Saturday, January 21, 2006

Little Fat Girls

We are an arts community church. We want to create vibrant new artistic liturgies. We are in New York City where there are a lot of talented and vibrant artists.

It would not be hard to develop a culture of excellence where only an aesthetic of the highest quality would be allowed “on stage” in the public liturgy.

But I find the gospel’s focus on the poor and needy compelling me to think this through more carefully.

Because one of our core impetuses is to lead the church out of its misunderstanding of art which has caused it to live in an artistic desert, or to wallow in a bland dishonest non-humaness, it would be even more easy for us to trajectorize ourselves towards an aesthetic of excellence-at-any-cost.

How can we seek to journey towards a true understanding of how man uses art in society and in the public worship liturgy at an inspiring level, while simultaneously asking little fat girls to be in our dances?

First, read the poem below:

Liturgical Dance Notes

Balletic slim with gently nubile curves
And sweetly graced extensions of long limbs—
They sway, step, bend to syncopated hymns.
Their mothers beam. How well, they think, dance serves
God’s glory (and their own) in finer style
Than old processions jumbled full of tots,
White-veiled and bumptious, tasting nuns’ DO NOTs,
Surging off center down the middle aisle.

Lord, as You look on such eclectic prayer,
Such very now liturgic elegance
With its proponents all quite blind to where
It self-creates less happy circumstance,
Hold tight and tenderly within Your care
Little fat girls who won’t be asked to dance.

Mary Margaret Milbrath


studiobeerhorst said...

This got to me this morning. Thanks for this post my heart is with you here, thump, thump, thump.

Cindy said...

Jeff, I live with this issue all the time. (You don't have to live in NYC to care about excellence in art) ;-)I could go on and on with examples you already have in your head, I'm sure. I've come to the conclusion that part of the significance of the excellence issue lives within the tension, so I'd just better get used to the tension. I sort of addressed my take on it in a post a while back. I wrote that the goal for worship musicians is to "To settle for nothing less than excellence, yet never let excellence alone be our goal." That doesn't say it all. It's just as far as I've gotten.