Art with Missional Intent in Paris - Steve Thrall
Engaging in Art with Missional Intent in Paris
by Steve Thrall
Art is recognized as an important integral part of French history. It is a highly valued element of the social and cultural context. The call to mission by engaging in art with missional intent may be quite new to most Christians. Yet given France’s long-established love affair with the arts, cultural shifts taking place, and the renewed spiritual interest being expressed, the time for this kind of missionary activity is now.
For most of human history the arts have been centered in the urban sphere of influence. Artistic expression is a public expression. Art depends upon groups of people for its production, distribution, and appreciation.
In France, Paris has been (and is) the undisputed center of this artistic interest with its museums, concert halls, art schools, theaters, and galleries. In addition, the commercial production and distribution of a wide variety of media (which depend upon art such as film, music, literature, radio, and television) are city center businesses. The arts together with the city function as one to communicate and influence the values of society.
Art by its very nature, is indirect. A majority of French people are not yet ready to interact with God’s truth directly. For this reason the indirectness of art can be very important for mission. Art, as a metaphor, is capable of disclosing truth for the first time; it can lead to the first steps on a long spiritual journey. Art’s allusiveness suggests, prods, points, and indicates truth subtly and consistently. Art can, at times, become God’s “still, quiet voice” speaking to the French soul.