Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Art is Good Religion

By: Stephanie S. Smith, Managing Editor

This past weekend my family and I went to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the long-awaited sequel in C. S. Lewis' Narnia series on film. I've grown up on the books, cherish them as classics, and always love encountering Aslan again on the big screen, majestic in both strength and tenderness.

When the movie was over and the credits started scrolling, a little girl ran down the aisle until she was right in front of the big screen. She just stood there, staring up into it, transfixed, and I thought, She wants to jump into Narnia through the movie screen just like the children were swept up through the painting!

Maybe she wanted to rescue the seven lords, ride on Aslan's back, or fight bravely for the good. Sooner or later a parent called out to her, and she trudged reluctantly back to reality. But the scene impressed on me how important imagination is to faith. C. S. Lewis is well-known for his spiritual parallels woven into his literary works, and I believe that telling the gospel through stories is not only good for the creative life, it is also challenges the spiritual life.

Madeleine L'Engle was another such writer whose redemptive imagination shines through works such as the beloved A Wrinkle in Time series. In her nonfiction book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, she says, “Christian art? Art is art; painting is painting; music is music; a story is a story. If it’s bad art, it’s bad religion, no matter how pious the subject.”

But if it's good art, it stands to reason it is also "good religion." Perhaps this is why the Narnia epics are so well-loved, even by people who do not know Aslan "by another Name."

What do you think about Madeleine L'Engle's quote? Do you agree, or disagree?


  1. I had to turn these over several times to determine how I felt about them. It's very true. If the art is good, non-believers will like it and consider it good religion. But if its bad, then both non-believers and believers will consider it bad religion. Pretty brilliant. Thanks for making me think!

  2. Hey Juju, you're welcome! :) I think that to create something beautiful, to appeal to someone's artistic senses, is a powerful way to show the world that God is the source of our creative abilities, as the Creator Himself. And I think our art shines all the brighter when made in His Name.

  3. Oh true! That is the funny thing about quotes. It's all in how you take it. I like your thoughts best.


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