My friend Daniel Siedell has written another excellent article over at Patheos discussing the intersection of faith, grace and life through art (see below). It is well worth your time to read what might be the best perspective I’ve heard on Serrano’s Piss Christ. And his thoughts on what it means to be a Cultural Theologian are even better.
I remember my first exposure into both topics – Piss Christ and being a Cultural Theologian – came from my dad. He is an artist, and I have benefited greatly from growing up in a home where art was celebrated and questions were asked that forced us to think, not just regurgitate or rearrange preconceived prejudices. When I fist came to know Christ, I remember one such question my dad asked: “What would you do if you saw a picture of Jesus in a toilet [or jar or urine] as a work of art?”
My answer then was somewhat astute for someone my age and maturity in Christ. I answered, “Well, Jesus was crucified in a trash heap which was the equivalent of a toilet back in his day. Whether the artist meant it or not, I think it’s an excellent picture of the beauty and grace of God in the midst of the crap of life.”
My response has not changed to this day, and thanks to Daniel, I know now that I was on to something back then.
Addendum: To learn more about how to see and perceive art with eyes of faith, and not through culture-war jargon, I highly recommend Daniel Siedell’s book God in the Gallery (Kindle edition here) Also, for something philosophically similar but addressing cinema and movies, I would encourage Brian Godawa’s Hollywood Worldviews (Kindle edition here).