There is a certain beauty in the creative arts. Something has been created and presented for the eye to see. But it doesn’t stop there. The eye takes into the heart and the heart takes into the soul. What we see has power to move us, change us. That is the power that the author holds when something is created and shared.
The particulars of how we take in what we see is matter of personality and probably age or maturity as well. Some will tell you that after seeing The Book Thief or The Pianist or reading The Lost Wife, or the many other holocaust books and films, thoughts and images of the Holocaust stay with them for days. There is a certain kind of pain and suffering that runs through your mind as a thread or strand right through your daily life. For me, the same thing happens in a negative way if I see images like graphic violence or hardcore sex. It just stays with me until it finally becomes untangled with my positive, healthy thoughts. There is the whole matter of music that splits open when your kids move from Disney movie soundtracks to top 40, pop and rock. One of my kids hears every word of every song and either memorizes them or asks me what they mean (in detail). The other claims he listens to beat only (as part of his argument to listen to ___________________). I’ve got the same problem or choices when I flip through the TV and run into story lines like Modern Family and Love and Hip Hop in Atlanta. I know how my mind takes in art and media and I really want to keep it clean.
Whether in film, dance, music, art, what we see impacts us. Knowing this and accepting that each of us is going to process the impact differently, I have yet another dilemma with the creative arts. Rather than looking at the art or media alone, I have been thinking a lot about the author or creator. The perfect example is one of my favorite films Midnight in Paris. I love the time travel and the themes of love and, finally, personal choice (that seems right to me). Any way, in a conversation with my husband, he reminds me that the author is now divorced and married to his adopted daughter. I don’t know all the details, but this points south on my moral compass. My husband asks, do you not like the movie now? Should you not like the movie now? My answer is, I don’t know.
This conversation stems from my recent decision (husband was on board) to switch one of our daughter’s dance classes as a result of the singer of the song chosen for her recital number. So, let me say, I did not know the song when I made the decision. I only knew the pop singer. And, I knew the pop singer of the other dance numbers in that section of the recital (but no songs as that time). It was about the author, not the product. I could not have been more confident about my decision. It was about the author, not the product.
I am still working on the translation of our of recent family experience. I am still working on the questions that I need to ask before taking in arts and media. I am working from the fact that we’re impacted by what choose to see and hear. I now have added the layer of the artist’s life as well as their creation or product. The artist’s life matters, just like my every day and your every day matters. Please, please, please, I am not talking about legalism and perfection. I am talking about keeping it clean. I want to keep it clean on the author side and the product side. I want to keep it clean on both sides.
I know that there is so much more to say on keeping it clean in the arts and media. We’re all landing on different points on the pendulum as parents and as individuals. But I think the difference between our judgment calls is valid and is good for growth and conversation. I beg to differ sometimes, but I am glad that you do too. I pray that keeping it clean is something we all can agree is good for us and that our personal choices as believers open conversation, and not judgment, among the family of Christ.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah