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  • Jonathan Runyan

Art & Children

Hey Parents (see last paragraph for what's coming in Children's Church)! So, when I was a kid, my favorite movie was Aladdin. I would run all over the house, wearing baggy sweatpants without a shirt, imagining the Sultan's guards were always one step behind me. And although my pale skin, slow movement and lanky frame was the exact opposite of an agile Arab in the middle-east (as depicted by Disney), I didn't care.

My imagination was running wild.

Imagination is inextricably linked to art. Whether we use our imaginations or not, the desire for art is built inside all of our brains to some degree. Whether we appreciate special effects in a movie, a sunset, or a moving piece of music, we're always connecting to art. It doesn't take much work to do so, it's simply natural.

And the reason it's not only natural but, it's fair to say, instinctive, is that God is an infinitely grand artist Himself. And being that way, he naturally (or supernaturally) built those same desires inside of every single one of us.

You only have to stare at a blazing fire for a few moments, or a midnight sky to realize this is true.

Now, while art can be recognizable, bad art can be just as so. No, I'm not talking about a canvas with inconsistent splatters of paint, we'll let better minds have that discussion.

What I am talking about, is art with little imagination. Art with little thought, inspiration or drive. I remember eagerly anticipating, and eventually buying the sequel to Aladdin. It was called The Return of Jafar.

It didn't take long for me to realize that something was off. The genie sounded different. Aladdin's face sometimes contorted in odd ways when he spoke, as did other characters. One time, a Aladdin leaped over a palace wall, and the designs and shapes on the wall strangely changed whenever the scene cut back to it. As for the characters themselves, they had no passion; and sadly neither did the story.

Whether it was because Disney was only looking for the return a sequel can easily offer following a successful block buster, or they couldn't acquire the same writers and animators (the same way they couldn't acquire Robin Williams as the genie), for whatever reason the film simply fell flat. It was bad art. It wasn't something that impacted you, or made you remember (at least for good reasons).

The same is consequently true in Christian art. There are those driven by money, or the recognition that comes with imitating successful brands. Whatever the reason may be, there's good Christian music, film and literature; and then there's Christian music, film and literature that leaves you typing out those three modern letters to express disinterest and dissatisfaction.


Anyway, this is a really long-winded way of telling you the kindergarten through fourth graders, once a month, will hear and watch Christian art during Children's Church (following worship). We'll be starting with Theo Presents, followed by activities that reinforce the core ideas of the story. The messages are well done. It's not pixar, and it's not grandiose. It's a simple cartoonist with a good story. We hope, like all art that's done well, it reminds them of the God who made them, and that in the end they are blessed by it.

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