The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Reading this article in Books & Culture about the musician Sufjan Stevens has me thinking. Is it wrong for an artist to hide his faith?
As critical acclaim has mounted, though, he's become much more evasive when questioned about his faith. He routinely brushes aside the matter of his personal beliefs, strategically separating himself from the weird world of contemporary Christian music. He has a "knee-jerk reaction to that kind of [Christian] culture," he quipped in one interview. "Maybe I'm a little more empathetic … because we have similar fundamental beliefs. But culturally and aesthetically, some of it is really embarrassing." More bluntly, he has said, "I don't make faith-themed music."
This approach reminded me of a group of underground Protestants during the Reformation who were often called Nicodemites:
The term "Nicodemites" was applied to pseudo-Protestants who hid their convictions by attending the Mass and other Romish ordinances of worship. These secret Protestants lived in popish lands, and feared that an open declaration of their faith would bring persecution, or result in a loss of their possessions and social status. Some had appealed to the example of Nicodemus (who came to Jesus by night), as a pretext for keeping their views secret, even to the point of pretending to be Romanists in their outward deportment. Calvin rebuked the Nicodemites, by showing that the scriptures require believers to remain undefiled by idolatry (such as the popish Mass).
What do you think of Steven's approach? Should he be more up front about his faith? Or is better to pull those outside the covenant community in to hear what what have to say?