Marrying Theology and Creativity: Some thoughts from Thomas Terry (Humble Beast)

Many of you will have heard of Humble Beast. It is an American (mainly) hiphop label, notable for two main things. All their releases are free and they are Christians. They also tend to be very good (to get you going, I’d start with Beautiful Eulogy’s Satellite Kite and Propaganda’s Crimson Cord).

They also just put on an arts conference, the Canvas Conference, in partnership with Western seminary, a theological college based in Portland, Oregon. That last sentence should give you a flavour of how the Humble Beast heart beats- they’re all about marrying creativity and theology and I stumbled across a video of the founder of the label, Thomas Terry, explaining this vision in a clear and concise fashion (the first 5 minutes should do it).

Now, I’ll put my cards on the table here. I love most things about Humble Beast, but I do find it a bit infuriating that their output seems directed firmly towards a Christian audience in a way that means that people who aren’t Christians are unlikely to clock it at all. I have been blessed by these guys. Loads of other Christians I know have been blessed by these guys. Seriously though it’s not the Christians of the western world who are short of soul food, how about sharing the wealth a bit 😉

Anyway, that gripe aside, I love the vision Thomas Terry lays out in this video. For artists of any discipline who have never got on with theology, or for theologians who don’t understand art, or just for anyone who wants to hear a clear Christian framework for the arts laid out, this is well worth a watch.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Huw Evans says:

    ‘Framework,’ the man said. ‘Isn’t that restrictive?’
    ‘You need a framework to build upon.’
    A good point. If you take out my framework I’m just a mess of flesh on the floor. It’s my framework that gets me breathing, walking, typing.
    Do we think of theology as a framework, or does it end up being treated as a fence and a boundary marker?

  2. I’ve personally always found frameworks helpful stylistically. For example, the rules and restrictions of poetic forms often help me to write meaningfully as, by limiting my possibilities, they allow me to narrow down what I can write next.
    I have never experienced what it’s like to create without a framework of thought, such as Christian theology, but I’ve experienced many pieces of art made by people who seem to lack a well defined paradigm, and often it shows in shallow ideas and a recycling of fads and trends.

    For me, Christian theology is such a paradigm, a way of seeing the world. Everyone has a pair of glasses like this, it’s just that some don’t realise it. Understanding what my paradigm is then, at the very least, helps me to approach the world and my work in a coherent manner.

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