God’s creativity informs the calling of songwriters, novelists and painters. Does it do the same for pastors, parents, and plumbers? In Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, musician and award-winning novelist Andrew Peterson explores how believers of all kinds participate in the “great mystery of creativity,” combining anecdotes from his own journey with a nuts-and-bolts look at the work of making songs and stories. W. David O. Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, spoke with Peterson about the art of telling the truth as beautifully as possible.
What can your book offer to artist readers?
I hope they will find a fresh passion for doing whatever creative work they’re called to do. While I was writing, I kept asking myself: Is this encouraging? And I mean that literally, as in, “Will this give someone courage?” I hoped, first, to be as honest as possible about the mental battles I’ve experienced and, second, to offer some practical advice. The idea was to tell people they aren’t crazy if they feel lost in the woods—and then to show them a trail.
What can it offer to non-artist readers?
All of God’s creatures are creative in some way. To use J.R.R. Tolkien’s word, we’re all subcreators made in the image of a Creator. That’s why I object when people refer to themselves as “creatives,” not only because it sets up a sort of “creative class” (which strikes me as presumptuous) but also because implies that non-artists aren’t called to create.
My wife is a prime example. She would never call herself as an artist, but she’s one of the most creative people I know, as evidenced by the care she invests in decorating our home, the way she loves our children, and the way our community is better and brighter because of her presence. My friend, the author Jonathan Rogers, says that the arts make up a smaller slice of the creative pie than, say, friendship or a family dinner. I’ve found that songwriting isn’t all that different from gardening, teaching, or planning a church potluck.
How would you describe your vocation as an artist in one sentence? And how does it connect to the title of your book?
I want to tell the truth as beautifully as I can. That may feel like a small thing. But when I think about the vast emptiness of space and the stars that beautifully adorn that heavenly canvas—that’s what I’m trying to get at with the title. Seemingly small things really do matter, and as Christians we can either be afraid of the darkness or we can scatter stars across it.
You write about how Christian radio stations now only play worship music. What’s lost, to your mind, for listeners who no longer get a chance to hear songs about the whole of the Christian life—good and bad, hard and easy, serious and lighthearted, sacred and ordinary?
I’m grateful for the fact that Christian radio stations have (sometimes) played my songs. I certainly don’t want to burn any bridges there. It’s easy to gripe about things like Christian radio until you meet the people working in it—people who, in many cases, are doing great work within the narrow confines it affords.
That said, I see a gnostic tendency to elevate so-called “worship songs” as holier than songs about the grit of daily life. At the other end of the spectrum there’s a tendency to buck against churchy language and elevate what we call “secular music.” But the Incarnation is the confluence in Christ of the wholly divine and the wholly human.
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Source: Christianity Today