The Creative Doug Giles

Part One

This is curious. Some of Doug Giles’s Townhall/Clash Radio “Clashpoints” are syndicated for the benefit of British fans (!) on a Charismatic Christian website called Cross Rhythms. However, his latest Townhall/Clash Radio piece, on “Christianity and the Arts” appears to be a bit different on the Cross Rhythms site.

For a start, there’s the title, and an opening quote. Here’s the Cross Rhythms version (in green):

Christianity and the Arts: Our Current Commitment to Kitsch

“Whenever Christians, and evangelicals in particular, have attempted to ‘reach the world’ through the media — film, publishing and so on — the thinking public gets the idea that, like soup in a bad restaurant, Christians’ brains are better left unstirred.” (Frank Schaeffer)”

Whereas the US version has just:

Christianity and the Arts

Wording has been changed here and there throughout, but a few alterations are more substantial.

UK:

Art itself needed no justification, and for 400 years killer art emerged from the Church.

US:

Art itself needed no rationalization, and for 500 years, brilliant art emerged from the Church.

Well, what’s a hundred years? Here are some more examples:

UK:

This incredible compilation of literary genius spanned the entire gamut of human emotions—highs, lows, lust, betrayal and sodomy. God created the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. If it were truly represented on celluloid, there is no question the film would be rated R, showcasing characters that make the bar scene in Star Wars look like a Young Republican staff meeting.

US:

This incredible assemblage of literary genius spans the entire gamut of human emotions—highs, lows, lust, love, loyalty, and betrayal, to name a few.  The scripture showcases the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.  If it were truly represented on film, there is no question the movie would be rated R, since the Bible is filled with characters that make a bar on South Beach look like a Young Republican staff meeting.

No sodomy in Townhall’s Bible, it seems. And I’m sure South Beach is just like Tattooine.

UK:

God dumped on us a lot of “useless beauty,” expressly for our enjoyment. And you know what – this freaks the altar call driven number crunching, pragmatic, utilitarian, no taste fundamentalist because it seems that such expenditure is a waste of time, space and energy.

US (ellipsis in original):

God dumped a lot of unnecessary splendor on us, expressly for our enjoyment.  And you know what…this freaks out the altar-call-driven, number-crunching, pragmatic, no-taste Church-goer because it seems that such expenditure is a waste of time, space and energy.

Nothing wrong with being a US fundamentalist, it seems.

Other “Clash Points” have been edited for Cross Rhythms, usually to remove cultural references that the average Brit would not understand. There also seems to be a question of Christian taste. From the Townhall version of “Barbarians R Us”:

Even though this “tissue” has a recognizable heart beat at six – 6! – weeks, and brain activity at ten – 10! – weeks: it’s not a human according to these wizards until it breaches the mother’s womb.   Hey, secularists, help us ignoramuses out would you?     If it’s not a human being, then what is it?  A Michael Jackson?

The UK version baulked at the Jackson reference.

Part Two

But there is something even stranger about the new column. The website of Kaleo Fellowship carries an article by their worship leader, Brian Thomas, called…er…”Christianity & the Arts“. It’s dated 1 December, 17 days before Giles’s piece. Here are some choice passages that are suggestive of Jungian synchronicity (in purple):

As British satirist, P.G. Wodehouse said [as quoted by Frank Schaeffer], “Whenever Christians, and evangelicals in particular, have attempted to ‘reach the world’ through the media – TV, film, publishing and so on – the thinking public gets the firm idea that, like soup in a bad restaurant, Christians’ brains are better left unstirred.”

Sounds familiar. Now, some direct comparisons:

(1) Thomas:

The support for the arts and man’s creativity comes very early in Scripture. In the book of Genesis you see the Master Artist creating ex nihilo (out of nothing). At the very onset of creation the prerequisites for art are established – light, space, and unity. God then created the details, calling forth earth, vegetation, water, and finally human beings…Humans were created in the image and likeness of God, who were themselves empowered to create.

Giles:

…The believer in the biblical account of creation also believes that he is an image-bearer of his Creator, that he, too, has creative juices coursing through his veins.  Thus, being veritable Mini-Me’s of Jehovah, we should be brimming over with creative, artistic life…Part of God’s personality is his ability to create, a capacity inherent in those who are his image-bearers

(2) Thomas:

…man’s creativity as God’s image-bearers have been relegated to the basement of Christian consciousness, often looked upon as a worldly pursuit. I believe this has been one of the major contributing factors leading to Christianity’s ineffectiveness upon our culture.

Giles:

The Church’s view of art as unspiritual, or even idolatrous, has created an aversion and an antagonism to art which has effectively alienated us from the world that God has made and the society he wants us to reach.

(3) Thomas:

The universe God created is not only functional; it is also beautiful…We have the ability not only to perceive beauty, but also to create and enjoy God through our creations.

Giles:

God dumped a lot of unnecessary splendor on us, expressly for our enjoyment.

(4) Thomas:

Some of the world’s greatest paintings, sculptures, architecture, and music have been inspired by the Christian faith.

Giles:

…Where is the mind-blowing stuff…y’know, the paintings, the sculpture, the architecture and the music that makes you drool your Slurpy down your shirt?

As well as the Wodehouse quote used by both, Franky Schaeffer’s book Addicted to Mediocrity (Franky is the son of Francis – click here for a sympathetic review) provides further unattributed inspiration for Giles. Here’s a section from Schaeffer (in tourquoise), followed by the Giles remix:

In looking at the diversity of the Scripture itself as well as its content and form, one can hardly imagine that the Bible has anything to do with the present narrow sloganeering aspects of evangelical Christianity. It seems to me that if it had been written along the lines of what much of evangelical Christianity represents today—it would be a three page pamphlet printed probably in words of one syllable,

Giles:

If it were up to some our anti-art religious leaders, the Bible wouldn’t need all that literary fluff at all.  We could put our deductions on a 4 x 6 postcard, devoid of art, narrative and design, with the Ten Commandments on the front and the address of where to send your tithe on the back.

Yes, Doug. Thank you for telling us about the importance of creativity. That’s “creativity”.

UPDATE (26 December): Today Doug turns motivational speaker and tells us about the “Pit Bull Attitude”, contrasting it with the “Poodle Attitude”. Here are some aspects of the former:

1. Do you have a definite purpose backed up by a burning desire to see it fulfilled?

2. Are you continuously in action working on your plan?

3. Is your mind closed towards all negative and discouraging influences from foes, “friends,” dysfunctional parents, music, books, tapes, T.V. etc?

4. Do you hang out with people who are greater than you in what they have accomplished and who utterly challenge you to excellence?

Now compare that with this piece by business motivator Ann Rusnak:

1. Have a definite purpose backed up with a strong desire to obtain it. Write it down. 2. Have a plan of action. How are you going to make it happen. What do you need to do. 3. Close your mind to negativity and discouraging influences. Self talk can be the most damaging. Watch which were saying to yourself. 4. Develop a group of people who will encourage you but also hold you accountable to follow through on your actions.

2 Responses

  1. […] It goes on, of course, but it’s a boring exercise…especially as I’ve looked at Giles’s ”borrowings” before. […]

  2. Doug Giles has never had an original thought go through his brain….I have to laugh….I was a long time member of his “church”….he used to tell the worship leaders….”get creative…be like Delirious”….WTH!!!! Are you fricking kidding me??? Get creative by copying a popular Christian rock band….

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