“I want to talk to you today about the art of courage,” says Steve Taylor, the director of the movie Blue Like Jazz. Today, Taylor was in Abilene to speak with students at Hardin-Simmons University about the film, which will screen in HSU’s Logsdon Chapel tonight. He calls the movie an example of an unlikely pairing of art and faith.
Contrasting two paintings, one of a glowing chapel in the woods by proclaimed Christian artist Thomas Kinkade, and Pablo Picasso’s painting, Guernica, representing the horrors of war, he says, “There is no truth in this painting,” showing the chapel. “In contrast,” he says, “Picasso, does not seemingly portray Christianity, but there is truth here.”
“That is where the art of courage comes in,” he says. Picasso is telling people a truth the world does not want to hear. As Christians we have to have the courage to tell the truth. “The church has abdicated its role in shaping culture,” he says. By doing so, “We are not showing the world the relevance of Jesus.”
In 2010, author Donald Miller, writer of the best-selling book, Blue Like Jazz, announced that after years of trying to raise money for the movie adaptation of his book, he and the film’s co-creators, Taylor and cinematographer Ben Pearson, would put the project on hold.
While it looked like the film would not sweep the country as the book had, Taylor told students about the groundswell of donations from a website that made the movie possible.
Taylor told students in this morning’s chapel service that the money for the movie was raised in just 30 days with 4,500 donations on the website Kickstarter.com. The movie, Blue Like Jazz, and its public funding illustrates a new generation of Christians who have the courage to tell the truth, who want to see Christians creating better art.
It is scripture, to be the salt of the earth, a preservative against decay in the world, he says. “If Christians are negligent in telling the truth, our culture decays. The Bible tells us we have to be the salt and the light of the Earth.” Those first disciples would have been intimately familiar with the preservative function of salt. Without refrigeration, meat will quickly spoil and rot unless it is packed in salt. Many Christians today think that Christianity means family friendly. “A safe Bible for the family would be a much shorter book,” he states. The role of Christians is to counteract the world’s corruption, like salt preserves against decay.
“Use your God-given creativity to tell the truth. Creativity and courage will work to inspire the world. Know your Bible. First Corinthians tells us to know the mind of Christ. When you have that, you don’t have to create Christian propaganda. The mind of Christ will flow naturally out of the work you do,” he says.
HSU students, faculty and staff, and members of the public, will have an opportunity after tonight’s free screening, to talk to Taylor. The movie starts at 7 p.m. in Logsdon Chapel on the HSU campus with the Q and A session to follow.
One interesting side note to the film, points out Taylor, 1,600-plus people who donated $100 each to the making of the movie are all listed as associate producers in the credits of the movie.