Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wesleyan Art

My feelings on art and the Church resonate with Carole Baker and Leonard Sweet in the videos below ("bastions of boredom," funny...but also not).

Reclaiming The Material Gifts from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

Len Sweet: Wack-A-Mole from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

So I like and need art in a variety of forms and find it virtually absent in the Church today, and dangerously so. I find that the vast majority of what is labeled "Christian" art today is either:

  1. not art (usually some pale copy/attempt at art, or worse yet, simply mass-produced for easy distribution);
  2. doesn't speak to me (like southern gospel, 97% of CCM, Thomas Kincaid, etc.*);
  3. or is dominated by reform theology (I love listening to Derek Webb and Shane & Shane, but they are unapologetically and wholeheartedly Calvinistic...frankly, so is much of contemporary worship music).
We know that much of what came out of the ministry through John Wesley was in great part due to his brother's music and lyricism. The argument might be made that Charles was more concerned about didache than music...but I might disagree. Charles seemed to understand that didache is best done through art.

So my question is this:
Where, who, what have you found these days that speaks to the soul that's saturated with Wesleyan-Arminian theology?

A couple of answers to my own question:
  • The musical group Jars of Clay has always spoken to me...since I first heard their first album back in 1995. They were postmodern before most any in the Church new what the term meant. While not necessarily Wesleyan, I find that their lyricism is much different from most of the reformed-dominated nature of CCM.
  • The visual liturgy site The Work of the People continues to slay me with their work. While not exclusively Wesleyan (in fact, quite often reformed**), they have been studying and highlighting Wesleyan-leaning theologians and artists more and more (like Leonard Sweet and Stanley Hauerwas). list is short. Perhaps I'll remember more later, but I basically want others' help. Anyone?


*I'm really not trying to start a debate on southern gospel, Thomas Kincaid, or anything concerning contemporary worship music. Please don't make this post that. Focus on the bold question above.

**I'm also not dismissing reformed art, I listen to and view it all the time. I'm just looking for more Wesleyan.


  1. This lack of "Wesleyan Art" is a real concern. It is really my hope that the students that we're preparing here at Trevecca in the Center for Worship Arts will be those artists who create good art with good theology. We'll see how it goes :)

  2. I really like this post Jeremy! I have so many thoughts running through my head right now about art. Can "non-Christian" art be a way for people to connect to God and for God to speak through it?? Our first landlord here in Montpellier does really awesome collage art that looks like painting. And I saw a lot of "light" in her work, and would love to talk to her about where the "light" comes from. We're hoping to really connect to people in the community and to students who are artists through Art. Maybe YOU, a Wesleyan, could start creating some Wesleyan art! :)