Crossroads - the intersection of faith, arts and Canadian culture

Today marks the beginning of a project that’s been percolating in the recesses of my mind for a few years now: a book on the intersection of faith, arts and Canadian culture.
Of course, the question comes to mind: “do we need another book about the arts and faith?” The simple answer, from a marketing perspective, is probably “no.” Kilolitres of ink have been spilled and reams of paper have been bound to produce the pile of research material sitting beside my desk. But, to date, there’s been little, if any, put to print which examines the intersection of arts and faith specifically with Canadian culture.
So what defines Canadian culture? Better minds a than mine (including Pierre Berton) have pondered that question for decades but I think there are two factors which have a considerable impact on our faith and our art:
First, in the words of the Arrogant Worms’ song, Canada is “really, really big.” At nearly 10 million square kilometers, we’re second only to Russia as the world’s largest country. And within that land mass are 31 million-plus people, most of whom live within 250 kilometres of the American border.
Second, because Canadians live in a multicultural, multi-faith, mosaic religion in general, and Christianity specifically, has been marginalized in Canadian society. As a result, we tend to be a bit more reserved in the way we express our faith. That doesn’t mean we’re reserved about our faith, only the way we express it as we bring the Christian perspective to the public square.
These two characteristics have created challenges for artists who are Christian (from this point on, unless specified, the term “artists” will refer to those who profess to be Christians and are creating their art from that perspective). At this point I won’t get into how we express our faith in the public square because that needs a broader discussion and will be examined in future posts.
However, the sheer logistics of getting art into the minds and hands of Canadians can be mind-boggling. Except for the corridor between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City, Quebec and the Lower Mainland in British Columbia, most provinces only have one or two large municipalities. While the Internet and social media are closing some of the gaps, getting artists and their art known across the country still takes time and money.
During my decade-long tenure as editor of ChristianWeek Ontario and my current stint as host of Faith FM’s Arts Connection, I’ve seen how artists have overcome these challenges.  Painters, sculptors, authors, actors, playwrights, photographers and musicians have created an almost tsumani-like movement. Just as a tsunami begins as an undersea movement of water, they’ve been quietly obedient to their call, toiling faithfully in obscurity. But as they’ve moved towards the intersection of faith and arts, the tsunami wave has slowly moved to the shore, will, within the next decade, hit Canadian society with a force never seen before.