The Divergent book series that recently came to live on the big screen holds a compelling idea. There are factions, groups, of people that maintain the functioning of a community. Each child gets placed in one of these groups and, until the divergent arise, everything goes like clockwork. This plot seems to one of many that has recently hit our culture with great success. And in each of these stories there seems a great void.
The factions that appear in Divergent make up the five most basic workforces that you would need to keep a community alive and functioning. And nowhere among these groups are no mention of art. Music, visual art, drama, literature. They are completely absent. In fact, a pivotal part in the similar book The Giver, was the realization of the existence of music – something no one in the static community was able to hear.
We look at these dystopian worlds and see gray flatness. There is no abundant life. There is only existing. Part of this yes, is their constraints in be individuals and make their own decisions, but both my husband and I came out of the movie theater asking where the music was. Perhaps if there was art in the factions there would be a vivid difference in the monotonous and confined way of living portrayed. Perhaps there would be wholeness.
Hypothesizing alternative outcomes in fiction is not really my intention. But the emptiness of these worlds leads me to wonder out loud…when our world lacks art perhaps we are losing color in our life. Maybe we are not whole.
My husband and I are musicians. We make our living through music. It is a vital part of our lives. My day is constantly accompanied by music – otherwise it feels empty. Tanner is always singing – at his desk or on the motorcycle. We look at future houses based on how well it will accommodate our piano. We pour our time into helping the next generation make music. Without music we wouldn’t have the life we have. It would be as lifeless as those gray factions in Divergent, or district 12 in the Hunger Games, or the community Jonas is from in The Giver. We find wholeness in making music.
You may not be the musicians that we are. That may not set off sparks in your heart. But what about painting? What about great works of literature? What about being on stage? Art may seem superfluous and unnecessary, yes, but then … take a look at what life would be without it. Fragmented. Empty. Broken and Missing.
And yet that’s what sometimes happens within the church. In attempt to maintain a sacred life and avoid all things secular, we narrow our talk of God to a small box labeled “spiritual matters”, forgetting that God desires wholeness.
Despite our constant talk about the lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality. We have misunderstood the concept of the lordship of Christ over the whole of man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives and for our culture. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. This whole notion is rooted in the realization that Christianity is not just involved with “salvation” but with the total man in the total world.” -Francis Schaeffer
For the Christian truly pursuing the whole life that God has intended for him, there will be no want of art, of enjoying beauty, of creating and imagining. Paintings will be colorful and relished, music will be rich and applauded, stories will be insightful and pondered. The gaps will be filled and through art Christ will bring us toward wholeness and peace.