LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dick Staub, Part 3: To Artists

Today I’m concluding my interview with Dick Staub, author of The Culturally Savvy Christian and two other books. He is an award-winning broadcaster and speaker whose work focuses on understanding faith and culture and interpreting each to the other. He is the radio personality behind The Dick Staub Show, a nationally syndicated daily broadcast he hosted for fifteen years, and The Kindlings Muse podcast at www.thekindlings.com. His commentaries can be read regularly at www.dickstaub.com.

LeAnne: What advice would you give artists who are trying to bring salt and light to the culture?

The first thing would be to cultivate their personal walk with God. When my dad was a teenager he got the chance to chauffeur A.W. Tozer around to his speaking engagements. Thinking this was his chance to get insight into how to go deeper in faith, he asked Tozer the secret to growing in the knowledge and practice of the holy. My father expected a deeply intellectual and profound response, but Tozer’s pastoral response lacked any lofty theological pretense. “Young man” he said, “read the Bible and pray everyday and you’ll grow like a weed.”

Secondly, I would advise them to hone their craft. I'm reminded of what Samuel Johnson said regarding one writer’s work, "Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good!”

Third, I would urge them to stay true to their artistic vision instead of allowing it to be subsumed by economic drivers. We need to provide for our families, but we also need to make good authentic art.

Fourth, if you have the talent and are called to do so, serve culture by making art as a Christian rather than simply creating art to be consumed by a Christian sub-culture.


Teena Stewart said...

As an artist and a writer I appreciate Dick's words. I think when the going gets tough we sometimes tend to morph our message to be more commercial in order to put bread on the table. Thanks for reminding us to stand firm.

Teena Stewart

LeAnne Benfield Martin said...


Thanks for your comment. It is a good reminder, isn't it?


Byron K. Borger said...

Thanks for this good conversation, and thanks for your concerns, Teena. It is my experience, however, that too many evangelical artists have morphed who they are not to fit commercial expectations, but to adhere to some (false) assumptions about what Christian art must be.

I'm not sure the best Christian artists approach their art as simply as having a "message" that must be maintained. Most serious authors who write about a Christian view of aesthetics---from Schaeffer to Seerveld, etc---say that it isn't faithful to think about artists having a "message" (since, they say, good art isn't driven by a message, anyway. If it is, it isn't good art, but propaganda.)

So, I wonder: is it helpful to take Staub's good call to walk close to God to mean that we ought to be strict about a message. Might nuance and allusion and, well, artistic quality, be what most honors God in this arena?

Byron Borger


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