But we tend to have a theology of utility, not a theology of beauty, because we don't think of beauty, as this high order like truth and goodness.
As Christians, our mission is to spread the gospel around the world to all the nations. But our mission also includes to transform the nations to increasingly reflect the truth, goodness and beauty of God's kingdom. Tragically, the church has largely neglected the second part of her mission and today, Christians have little influence on their surrounding cultures. Join us on this podcast as we rediscover what it means for each of us to disciple the nations and to create Christ honoring cultures that reflect the character of the living God.
Well, welcome again to another episode of Ideas Have Consequences. This is the podcast of the Disciple Aations Alliance. I'm Scott Allen, president of the DNA. And today I'm with friends and coworkers, Dwight Vogt, Luke Allen, Tim Williams, and he's not a special guest, because he's a regular on this podcast, Darrow Miller. Darrow, you're gonna be in the hot seat today, it's great that that we have a chance to talk to you in a very focused way about something that we're really excited to announce. Darrow's got a new book that's going to be released imminently, very shortly. And the title of the book is "A Call for Balladeers, Pursuing Art and Beauty for the Discipling of Nations." I love that.
No, it's very exciting. So, Darrow, as a guy who's known us for many years, this has been something that you've been passionate about, for as long as I've known you, for years, decades, and something you've spoken on, are passionate about. And so today, kind of what we'd like to do is just hear about the book and your heart for it. What it is, why people should be interested in the subject, especially people that care about discipling nations. And, yeah, so let's get into it. Guys. Is that sound good? I think, Darrow, I would just like to start with the standard basic question, which is a good question, which is why did you write the book?
Well, that gets to my heart, and the heart of a lot of people. As I've had the privilege of traveling around the world for many years, speaking to pastors speaking in churches, speaking with YWAM, and with other youth globally, one of the things that I teach about is discipling nations, and the relationship between worldview and discipling nations. And when I teach on this, I talk about the realm of ideas, and how ideas begin, typically, in universities, with philosophers and with people who love wrestling with ideas. From there, they go to the artists who have, I used to say, very large antennas coming out of their heads that would pick up the new ideas. Now it's more of satellite dishes coming out of their heads, where they hear the new ideas that are coming. And they begin to write songs and develop films. They do poetry, they paint, they dance. They turn the ideas into an art form. And then they spread these ideas to the to the culture as a whole, through their art. And it's at that point where the professional class take those ideas and create laws, they create institutions, they create objects to sell based on those ideas. And finally, the ideas get down to the common person, the average person. So there's a flow of ideas from where they originate to how we live our lives.
And I just want to interrupt because you're talking about something that I think is so profound and important for our listeners to understand. This is the process by which nations are discipled.
It's the process by which nations are disciples.
And it's something that I think Christians in earlier times understood, but that we have forgotten.
We have forgotten.
Yeah. And, and the artists plays such a key role in that. You're right, so many of the new ideas that govern our society, like today I'm thinking, for example of, you know, we hear a lot about critical race theory. These are now in the mainstream, but they started with philosophers and academics. You know, going back 150 years, places like Germany and France, postmodern philosophers, but then they were picked up by artists.
And artists, they tend to be sensitive to the new ideas, and what do they do with them? They use their art form, to speak these ideas into society. And they end up creating culture.
They do in such a powerful way. Because it's not—when you're dealing with the academics, it's very heady. But when it comes to the artists, and let's say they write a novel, or they make a film, you bypass in some ways the head and you touch the heart. You don't even know that you're being discipled at that point.
But it is touching the heart. And eventually the heart is influencing the mind. So it affects the whole human being. Yes. But the reason the arts are so powerful is they speak at the gut level, at the heart level. And when I would teach these things, I could almost see—not almost see, I could see in the audience, who were the artists, by the look on their face. Because they'd never heard anyone say anything like this before.
