Crossroads - reflections from a shattered mirror

Getting people to agree on a definition of art is like getting a dozen Toronto Maple Leafs fans to agree on why the team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967. For the record, I blame former owner Harold Ballard. But I digress.
The definition I prefer comes from Redeeming the Arts, a discussion paper prepared for the 2004 Forum of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization—which included John Franklin, executive director of Imago ( who can be heard in an interview here: The definition is:
“At the very least we want to say the making of art is a creative activity that calls for skill and imagination. Art at its best always invites us to see things in fresh ways and is able to move us to the truth about things.”
Three characteristics of art spring from that definition: art is creative, art calls for skill and art moves us to the truth. Future blogs will explore how the creativity and skill of individual artists move all of us toward both truth and the Truth.
But who are these artists? What exactly makes a person an artist?
Gary Molander (, author of the seminal Pursuing Christ, Creating Art, writes: “an artist is a heart condition, not a job” and “the artist who also fears God expresses arts’ truest purpose when she attempts to make the visible the invisible God.”
Hans Rookmaaker, one of the earliest academics to try to connect the dots between faith, art and culture, writes in Art Needs No Justification: “The artist is the one to create the poems, the songs, the images, the metaphors, the forms that one can both express what had been gained in insight, wisdom and direction, and pass them on to others in a positive and incisive way.”
The definition I cling to comes from J.R.R. Tolkein, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In the essay “On Faerie-stories,” he explored how and why he created his books:
“Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light through whom is splintered from a single White to many hues, and endlessly combined in living shapes that move from mind to mind. Though all the crannies of the world we filled with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build Gods and their houses out of dark and light, and sowed the seed of dragons, 'twas our right (used or misused). The right has not decayed. We make still by the law in which we're made.”

God is the Creator (we’ll look at that in a little more detail in the next blog post) but because we have been made in His image, we, too, are creators. But like looking into a mirror that’s been shattered, we reflect the beauty of the Divine Creator in a hundred, thousand, million different ways. We can’t create the mirror—that’s the right of the Creator. Instead, we are sub-creators, creating art from the images reflected/refracted from that broken, shattered mirror.