Sing a new song!

5 08 2009

Yesterday in my violin blog, I shared my new favorite quote, by cellist Pablo Casals:

“Perhaps it is music that will save the world.”

A nice idea, surely, and one which gives legitimacy to the role of music (and by extension, any other creative pursuit) within our society. Community arts initiatives repeatedly testify to the fact that art, music, and theatre can be effective tools of inspiration,  affirmation, and transformation.  But do we really believe that the arts, by themselves, are really that powerful?  I know that even I tend to downplay the importance of artistic initiatives when compared to, for example, social justice programs.  And in the church especially, the arts definitely take a backseat when compared with missions, evangelism, or spiritual formation (**Not that such things are not important, because they certainly are.  But what about an integrative vision that incorporates and nurtures the arts as an essential aspect of ministry??**)

In The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann suggests that igniting the church’s imagination is vital to its very capacity for prophetic ministry.  As an example, he analyzes the Song of the Sea (Ex. 15:1-18), in which the people of Israel, newly liberated from Egypt, sing praises to YHWH for their deliverance.

“It is only a poem, and we might rightly say that singing a song does not change reality.  However, we must not say that with too much conviction…Only where there is doxology can there be justice, for such songs transfigure fear into energy.”

Art for art’s sake?  May it never be! Instead,  O God, may we use our creative abilities to imagine another world as it bursts forth and blossoms into our new reality!