Art With A Message Is Propaganda
Speaking truth into the music and art scene today can be intimidating. The gospel is so countercultural. Also, the sense is that everyone’s already heard and are not interested. Possibly one of the more intimidating obstacles is the concept that faith should be a private matter and not to be spoken of in public. Based on this assumption people will say that we shouldn’t “use” the platform of art and music to preach. Or that art with a message is propaganda.
I disagree on two levels. Firstly, I believe people want to discuss and hear about life, God, morality, spirituality, etc., because deep down they are hungry for truth. The lead singer of the band Blur was once quoted saying:
“Never have people thought so hard about their lives and come to such indecision, or felt further apart. We’re powerless and confused - by politics and work and sex and even things like morality.”
Secondly, I believe that when I create, my art is essentially an expression of myself - my talent, ideas, questions, beliefs, and often the deepest things that words can’t express. Therefore, if my faith is at the centre of my life, it will come out. My art will always have a message, the message that is closest to my heart.
This often happened to me when I studied at an art university in the south of Brazil. Despite being told that my faith shouldn’t come into my work and studies, I found it almost impossible to avoid delving into the topic of God and the Gospel in my conversations, class discussions and the papers I needed to hand in. In my final dissertation, I decided to write about how much our worldview (what we believe in and how we see the world) affects everything we do. So I went round asking students and teachers some of those big questions that identify a worldview, like “what is the meaning of life?” Often people didn’t know what to answer but appreciated talking about it.
After finishing the research based on this “worldview questionnaire”, my orientation professor told me I should answer the questions myself as part of the concluding chapter. So I shared my faith openly. My graduation dissertation was a declaration of the Gospel and how it affected everything I did. I had to present it to a board of teachers and my class. It was well received by all and got top marks.
That whole exercise made me realise two things: people are thirsty to talk about topics that matter, the big questions, the God questions; but also, when you ask people about what they believe and listen first, they are willing to hear about what you believe.
Don’t be afraid to speak the truth in your art and the scene God has called you to. And don’t forget that listening first gets you a long way. You get to know and understand your context, and you gain people’s trust and interest.