Link between soccer, church and creativity

Sometimes people wonder why American soccer doesn’t perform well on the international stage. One theory is that European and Latin American countries simply put better athletes on the field. In these countries, if someone is a great athlete, he is going to play soccer. If someone is a great athlete in America, he’ll choose between football, basketball or even baseball. While soccer still comprises good athletes, the greatest pure athletes seem to flock to the other aforementioned sports. Now this is just a theory, but it does make sense. At least to me. Allow me then to draw a parallel with the church and the artistic/musical/literary world. I think many Christians have viewed this creative world the same way Americans view soccer today: as the last choice among better options. Yet this creative world once comprised numerous Christians. In fact at one time, the “Church’s soccer team” boasted some of the best talent and looked more like a European or Latin American soccer team.

For instance think of Michelangelo, Dante, T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton, Blaise Pascal, C.S. Lewis, Bach. They were contenders over the years, weren’t they?

But for some reason, the church seems to have lost interest in “soccer.” Instead of pursuing art or music that is simply good and expresses truth, we seem to have pursued, encouraged and promoted “Christian art” to sell in our bookstores or music that is simply “safe for the ‘little ears.’”

Now I’m NOT saying I find no place for contemporary Christian music, Christian art with Bible verses, or films like “Fireproof” (that one made me cry). But I don’t think anyone could disagree that Christians certainly have lost a step in this creative enterprise. To the rest of the world, we look like a present day American soccer team.

Perhaps professing Christians like Bono from U2 will lead the way in presenting universally appreciated art forms that creatively express truth. It’s been a while since we’ve fielded a team with the likes of writers like C.S. Lewis or artists like George Rouault. I don’t think that the Church has no talent, but that we have inadvertently led our best in other directions.

Our church (Hope Presbyterian) is hosting a coffeehouse/art show 7-10 p.m. May 1-2 to promote a greater appreciation for and celebration of this creative enterprise in the community.

I’m excited that other churches have actually begun doing the same thing. Maybe in the not-so-distant future, the church will one day, again, field a good “soccer team.” Maybe. But if not, I’ll still pull for the best out there.

Geoff Henderson, associate pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, 4455 30th St. E., Bradenton, can be reached at 727-3408.