Tribe House Blog

Art For Art’s Sake (money for god’s sake)

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Posted : November 19th, 2012 by

The first recording I ever bought was an obscure single by the band 10cc called ‘Art for Art’s sake’ (money for God’s sake). I was about 14 years old at the time. As an adult I have often thought about what drew me to that song. It seems kind of weird given that it really wasn’t a teenage anthem any normal teenager would rush out to buy!  As a working musician the ‘money for God’s sake’ part of the title has often become a prayer of mine!

The term ‘Art for Art’s sake’ is something you hear a fair bit. But in my experience in most faith communities it is often more acurate to say ‘Art for Sunday’s sake’. It has been a struggle to be accepted as an artist outside of the Sunday service context for many of us in our faith communities.

Franky Schaeffer once wrote a book called ‘Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts’ in it was depicted a Christian bumper sticker displayed at an art gallery, with the words ‘Christian Art circa 1982‘ on the plinth. That image really impacted me because my Christian experience was kind of like that too. Art was especially valued in the church if it was ‘Christian Art’ and it became that if it had a biblical theme or if it had a bible verse on it. In summary it was valued if it could be utilised in a service. It was considered good art if it embellished the sermon in some way. So Drama skits, special music or posters with cats hanging on baskets with faith bible verses were all valued, whereas songs about life or ‘non faith’ issues were of no use to anyone.  You could climb the popularity ladder as an artist if you focused on overtly spiritual themes but anything else was spiritual suicide.

As a musician who became a Christian as a young adult I became used to playing both in our local church and also down the pub. Yet I was often seen as a bit odd by the faith community and would be asked about the theological wisdom of mixing ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ music. Perhaps the most difficult thing was the very real lack of ‘physical’ support from our church community as we ventured in to the wider community with our music. It seemed we were loved during the worship times but unsupported in the concert venue. It created a Schizophrenic kind of existence as musicians.

Tribe House has a deep conviction that Art is to be valued not because it fits with a program but because it is important as it is. Art speaks for it’s self It takes the audience to interact with it to get the meaning of the message. It doesn’t need a sermon at the end to give it value. It is debatable if all Art belongs in a church service, and of course the definition of Art is always up for debate, but what we do know for sure is that we need strive to value all Art, and more importantly care for the precious Artists who create it.

A half decent English playwright called Billy Shakespeare once said that “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”, the stage is way wider than just the Sunday service and many of us are waking up to the reality that us doing our Art brings hope to the communities we live in. We do belong to God and to each other and we were created to be creative and to express the view of the world that is uniquely ours where ever that may be.

Shakespeare quote from: As you Like It. Act II, Scene VII



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