Exactly, Darrow. Just last week, I had a conversation with a friend who, you know, lovely guy, but we were talking about the mission of the church. And he said, you know, the mission of the church really can be boiled down to a few basic things, and you have to prioritize, because you can't do everything. And, you know, we have to prioritize evangelism and planting churches, and discipling people in the basic biblical teaching. And of course, we hear that all the time. And you know, I'm like, yes, that's true. But I challenged him. And I said, the problem when you narrow it down that way, is, let's say you are an artist, let's say you're somebody who is in business, or whatever it is that you don't see yourself primarily as an evangelist, or as a church planter, you all of a sudden feel like you have no role in the mission of the church. And that's being reinforced.
It's been reinforced. And that's one of the reasons as I talk on these things that young artists engage with me. They are lonely people very often. They love doing art. They believe that God has gifted them in the arts. But the only place they're justified within the church is if they're doing participating in an evangelistic event, or they're involved with worship on Sunday morning, right?
Very narrow. And I talked to a man the other day who came to Christ as a young man, and he was an artist, a dancer, in fact, very excited, in coming to Christ, and he thought, "I better start getting involved in a church." So we went to a church, he met, the pastor wanted to talk to the pastor. The pastor said to him know, "What do you do?" And he said, "I'm a dancer. I teach dance." And the pastor said, "Well, now that you're a Christian, what are you going to do?" And this just deflated this young man. Because there's no place, as it were, in the church for the arts unless they're connected to something spiritual, like evangelism or worship.
So I can't tell you how many young Christian artists I've met, and I've wept with over the years, who have felt this from the church. And then they go outside the church to try and do their art and outside the church, people say, "Well, you're a Christian, what are you doing out here?" And so where's their place? Where's their space? And when you meet enough young Christians who have a heart for the arts, and they don't find a place in the world, and they don't find a place in the church, there's not a space for them, and that broke my heart. And at the same time, as you mentioned, Scott, the Great Commission is nothing less than to disciple nations. And if the church doesn't disciple the nations, the nation's will disciple the church, and we see this in spades around the world today. And one of the greatest resources for discipling nations is the arts. And yet, the church doesn't recognize that. And artists who have the gifts don't recognize it. And so the whole concept of the book was to help. At first, the narrow focus is young Christians who have a heart for the arts. Where do I fit?
And to see the power of the gift that God's given them for the discipling of nations, you know, you could give so many examples. I think one I'm just thinking about now, because I've got young adults in my home. There's a whole genre of art, you know, of novels for young adults. It's a multibillion dollar industry. And who dominates that industry in the West? It's definitely not Christians. It's people who are pushing very secular, very hedonistic, often very Marxist agendas, and openly doing so. In other words, they know what they're doing. They actually have a vision, to disciple the nation, if you will, to influence the culture to change the culture through their novels through these young people.
Or through their music or through their art or their poetry.
Right. So Christians are not dominating that industry, nor would they be supported. I think leaders of the church would go, what are you doing here? They wouldn't see the value of even doing that.
No and they would have this mindset, if you're going to do art, it has to be religious art or spiritual art.
For Christians in the church.
For Christian in the church, right.
And the same with youth novels. Christian youth novels.
Christian youth novels, with evangelical-ise, Christian words.
But not not written for people in the culture, not written for just your average person in the culture to begin to shape and to better the way that they think. And their heart, to open their heart out, maybe that's more important to the truths of of the kingdom of God.
And that's where this book... Do we need Christians involved in worship on Sunday morning? Well, of course we do.
Yes. And that's very important, very important.
Is there a place for arts in evangelism? Yes. But what I'm talking about when I talk about a Balladeer is speaking prophetically to the culture. That is a space that we do not understand.
Well then explain it Darrow, help us understand what you mean.
How do we speak, in a sense, the culture of the kingdom. The kingdom of God has a culture, a way of doing things, a way of seeing things, a system of virtues. God is true. God is good. God is beautiful. And these things are reflective of the culture of the kingdom of God.
I just got a pause. Hold your thought, Derrow, because I just think it's important interject here. This idea that the kingdom of God is a culture, has a culture, I think is a new thought for a lot of Christians, because they think of Christianity and they don't think of it in that way. They think of it as a message of salvation. A creed or a message of salvation. They don't think of it as a culture. When you think about it as a culture, it starts changing things.
