I guess it wasn’t God’s will for us to be part of this culture. It’s their own fault.” Instead we should be weeping over this land. That’s why we’re needed in the culture—for our children’s sake, for generations to come who will have to live in a land that’s fruitless.
You have said, “If we're going to bring ourselves into the cultural debate, we can't treat [nonChristians] as enemies." Explain what you mean.
Our conversation with the culture must start from a place of commonality, because “there but by the grace of God...” I’m not saying that we don’t have something huge that sets us apart or that our conversation with the culture shouldn’t end with the transformational power of Jesus Christ. However, it is amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. How uncaring for me, who was formerly lost and blind, to refer to those who are still lost and blind as “them” and alienate myself from them—what piety and hypocrisy.
Thursday's post will be more of my conversation with Bryan.