Following on from last week’s introduction to Pip Piper, today we continue our interview with the Birmingham based film maker, focusing on art, faith and church and how the three can combine.
What lessons have you learnt about living out the duality of being a Christian and being an artist?
The simple answer is, there is no duality.
I am not a Christian filmmaker nor am I a secular one.
I am a filmmaker period. I am also a follower of Jesus and that creates a life defining, distinct and deep DNA in who I am and how that outworks in what I do and say and engage with. Those two dynamics are intertwined and co-existent. There may at times be inner conflict but that is more the reality of the spiritual walk in this world rather than defined by being a creative, it’s just a reality in my opinion!
In many ways I think artists and creatives have been misunderstood at best and largely ignored and even ostracized by the church, particularly the evangelical segment. The focus on the rational and mechanics of faith have over time in certain quarters pushed creativity away from the mainstream Christian experience.
You also see creative people who have faith being “boxed” and defined by having to create within the context of a narrow world view on what is relevant “Christian” art and that is very damaging.
I believe that at His core, God is super creative, dynamic and diverse. Simply look at the world around you. In this created diversity is a multiplex of paradoxes and dynamics at work that can make us struggle, question and even doubt but ultimately if we commit to the quest, it is beautiful and life giving.
Our creativity should be no less.
Your relationship with church has been interesting through the last few years. Can you talk us through the journey you’re on with the local church?
Well, like many I began to question the reality of just what is core to faith and what is a manufactured and a culture based interpretation.
This was borne out of hurt, which I think is often the case and at the time can be very destructive. Yet in many ways I am very grateful for it, how it has shaped me and also looking back aware of my culpability in the reality of just what was happening. As a passionate and dare-to-take-risks youth pastor I was probably a little difficult to manage!
One of the areas I was struggling with was the focus on the church as a “machine” which I often feel it ends up being rather than the upside down world changing kingdom Jesus was ushering in.
The “machine” consumes all around into its shape and making rather than releasing and empowering its “people” to be partakers of the revolution that is Jesus.
I guess in that questioning I ended up on the margins and at times way outside of the mainstream Church. At times it was a very lonely and painful place. To be honest having to fend for myself outside of regular church attendance meant I had to find ways to journey with my faith and in that I found some very positive ways to connect with God and have an honest and open journey with Him.
I certainly went on a journey! And it continues, but in many ways I have come to a place of peace and self-awareness of what matters most in my faith walk. My wife and I currently attend Oasis church in Birmingham. I still struggle, but in Oasis I have found a very honest and transparent space. A church full of people, all aware of their own struggles, and helping one another to find the most positive way forward.
Thanks again Pip. Next time, we’ll find out what Pip is up to at the moment and how we can get involved, but for now, check out the trailer for Blue Hippo Media’s ‘Last Shop Standing’, which Pip directed (and which you can purchase here)