Exactly. Yeah. And this is so much about what the DNA has been about over the years is to disciple at the level of culture, to realize that there are things called worldviews and those things—you grew up in a culture, you learn the language of the culture, you learn the worldview of that culture, and that's the water you swim in or the air that you breathe, and we don't look at it, we don't think about it. And there is a culture of the kingdom of God and we do not think in those terms and part of the reason and we've had this discussion on this podcast before is the sacred/secular divide. We are interested in spiritual things. And that's why art, if we're Christians and we're involved in the arts, it has to be put in this—the paintings we do, the movies we do, they have to be religious and spiritual.
And kind of for the church, for the Christians.
And yet, the task given by Christ to the church is to disciple nations. That means to disciple at the level of culture, it means thy kingdom come, thy will be done, where? On earth. On earth as it is in heaven. We're waiting for Christ to come back so we can go to heaven. Christ wants something of his kingdom to come to Earth. This is where we understand the role of the church and disciple the nations and the artists have an incredible role to play in that. But if the church doesn't understand the concept of discipling, nations, they don't understand the importance of truth, beauty, and goodness, as culture manifested from the kingdom of God. That space doesn't exist.
I'm hearing people now going, so you're going to impose your—we're going into another topic, I'm sorry, but I gotta touch this—we're going into another culture, and you're gonna now impose a culture on somebody. And I think we need to understand, we talked the kingdom of God, it's not replacing Hispanic culture, it's not replacing Thai culture. It's a superculture, that, that lays on top of what our basic interests are, and how we function our languages, but it's a superculture, and it's real. So when I'm thinking disciple nations, I'm thinking this superculture of the kingdom of God that fits every culture in the world, because it carries these virtues and common thing.
And each culture is enhanced by design. Its rich potential is so drawn out by the kingdom of God.
Yeah, I think, Dwight, what clarifies that for me is to make it personal. And when I become a Christian, I don't cease to be Scott Allen with a unique personality. But what I am as Scott Allen with the unique personality and gifts, is enhanced. It becomes what it was intended to be. And it's the same with cultures, when cultures are influenced and adopt the culture of the kingdom, they become what God intended them to be, the beauty of the culture is enhanced.
And when God gives a person gifts, natural talents, natural abilities, they are, whether they're Christians or not, to develop those abilities. And when they come to Christ, those things aren't to stop. They are to be enhanced. They are to be more expressive. And this is where with the arts, we shouldn't have a narrow box to put artists in that's just the religious box or a spiritual box. In coming to Christ, and understanding who God is and the nature of the kingdom of God, here is where life flourishes.
Well, I'd like to bring Tim and Luke into the conversation and it's easy—
Buy the book.
Yeah, by the way, the title of that book is "A Call for Balladeers, Pursuing Art and Beauty for the Discipling of Nations." We will tell you shortly—it's not out yet, it's coming out. There is a website, maybe Tim, you could start with a website that people could go to to learn more about the book and sign up on that web page. And we will notify you when that book is released and how you can access that, how you can get it. So that would be a good place to start, then maybe Tim for you. Although you can jump in anywhere you'd like.
Sure. Yeah, that's acallforballadeers.com. So acallforballadeers.com. We're going to have information updated regularly, including some events coming up where artists can interact with Darrow, and also we can share some testimonies about how artists are actively, prophetically influencing and bringing transformation within their culture. So this is a place not just for artists, but for everyone who cares about the church and the mission of the church and the kingdom of God. So encourage everybody to come and check it out. I've enjoyed working with Darrow on this book project and enjoyed listening to you all already, in your discussion.
As you talked about beauty, I couldn't help but think about one of the sections at the end of the book, that is one of my favorite sections, it's hard to boil it down to, you know, any one section being my favorite over the other. But this idea of evangelism through beauty has been so significant to me. AndI just kind of want to take a second to say it's not—we have to do evangelism for art to be worthy of anything. But it's almost like we talk so much about the relativism of our current culture. And if you start with truth discussions with people, they say, who decides what is true? You know, how do you come up with this truth? And if you start with morality, that can quickly turn into, you're saying what I'm doing is not good. And I don't like that and it just shuts down these conversations. But there is an element of beauty—God is beautiful—and there's an element that people cannot deny. When they engage beauty, it impacts them to their core, their guards are removed, and they want to just continue to engage with that. And so, Darrow, and in one unit, talks a little bit about that. Derrow, do you want to just say some words about that, before I just read the whole section off?
