Yesterday I happened upon an interview of India Arie in which she was asked what advice she would give to girls aspiring to do what she does. The message that rang clear to me was “Be true to yourself”, or to put in another way, be real. This came up again in a conversation earlier today when Adele was mentioned. It is one of the things we agreed brings incredible power to her music. We could have ended there, but something in my mind linked it all back up with an earlier moment in the conversation where the man I was talking to questioned why we have a “Christian” music industry with an observation that most “non-Christian” artists simply make music in which their theological views manifest. I believe this stemmed from a discussion of Paul Simon’s most recent album.
The resulting thoughts brought me to the statement above, “real” doesn’t skate. Realize that these thoughts are based as much in my own experience as speculation. I think far too many “Christian” artists aren’t real enough in their walk to get past the surface. True depth is more than theological declaration or canned phrases. There’s far more life in real Christianity than we allow within our closely controlled boundaries. When it comes down to it as an artist, I’d simply say it’s hard. It’s hard to get past the platitudes. It’s hard to get past the surface and relate the depth, the mess, the “real” that is a living faith, but that’s what we should be striving for as believers. I don’t have all the answers, but somehow I am not comfortable with artistic work that dwells as long in the questions as the answers. And yet some of the most powerful, deep and living artistic work I’ve seen from believers is an honest journey displayed for others to share in and can be filled with unanswered questions. It may very well be the work in progress and far from finished.
Real acknowledges what I am, and in vulnerability shares all of who I am humbly knowing that God is displaying His glory in me through all things in my life. May our art be a journey as are our lives and may we seek to be real. Go deep. Be real. And remember that real doesn’t skate.