In the last fortnight, a number of high profile artists have passed — Archie Roach, First Nations musician and advocate, Nichelle Nichols, famous for acting the part of Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, Judith Durham of the Seekers and most recently, actor, singer and cancer research advocate Olivia Newton-John.
I found myself wondering, do the deaths of these pop-cultural icons warrant any thought or comment by a Christian Church? In the case of the Uniting Church at least, I believe so.
Paragraph 11 of the UCA’s Basis of Union makes the following fascinating statement: “the Uniting Church also stands in relation to contemporary societies in ways which will help it to understand its own nature and mission.”
This openness to learning of our own nature and mission through relationship with contemporary society is also coherent with the theological understanding that God is at mission in the world, revealing Godself in a multiplicity of ways and forms not limited to the work of the Church, nor contained within the walls of the Church.
So to the extent that beautiful music, thought-provoking TV shows, joyful musicals, poetry, painting and all the wonderful, exuberant, challenging and confronting arts raise our hearts and minds to things that are true, honourable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise (cf. Phil. 4:8), these human artifacts and their human creators should be celebrated, remembered, and at their passing mourned.
I am greatly inspired by poet and performer Joel McKerrow’s ode to the artist, “Welcome Home” and I invite you to watch it!