LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Monday, July 23, 2007

Robin Parrish: INFUZE Magazine

Born Michael Robin Parrish on October 13, 1975, Robin's earliest writing efforts took place on a plastic, toy typewriter, and resulted in several "books" (most between 10 and 30 pages long) and even a few magazines. After college, he entered the writing profession through a "side door" -- the Internet. More than ten years he spent writing for various websites, including About.com, CMCentral.com, and his current project INFUZE Magazine, which is a unique intersection between art and faith which he conceived of and created 3½ years ago with the help of a private, local investor. (INFUZE is now published by iTickets.com). In addition to being editor-in-chief of INFUZE, Robin has written two novels in a trilogy: Relentless and the newly-released Fearless.

LeAnne: INFUZE “examines the place where art and faith intersect.” What does that mean?

I’ve talked to many people over the years and have gotten great quotes that helped me formulate ideas about how I wanted to do this. One of the people I talked to said that we were created to create. We were created by a creative Being to be like Him, and one of His greatest qualities is that He is creative. Something powerful happens when we express that. Just like when we worship, when we do something that’s in devotion to him—creativity is an act of devotion.

The thing that most Christians stumble over is that creativity is not relegated only to the Christian market. Plenty of things outside the Christian world not done by Christians still have illuminative qualities. They still shed light on what it is to be human and the magnificence of our existence and why we’re here. You can find purpose and meaning in a lot of things that were not even meant for that and we try to find them. We try to find things with redemptive qualities.

Now we go pretty far across the board. We do cover R-rated movies and we always tell you if it’s an R-rated movie but we’re not a watchdog group. We’re not a parenting group that will tell you, “Don’t go to this movie for this reason.” There’s plenty of that kind of stuff out there and if you want that, go for it. We report what’s good in a movie, what you can take with you that might [make you] feel uplifted and inspired and apply it to your life. It’s not always Passion of the Christ. Sometimes it might be a PIXAR movie or Spiderman movie. The Spiderman movies are some of the most spiritual movies made because they are so powerfully rooted in forgiveness and redemption themes. We cover everything: books, movies, video games, comic books, music, you name it—if it’s a creative outlet, we try to plug into it and see what we can find. And get our hands messy so you don’t have to.

LM: Have you always been interested in culture and the arts and creativity?

Yes. My career in this industry started in covering Christian music for about 11 years in various places. I got burned out with it. I had done over 1000 CD reviews and I felt like I had said everything I wanted to say.

My first love was always storytelling. I always wanted to be a writer. I always wanted to tell my stories. I love other people’s really great stories. The offer was there from this local investor if I wanted to do something different, we could create something. I was trying to come up with something new that would challenge and grow me and allow me to get back to my first love of storytelling, something that wouldn’t waste all of these great contacts I had made in the Christian music industry. So I got to thinking, what do storytelling and music have in common? They are forms of artistic expression so that’s where I came up with the art and faith intersect idea. I see it in my mind very clearly as a grid of lines: there’s a line called faith and a line called art and we try to stay right there in that sweet spot where the two of them meet and are happily co-existing.

LM: Who is your audience?

It’s eclectic. I would say the majority are probably college age to early 30s but we have young kids and we have senior adults. It’s mostly people who are intuitive and savvy when it comes to popular culture and the arts. You hear that word “the arts” thrown around and it sounds like this high-minded, Boston Museum of Art kind of term with people buying turtlenecks and being stuffy but we don’t consider the arts that way. We take on pop culture and the arts so anybody who’s into pop culture, who’s into superheroes, who’s into where entertainment and art are going right now, that’s who we try to appeal to.

We don’t go out of our way to say we’re Christians. There’s nothing wrong with doing that—it’s not that we’re ashamed of it in any way. But as soon as you put that out there and say “this is a Christian website,” anyone who’s not a Christian is going to come to the website and say immediately, “Oh this is meant for a club of people that I’m not in.” It builds walls around us and creates a big “us versus them” mentality. We don’t try to turn anybody off that way. It’s sort of an advanced form of evangelism. We talk about Christian ideas, messages, morals and values, and you’re going to see it if you spend any time there but we don’t draw attention to it.

We recently opened up a message board where people can have discussions on their own. We’d like to create a place where people can come together from all walks of life and discuss the big questions of life: does God exist? What is our purpose as human beings if He doesn’t exist? What is all this about? Why are we here? It can’t all be chance, can it? Those kinds of conversations can happen where there are no walls between us.

More from Robin Parrish of INFUZE on Thursday.

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