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Welcome to the Arts and Social Justice Channel

Welcome to the Arts and Social Justice channel of urbanministry.org. The purpose of this channel is to explore and encourage the connection between the arts—including visual art, music, literature, theater, etc.—and social justice.

So why do we care about the arts in a world where people are suffering from poverty, disease and injustice? Art is entertaining, some may argue, but we are called to be Christ’s servants in a deeply troubled world. Do we really have time for such things? I have struggled with this issue on a deeply personal level. I know I should strive to do all I can for the Lord, but the Lord doesn’t always call me to do exactly what I expect.

Looking back, I realize that even when my doubts about the value of pursuing art were strongest, I was still spending money on music, still checking out novels from the library, still appreciating paintings at the museum. Why? Because novels like Les Miserables and The Lord of the Rings, music by people like Justin McRoberts, plays like "Ragtime," and countless other creative pieces are a part of what inspired me to do all those other great things in the first place. Art challenges me, rallying my desire to be a part of God’s plan. Not only does it spur us on to other things, I believe art is also part of God’s plan.

If you aren’t convinced, take a look at I Kings 6-7, remembering that before and after these scriptures were recorded, generations of Jewish children memorized every single verse. The passage painstakingly describes the construction and furnishing of the Temple, with great attention to the detail of how the pieces were decorated. All this art, down to the “400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals” on the tops of the pillars, was important enough to warrant memorization. Art in all its diversity—from hymns to hip-hop, stained glass to PowerPoint—is still a major part of the worship experience.

Art helps us not only to worship, but also to persevere, to grieve, to overcome our isolation, to describe the condition of our world and imagine how it could be different.

So how does art fit into your version of social justice? I invite you to comment on your experiences with art and to submit content that will help our community at urbanministry.org pursue its vision of social justice.