Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fodder for Christian writers and artists

Some food for thought for Christians who want to write and create art that touches people of all persuasions.

First up, an interview with screenwriter and professor Craig Detweiler about film, and a 2-part interview with CS Lewis, possibly the last he ever gave, here and here.

Some gems:

What lessons would you most like to see Christian filmmakers learn?

Detweiler: We surely don't need any more End Times films. We don't need any more films that mean what they say and say what they mean. I think we have to discover the lost art of subtlety and subtext.

At Biola, we start our filmmakers with visual aesthetics. We let them know that film is not meant to be an illuminated Bible. This is an art form that is visual by design. It does not need words to convey the message. What I'd like us to do is figure out what lighting, sound, color, props, and set design say. I'd like us to discover the power of silent film, to discover how Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc worked and continues to work, how Sunrise continues to work, how The Last Laugh continues to work.


Wirt: Can you suggest an approach that would spark the creation of a body of Christian literature strong enough to influence our generation?

Lewis: There is no formula in these matters. I have no recipe, no tablets. Writers are trained in so many individual ways that it is not for us to prescribe. Scripture itself is not systematic; the New Testament shows the greatest variety. God has shown us that he can use any instrument. Balaam’s ass, you remember, preached a very effective sermon in the midst of his ‘hee-haws.’


Lewis: There is a character in one of my children’s stories named Aslan, who says, ‘I never tell anyone any story except his own.’ I cannot speak for the way God deals with others; I only know how he deals with me personally


Wirt: Do you believe that the Holy Spirit can speak to the world through Christian writers today?

Lewis: “I prefer to make no judgment concerning a writer’s direct ‘illumination’ by the Holy Spirit. I have no way of knowing whether what is written is from heaven or not. I do believe that God is the Father of lights -- natural lights as well as spiritual lights (James 1:17). That is, God is not interested only in Christian writers as such. He is concerned with all kinds of writing. In the same way a sacred calling is not limited to ecclesiastical functions. The man who is weeding a field of turnips is also serving God.”

Prayer in Parliament

I was checking out TVNZ's live Parliament video feed the other day, and was taken aback by the beautiful words of the prayer uttered when Parliament begins:

Almighty God, humbly acknowledging our need for thy guidance in all things, and laying aside all private and personal interests, we beseech thee to grant that we may conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the glory of thy holy name, the maintenance of true religion and justice, the honour of the Queen and the public welfare, peace and tranquillity of New Zealand, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Wouldn't that be a fantastic prayer to pray, if people meant it?

I was also surprised at the explicit reference to Jesus Christ. This is a deity-specific prayer, as opposed to the usual "Oh my God" you may hear sometimes.

Apparently, there's a move afoot to remove Christ's name from the prayer, and predictably there's opposition, as this article details.

It's an interview with David Major, who's had a lot of influence in the political world. A quote:
In the 1990s Mr. Major was chief executive of the National Party under Prime Ministers Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley. He said saying grace was a regular feature of dinner parties at Premier House, whereas now grace was not even said at a state banquet.

“All that’s come to a halt, and we’ve let it happen.”
I'm concerned at this attitude. As Christians, shouldn't we be more concerned that the prayer is being spoken and assented to by people who mostly don't have any relationship with God? Isn't that taking the Lord's name in vain?

So if there's a move to take Christ's name out of the official prayer, I would support it. Sadly, because the ideal is that everyone may know Christ for who He really is. But sadly, I suspect all this prayer will remind people of is New Zealand's historical roots, and a religion that used to make sense.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lessons from my cat

Millie's a boy with a girl's name. Long story.

But he teaches us a lot about God.

I used to read the Psalms and hear songs where it says, "I seek your face, O God."

It was one of those phrases that just washes over you unless you think about it.

Until one cold night, when Millie wanted to cuddle up in bed. He literally sought my face, tickling my nose with his whiskers in the process.

Why does he like my face? It's probably not as warm as my armpit, or as soft as my belly. But Millie seems to understand how I'm feeling when he looks at my face.

Communicative creature, isn't he?

And I guess that's what we're all about too. Communication. Connection. I've even written about it today on my other blog.

But how often do I forget that my relationship with God is a relationship? Because I deal with information all the time, sometimes I feel the answer to my spiritual needs comes from more information. It's not so.

Just relaxing and realising that I am always in the presence of a Friend is all it takes.