Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Art and Christianity Meme

Phil Ritchie, and someone else (who I've already forgotten! it's been a busy few days) tagged me with the following challenge:

To list an artwork, drama, piece of music, novel, and poem that you think each express something of the essence of Christianity and for each one explain why. Then tag five other people. Original idea from Jonathan Evens.

This is going to test my cultural horizons, but here goes.

Art: Banksy's Bethlehem murals

Not just the image - which itself connects to the message and passion of Jesus - but the location, on probably the symbolic structure of human division in the world since the end of the Berlin Wall.

Drama: Difficult, as there are stacks of films and dramas with gospel imagery. I'll plump for the Shawshank Redemption, especially the final escape, where Andy Dufresne leaves the prison, is 'baptised' in the river and the rain, and goes on to a new life with a new identity and riches already against his name in the bank, sending back a message for his friend to come and join him.

Music: 'Restore My Soul' by The Choir. One of my favourite bands anyway, full of great imagery "I come to you with 10 fingers smoking/from turning the pages of sin/with my spirit choking/from earning the wages of sin". Talks of a God who, no matter how much of a mess we make, is ready and willing to restore us.

Novel: I'm tempted to say the Harry Potter series, but I'll plump for Christ Recrucified by Nikos Kazantzakis, a retelling of the gospel through a 20th century peasant village and their passion play. Lord of the Flies by Golding also crossed my mind, but it's pretty low on redemption.

Poem: God's Grandeur, by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Incredibly concentrated, and bursting with imagery, it feels like the meaning is wanting to explode out of the limitations of mere words. The idea of a world charged with God's glory, like electricity, is a wonderful image.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil ;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod ?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod ;
And all is seared with trade ; bleared, smeared with toil ;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell : the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent ;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things ;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah ! bright wings.


  1. Some great choices David and a couple of things I hadn't come across to check out. I was tempted by the Harry Potter series and the Shawshank Redemption is one of those films that reveals more with each viewing. I was in Bethlehem this time last year and was frustrated not to see more of the artwork on the wall.

  2. Ah, I've only just noticed that you tagged me. I'll get onto this during the post-Christmas relaxation! Apologies for my tardiness!