I am a great mono-tasker (the polar opposite of a multitasker) and so I will have to put Unfolding Forms on the back burner for the next week or two as I’m working on a major essay. In a nutshell, I’m trying to look at some of the “theological” aspects of Northrop Frye‘s concept of the imagination (specifically his “analogy of vision,” derived from Blake) and how his work on the Bible and literature relates to similar themes in Tillich, Barth and Balthasar.
In the meantime, however, I’ll just say that I’ve been thinking it’s interesting to consider the “Christian music” theme I mentioned last week from the opposite angle. What about “non-Christian” (although I bristle at the term) artists appropriating Christian/religious imagery to communicate their own message? Does their work – no matter how far it strays from orthodoxy – somehow fall under the umbrella of “Christian” art and culture? In other words, can even the most irreverent, “blasphemous” work best be seen as part of an ongoing dialogue that descends from (and would be impossible apart from) deep Christian roots? For example, is Kazantzakis a “Christian” novelist in some way, and is the film version of Last Temptation one of the best Christian movies ever made? What about Damian Hirst, or (back to pop culture) Madonna? Or are we resistant to anyone using our sacred symbols to speak a “secular” language… indeed, such a redeployment, done without a real understanding of the subject matter (think of The Da Vinci Code) could potentially be even more annoying than Christians talking too much about Jesus.
Make up your own mind, as the issues are complex… but while you’re at it, take a look at my article on Lady Gaga’s new song “Judas” at The Other Journal Mediation blog. If nothing else, I think the song (and the whole notion of “cultural baptism”) is profoundly interesting as a reinvention of the Jesus-Judas story. What do you think?