Well, I think that is in the third section of the book on the Beauty and Balladeers. There's three sections to the book. And this is the one, the section you're talking about. And we mentioned a few minutes ago about the culture of the kingdom being truth, beauty, and goodness. And we can talk about these separately, but they're like the Trinity. In fact, I call them the culture of the kingdom is a Trinitarian culture. In the Trinity, you have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Individuals, unique, different roles, different functions within the Godhead, but they are equally God. This is the Trinitarian concept. Truth, beauty and goodness are similar to this. We can talk about them separately, but we can never separate them.
That's just such a great point Darrow. Think about it this way, goodness, take goodness of those three, goodness is beautiful.
You know, the opposite of goodness is evil. Right? And evil is never beautiful. You know, it helps us understand beauty, actually.
No, it does, it helps us understand beauty. And evil is hideous. And hideous is the bringing together of the aesthetic, as it were, and the the moral. And evil is hideous, it's repulsive. And you bring together truth and beauty. And it's the opposite of that. And this is what God intended for us. It's who he is and what he intended for us. I read a book a few years ago called "The Evidential Power of Beauty." And those of you that are interested in the concept of beauty, or interested in the arts, I would say it's a fundamental book to read. And there's a couple chapters in the book, the book is by Thomas Dubay,"The Evidential Power of Beauty", and in this book, he has a couple of chapters where he is quoting physicists, mathematicians, scientists, and these are people that are working, spending a lifetime working on a particular problem they're trying to solve. And time after time, these scientists, when they get close goes to the solving of the problem, they see beauty. And when they see beauty, they know they're very close to truth.
What are they seeing, Darrow, that's beautiful. I'm just wanting to understand better.
In this case they're seeing a harmony. Truth is comprehensive. It's all encompassing on one hand, and it's very simple on the other. And they're coming to that point of seeing the relationship between different things coming together at a focal point. And it is beautiful.
Yeah, I think of going back to—I don't want to get too heady here—but going back to Genesis and the creation, Genesis, chapter one, there was chaos. And then God spoke, and he brought order into the chaos.
Order into the chaos. Light into the darkness.
And that was beautiful. And so when science sees that order, it's beautiful,
It's beautiful, and they recognize it because it is beautiful. It's got God's fingerprints. It's glorious. And that's what they're recognizing. And people who are not mathematicians and physicists and astronomers, we can sit on the beach and watch a sunset, and be captivated by its beauty. We can hike in the mountains and see the incredible beauty. We can discover a flower and be marveled at its beauty. And it is conveyed something that is good, and is true to us. And it's part of the reason I think we stand in awe.
So you have the culture of the kingdom, truth, beauty, and goodness. And in a postmodern era, where there is no truth, and morals, at best, are relative, and you may not even talk about a moral framework at all, when you talk to people, if you lead with morality, or lead with truth, it's as Tim said—"You trying to put me in a box?" But if you lead with beauty, someone said, in fact, I wish I remembered her name. I think it's Luv, but I'm not sure, L-U-V. I think she is an art historian and a travel guide, a tourist guide in Rome. She's an American, but she lives in Rome, raised her family in Rome. And she's the one that says that beauty is the gateway to truth and goodness. And so it's the place where people inherently inside of them recognize when they see something beautiful.
Yeah. I heard recently a person share their testimony. This gets to your point, Tim, of visiting Oxford University at sunset and you know, I've been to Oxford, I've seen the the magnificent architecture. It's stunning. It's breathtaking. And the gardens and just everything about it is breathtaking. And that was kind of his testimony as well, that he was a skeptic. You couldn't have had a very fruitful discussion with him about truth or morality, but it was Oxford. It was that beauty that drew him to Christ. It's preevangelism, isn't it, Tim? I want to be careful here because
Why do you use the word "pre?"
Well because, people do need to be told about Jesus, we do need to verbalize the gospel. I think that's important.
