Friday, March 03, 2006

Seeing Christ through other cultures' eyes

We're used to seeing religious art through traditional Western eyes.
What about seeing the story of the Bible through the art of other cultures?

When we do, we notice new insights about the Lord Jesus through the eyes of another culture.

Take for instance, Native American Christian art. The picture on the left is of the Resurrection. The one on the right is of Jesus and His Disciples.

Then there is Francophone West African culture.

What would a picture of the story of Mary and Martha with Jesus look like?

Or what about the Empty Tomb?

And then there is Indonesia. What would the Nativity look like in the Pribumi (native Indonesian) culture of West Java?

For missionaries, such art helps them communicate the message of the Kingdom in their contexts. For us, it shows us the richness of Christ's Kingdom and His love for the whole world.

An American Indian (feather, not dot! ha!) once asked me if it was sinful to play a drum in their services and dance unto the Lord. Is it too pagan, he wanted to know.

I responded that if in our Western churches, we can build church buildings in the style of immoral, pagan Roman temples, if we can set them up with pews like the pagan Roman Senate, if we can have a choir which comes straight from the raucous pagan Greek theatre, if we can have a sermon by a Roman-style orator, if we can have a piano and organ which are from the filthy taverns of seventeenth century Europe, if we can sing hymns set to the bawdy beer-drinking tunes of eighteenth century England, then he could probably beat his drum and dance around a little with no harm to the Kingdom.

The Indian man bent over with laughter.