Let me preface this with two statements:
1. Evangelism and social justice are necessary and normative to the Christian life.
2. Art has a place in shining light on and practicing in both these issues.
For years, Christian writers have been decrying the idea that every book by a Christian author must be evangelistic. I don’t think anyone means that a book necessarily can’t have an evangelistic idea in it. After all, conversion is central to story, whether that conversion be Christian or not (meaning, the conversion could be that someone realizes something about themselves or solves a murder or gets the girl).
As we’ve been discussing this, I’ve seen a rise of books addressing social justice issues. These books have been celebrated for their message. And while many of these books are good, and, as I mentioned above, I believe art has historically had (and should have) a connection to social justice and other concerns of its day, I wonder if we are simply substituting one message for another.
I’m wondering aloud here, mind you.
Art does something–that I’ll concede. It draws you to beauty or works through suffering or lets you know you’re not alone, for example.
My question, then, is how much does it need to do? At what point do we subjugate it to utility? At what point does it stand alone?
Small print: Title quote from Woody Allen