The truth about beauty is... there's nothing...
You just want to pick on me.
No, but I go back to the cultural Trinity that Darrow unpacks in this book and yeah, when you remove—let's take God for example. Let's say you know, when I think of God, I think God the Father, sovereign, powerful, omnipotent, a little bit distant, a little scary, very scary. I think of Jesus, eminent, here, incarnate, Emmanuel, God with us, sacrifice, forgiving, loving. And then the Spirit is immediate, present, powerful, inside. Which one do you want to get rid of? Which one do you want to divorce from? And yet we'll divorce beauty? I'm sorry, I'm pushing back because I'm a Mennonite traditionalist and we went to churches where if you put up stained glass, you were wasting money.
We're working hard to heal Dwight from this. Well, if you're a Mennonite out there listening, I'm sorry, we love Mennonites.
But we divorce beauty a times from from that this truth and goodness.
That's an excellent point. No, it's a fantastic point.
And this is why I said earlier. It's a Trinitarian culture. You can talk about them separately, but you can't divorce them.
Exactly. They're distinct things
But they define each other.
But they define each other. That's a great way of saying it.
They illuminate each other.
It's really powerful.
So as you see beauty, it illuminates truth, it illuminates goodness. Darrow you mentioned in your book from Father Barron, and he does a video evangelizing through beauty. And he quotes the 20th century theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and he says, the beautiful seizes you. It changes you. And then it calls you and sends you. So it beauty impacts you. As you were talking just a moment ago, Darrow about all of the different things that people see, you know, the sunset, the flower, the different things that God creates. We have a Creator God, who created things, incredibly beautiful. And he created us in His image to be creators of beauty. And this is where the church has to begin commissioning artists, in just empowering them because our evangelism, Dwight, as you're saying, like we don't want to divorce beauty, like we want it to be part of the cultural Trinity, it's got to be part of it. We all have a role to play, in this reaching this generation and making a difference. And it's not only in evangelism, because we know also, as believers, we need that sanctification, and we need to understand culture.
Well, the Great Commission is to disciple nations. And that is lead people to Christ, yes. But is that the end of the Great Commission? No, it's only the beginning of the Great Commission. The end of the Great Commission, is the discipling of nations in the coming of the Kingdom of God. And that will in its fullness occur when Christ returns. And that's our task. And that's why we need to think more broadly. What does this mean for all Christians, but particularly in this book? What does it mean for artists?
We've been saying it here, but I just think it's worth underscoring the power of beauty and art is that they communicate at a different level. They don't bypass the brain, but they really do touch the heart and there's something that's so incredibly powerful about that. It can even be subversive, I don't know if that's the right word, in the sense that—we love to watch, just like so many people today, we love to watch films, and movies, and videos, and whatnot. And those stories, they can kind of touch you and shape you in a way that bypasses your brain, right? You just begin to think and are shaped by the art that you consume in a way. So that's what I'm using the word subversive.
And then if it's compelling to you, you become a little evangelist for it. You go out and tell everybody you know, I saw this great movie. You gotta go see this movie.
I'm gonna interject the thought here too, because I'm thinking of beauty in the church and beauty and worship. And I do think that I see that as beautiful and I experienced that as beautiful. And here's my point. The themes are always perfectly focused on Jesus and His grace and His goodness and His forgiveness, which has been a salvation. And so the the artists, the Christian artists have said, this is important to magnify, so how can we express it in a million different ways. And there's a lot that's done and I love worship times at church. And then I'm thinking, I was driving home yesterday, and I was listening to 60s music. And Brandy came on—or 70s music—you guys probably don't remember the song Brandy. Brandy or Mandy, bartender, and she works in a harbor town selling whiskey and laying it down.
