Day Jobs

Scot McKnight has a post from an Australian source on the Day Jobs of 20 Famous Writers.  Most of these seem to be what the writers were doing before they were able to make a living just from their writing.  I could list more examples of day jobs that writers held even after they became successful:  Wallace Stevens was an insurance executive; Geoffrey Chaucer and Nathaniel Hawthorne were both customs officials; countless writers today are teachers or pastors or manual laborers.

Day jobs are not just for authors.  Artists and musicians often support themselves primarily by teaching.

The fact is, it’s hard to make a living by writing or artistic pursuits.  That’s the nature of those particular callings.

We’ve got to remember that the doctrine of vocation is NOT primarily about making a living, despite the secular uses of that term.   It’s mainly about the various neighbors that God puts into your life and calls you to love and serve. [Read more…]

“I will make melody with all my being”

Still more from the Bible on the arts from passages I’ve always skimmed over!  In the first verse of Psalm 108, a psalm of David, we read “I will sing and make melody with all my being!”

So singing and making melody (I suppose that would include composing) are done with “all” the artists’ “being.”  Creating a work of art takes everything that the artist is.  Imagination, yes, but also the intellect, all of the artist’s memories, beliefs, personality.

The literal rendition of those Hebrew words is “my glory.”  I suppose that would include the artist’s talents and gifts.  But the point seems to be that the creation (“I will. . .make melody”) or performance (“I will sing”) of a work of art is a holistic effort on the part of the artist, rather than the exertion of a single faculty.

Does such close reading of a text violate the Law/Gospel hermeneutic?  Not at all!  This word is Law to an artist, who is often tempted to work superficially, tossing off something just for commercial reasons, being fake, insincere, and inauthentic, imitating someone else for fashion’s sake rather than being true to oneself as an artist.

[Read more…]

“To you, O Lord, I will make music”

More aesthetics in the Bible, from passages that I had never noticed before:  Psalm 101, identified as “a Psalm of David,” reflects specifically on singing and making music.  It begins:

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
    to you, O Lord, I will make music.

Elsewhere, David also refers to singing and making melody “to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6; see these other places).  So the Lord is the audience of the music.  The artist is addressing not other human beings but God Himself.

[Read more…]

The artistic freedom of musicians and bakers

Liberal musicians have long objected to their work being used by conservative politicians.  And, as the link shows, they usually get their way.  After all, artists should have the freedom not to have their creative work employed in a cause they do not believe in.

So why don’t the culinary artists who make wedding cakes have that same freedom? [Read more…]

Can the new Star Wars movie be good?

Did you know that a new Star Wars movie is opening this weekend?  I’m pretty sure you do, since I have never seen so much hype for a movie.  Nor have I seen so much merchandising before a movie has even been released.  As a Star Wars fan like the rest of humanity, I’m looking forward to seeing it and I hope it lives up to expectations.  But there are some aesthetic and cultural reasons why it might not. [Read more…]

Whether or not we kick the football

The Peanuts Movie currently in  theaters is a critical and commercial hit, and it brings back to mind the genius of cartoonist Charles Schulz.  I stumbled upon a great quotation from Schulz–a devout Christian–about humor, happiness, grace, and faith. [Read more…]