His name is John Brown. While his name is common, he is anything but. John is a gifted painter. He is an artist in the truest sense of the word. Because he is classically trained, I deeply value his opinion of artists and the role they play in today’s church.
I scheduled breakfast with him today to talk through the role art plays in society, the local church and leadership. There were several lessons he taught me which I will cover in future posts, but I was particularly moved by what is known as Plato’s Cave.
If you are unfamiliar with this parable (and I was) here is how John described it:
Plato’s Cave describes a group of people who have lived chained in a semicircle to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of the sun or a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. These shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. However, one of the prisoners turns around and looks at the object and then tells the other prisoners the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the other prisoners.
Those who turn around and interpret for others what is real are the artists.
The following are John’s additional thoughts which have significant meaning for church leaders:
God made creative people to express His world.
He made them hypersensitive (they turn around) to events others do not notice.
Satan uses this hypersensitivity because artists are more willing to accept things normal people would not. They will then create strange things like New Age. They also get into drugs and bizarre things more easily.
King David was an artist. As a shepherd, he saw God and things of this world in a way others did not and was moved by its beauty. He also looked at the wrong thing and was moved by its beauty.
Most creatives don’t understand how special they are because no one told them they were special at an early age.
Creatives are supposed to be used, but are treated like black sheep because they don’t fit the norm. As a result, “normals” make fun of them.
As an artist, you’re a nobody until somebody says, “That’s a great work of art.” Then you’re somebody.
Artists suffer a lot because of their hypersensitivity. God uses that suffering to create from it. Great art is an escape from the pain of their hypersensitivity.
I took a moment to speak with John about the most famous piece of art ever made, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.