More on Artists and Terrorists

Arts and TheologyIn my previous post, I wrote this:

We all create, sometimes for life, sometimes for death. We are a mix of artist and terrorist.

I was reading Mark 14:1-11 and came across this idea of artist/terrorist.  This event takes place before the Lord’s Supper.  A woman anoints Jesus with some costly perfume, in preparation for His burial.  The disciples scold her for “wasting” such a precious and costly commodity, it could have been useful. Jesus receives her gift and defends her actions to the clueless disciples.  Mark then places an interesting two verses: Judas apparently leaves the scene in his plot to betray Jesus.

There are a few interesting things going on here at first glance.  We find an artist, a terrorist and some pragmatists.  The artist is the woman who created something our Savior deemed “beautiful.”  She sacrificed and created a beautiful moment.  The disciples, not really getting it, only see the pragmatic side of things- the money would have been better off for a more “useful” purpose.  Like giving to the poor, or something that really helps other people.  Their false assumption is that something beautiful, even if it be ephemeral, is worthy of our time and energy and money.

The woman was basking in the presence of the Lord, and the Lord affirmed her.

The woman is contrasted with Judas, the man who would try to betray Jesus.  He was not basking in Jesus’ presence, he wanted to remove His presence.  Both chose to create.  One chose to create life, the other death. And this is the war within ourselves- all have the power to create, and with that comes the responsibility to create life.  Taking cues from Chuck DeGroat, part of us wants to create life and part of us wants to create war.  Part of us is an artist, part of us is a terrorist.

There will always be people who don’t get it, like the disciples.  “Art is a waste of time.” “Shouldn’t you evangelize the lost instead?” Though good questions will arise, artists will always have to defend themselves for spending time creating.  But there is a real truth that many who don’t define themselves as creative types often miss: we are all artists.  We are always creating, like a language or a culture, it’s just part of being human, being made in the image of God.  And, as artists, we look up to see Jesus looking down on our attempts at creating beauty in our lives, and he says “You have done a beautiful thing for me.”

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