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Filtering by Tag: art and faith

Art Matters. Let’s Save Ruminate.

Daniel Bowman, Jr.

Ruminate photo for Oct 20  

Here at Relief, we are ever thankful for the art-and-faith community that sustains us: that large but loosely affiliated group of people around the world who value excellence in writing and the arts, and who also are followers of Christ. This is our tribe, and together we’re shaping the landscapes of literature and belief.

We plan our attendance at the Festival of Faith and Writing or the Glen Workshop a year or more in advance. We zealously await new books by Marilynne Robinson, Wendell Berry, Kathleen Norris, or others whose works are the cornerstones of our reading lives.

And we read, publish in, blog for, work at, or otherwise engage art-and-faith journals such as Image, Books & Culture, Rock & Sling, Saint Katherine Review…and of course the beautiful Ruminate. Here is where emerging voices—are own among them—find homes alongside award-winning writers.

Some of these journals are housed at universities, or are part of organizations that can help financially sustain their work. Others are run independently, operating entirely on the goodwill of savvy and passionate volunteers.

*                *                *

Ruminate has been independent since its founding. Its staff have day jobs and often do their work at the journal on nights and weekends, between family and professional commitments. These dear friends and colleagues have found that this model is no longer sustainable.

That’s where we come in. We can provide balance to numbers that are dramatically skewed.

Did you know that Ruminate receives and carefully reads over 5,000 submissions a year? How many of those submitters offer any support in return? Well, the journal has around 500 subscribers, a number of which are libraries, along with four monthly donors and about fifteen one-time donors per year.

It’s clear that the vast majority who send to Ruminate—who expect and receive excellent attention to our work—are not doing our part in the relationship. Now is our chance to change that trend.

They’ve launched a fundraising campaign, and they need every one of us in the art-and-faith community to give something. A one-time gift of $30 or $60 is doable for most of us, even if it requires a bit of sacrifice. If you can give a little more, please consider doing it. They’ve already raised over $13,000.00 but still have a long way to go. If they cannot meet this financial goal, Ruminate will be forced to close its doors in 2016.

We’re all in this together. If one art-and-faith journal goes out, we’re all much worse for it. Ruminate knows how badly our world needs the comfort and challenge of excellent faith-infused art. Let’s show them how much we love what they do.

Please take a moment to read this note from Ruminate’s Editor-in-Chief Brianna Van Dyke.

Then click here to do your part.

Please spread the word in your own art-and-faith circles by sharing these links. Thank you!

I’m a Recovering Church Dramatist

Paul Luikart

26 Luikart Photo I’m a recovering church dramatist. Back in the day, I worked with a performance team. We wrote sketches and performed them during Sunday services. We had a lot of fun and we were, dare I brag, pretty funny. This was in Chicago where improv is king. We'd craft scripted sketches out of improvised scenes we made up related to the pastors’ sermon topics. It was fairly organic at first and, for the most part, we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. As long as we didn’t swear or anything.

I was proud of what we created back then, but as I reflect on those sketches now, there’s a bit of a dark, nagging undertone that I’m not sure I noticed at the time. It’s not that what we did was bad, but it never could have stood alone. What we produced was inextricably linked to those sermons, subserviently linked in fact, and in the big picture, subserviently linked to the evangelical purposes of either a) saving souls or b) edifying saved souls. Art, if you can call what we did art, was a serf to the vassal of the modern evangelical church.

A be-all-end-all definition of art is difficult to come across, but one thing I'm certain of is that art is not a slave. Roping art to a cause of some kind is a misuse of it, one that demonstrates a core misunderstanding of the stuff. But stating what art isn’t begs the question, "What is it?" Ha. You might just as well ask, "Who is God?" especially if you're up for some maddening non-answers. There are some pat answers—"Art is human expression," "God is love"—that aren't necessarily false. It's just that they can only ever be partially true.

Art is inherently mysterious. I think the typical human response to the grandly mysterious (like art, like God) is a knee-jerk, semi-conscious attempt at appropriation. If we can’t fully describe something, we yank it from its own empire and compress it to grasp-able suburban terms, not realizing that as we compress it, we shear it of its essence, the thing that makes the thing the thing. Art is no longer art, but propaganda, and propaganda harangues with one of two choices: Are you with us or are you against us? Your life teeters on your answer. Answer now.

Art, like God, permits an infinite number of responses to itself. It piques curiosity, provokes introspection, picks at our core values, and invites us to return over and over again. Those who patronize the arts correctly remove their crowns and listen. Those who patronize incorrectly first seek themselves in the painting, the novel, the symphony, and give up on art all together when, in fact, they find themselves.

The leadership at my church back then eventually chopped our sketches from the services permanently. I never knew why exactly. We didn’t swear, not even once. Probably because first they made us quit writing our own stuff and use Willow Creek Community Church’s pre-written stuff. But whatever the reason, it was for the best. Though we were ultimately mistreating art, it never shunned us. Art, like God, was kind to us.