New initiative urges Christians to shape modern art, entertainment

Washington D.C., Aug 16, 2012 / 04:08 am (CNA).- A new organization is encouraging Christians to use their “demographic size and collective buying power” to influence the movies, music and television produced by the entertainment industry.

“The goal of As1 is to restore the Church back to its historically traditionally role as patron of the arts,” said Jonathan Bock, founder of As1, which launched last week.

Bock told CNA in an Aug. 14 interview that there is a need for the Christians to be “in relationship” with the modern artistic community. Rather than painting and sculpture, the art of today entails the world of entertainment, primarily music, movies and television, he said.

There was a time when Christianity was “in partnership with great artists,” working with them to create great masterpieces, Bock observed.

Today, however, “we’ve virtually abandoned the arts,” he said, explaining that recent Christian generations have largely chosen to “walk away from pop culture and create our own subculture” in order to promote positive values and avoid the secular world’s corrupting influence.

Although this shift was “well-intentioned,” pop culture continued to thrive and needs to be engaged today, he said. Rather than denouncing artists as the enemy, we should be encouraging them to tell our story as Christians.

The current moment presents a huge opportunity for the necessary engagement, as several high profile Bible projects are currently being made, he added.

On Aug. 23, a new game show entitled “The American Bible Challenge” will air on Game Show Network. Comedian and Christian Jeff Foxworthy will host the show, in which contestants competing for charity are tested on their knowledge of the Bible.

In addition, renowned producer Mark Burnett is creating a 10-hour series on the Bible to air on the History Channel next spring.

Reports have also indicated that Russell Crowe will be starring in an upcoming film about Noah and Steven Spielberg has considered directing a movie about Moses, although the details of these plot lines are not yet clear.

Bock said that the Christian community is presented with an opportunity to target and support these Bible projects, making them into hits so that the entertainment industry will be encouraged to make more.

He compared this to the Renaissance practice of patrons rewarding artists for making the art that they wanted with generous commissions.

The faithful cannot merely wait for culture to be created and then react to it, he said. Rather, they must return to the practice of building partnerships during the creating process.

Bock hopes that As1 will be one way for the Christian community to unite in order to build such partnerships.

Those who wish to join the movement can sign up on an email list at As1.org to receive alerts about Bible projects to support.

Bock also hopes that the initiative will create a “vibrant online community.” In just the first week, As1 has attracted more than 6,000 Facebook fans, and the social media platform allows for ongoing debate, discussion and sharing of ideas among members.

Ultimately, Bock hopes the effort will lead Christians to have a greater interest in promoting and appreciating the arts, while guiding the makers of modern art to see the Christian community as an important audience.

“It’s making sure that we are a powerful, bankable audience that Hollywood desires,” he said.

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