I remember that song Dwight, but I'm telling you, it's probably just a very narrow subset of us that remember,
I'm sorry, I'm dating myself. It wasn't, but it's such a catchy tune, and the guy leaves her and he won't marry her. Nobody will marry her because she's in love with this sailor, whose real wife is the sea. And so he's married to the sea first. And so she's just a lonely barmaid that will never get married. And it's just touching. And I was listening to the songs for the first time, because I'm thinking of discipling nations and Darrow Miller and all this, you know? And I'm going, what is this telling me? And I'm thinking, basically, it's saying men pursue your goals and that's all there is. And I'm thinking, No, there's a woman here that wants to grow a family, that wants to have a household, which is God's design for people. It's right there in the first chapter of Genesis. But he's saying no men, and this is the 60s And sure enough, guys are now following that out. Brandy discipled the nation.
Yeah, that's the subversive conversation we're talking about, he didn't get up and give a lecture on how to do that. He just wrote a song and all of a sudden, people are starting to think that way.
To be a free man is to love the sea. That's the power of art, though, and not marriage and family. And so when I'm thinking of discipling culture, it's these kinds of ideas that are that are very cultural. It's not just what we hear on Sunday morning.
So Darrow, you gave in your book, a few examples of Balladeers throughout history and their powerful influence on their culture. You mentioned Luther, Wesley, the Wesleys, Josiah Wedgwood, maybe you'd like to tell us a little bit about one of those from kind of a historical perspective and their influence.
Well, the one that probably most of us have heard of is Luther. And Luther was a balladeer. In fact, he was called by church historians, a balladeer, because he wrote songs, and the songs that he wrote, conveyed truth that spoke to people's hearts.
[Singing] Mighty fortress is our God.
And some of these hymns are still some of the richest hymns of the church today. But it was often said that these songs and very often they were ballroom songs, tunes coming out of the bar, and the ale houses. They would reach cities before Luther got there. And very often, he'd get to a city and find that it had been converted through the songs that he wrote.
People were singing those songs.
They were singing those songs. They were beginning to internalize those songs, the messages of the songs. And I think all of us, we here in this room, those listening to the podcast, you can probably off the top of your head come up with several songs that the first time you heard them, after you heard them, you were singing them, humming them, whistling them.
They stick with me. I can remember lyrics of songs in a way I can't remember people's names.
It's true. And that's what the arts do.
But Luther spoke theology. That's what's so profound. That's why he converted towns, but he spoke theology through his music.
Yeah. And this is part—when I said earlier that Balladeers so to speak prophetically to culture, they're supposed to speak truth to culture. They're to speak the truth. And that is not always an easy thing to do. Because when you speak truth in a culture, very often people will react hostile-ly to you and you can be driven out of town. Jesus was driven out of town. Luther was driven out of town. And we are to speak truth, we are to critique culture in that way. And for some of you this will be a foreign concept, or you'll say, What do you mean critique culture? Because we are taught in sociology and anthropology, that you can't critique culture. Well, I can tell you having worked in development for 40 years traveling all over the world, one of the greatest causes of poverty in the world is a lie. And that is that men are superior to women. That is a lie that is embedded in cultures all over the world. And if you don't speak truth to that lie, you are essentially affirming the lie. And women will be crushed, they'll be brutalized, they'll be sold into slavery, they'll be treated as objects, as they are all over the world.
We say this, you're not supposed to critique culture, this kind of postmodern cultural relativistic idea, we say it. But hardly anyone can really function in that way. I think of the Nuremberg trials after World War Two and the Nazis that were on trial, tried that. They said, "You don't really have a place to judge us for what we've done. This is just what we did in our culture." And we all said, we being the free world that was putting them on trial for their war crime said, "No, you cannot make that argument. What you did was wrong, objectively." How many of us are willing to side with the Nazis in that argument? That's my point here.
And I think the challenge you're presenting it is, how do you do that in art? You know, because I'm right now I'm searching. What do I see in art? What do I see in ballads? What do I see in music? That's critiquing culture?
And that's the point, because we don't see it. But culture is being built through the arts today. But the culture that's been built is a post modern culture. One of the things when I've lectured on this, and this shows my age, and those of you listening who are younger, I show a video clip of Madonna and Britney Spears, singing. This was about 15 years ago, and they were on MTV. 10s of millions of young people around the world watched this concert. And at the end of the song, they did a French kiss. Was that planned? Most certainly, it was planned. They had a message. And the song was conveying that message. And millions of young people at the time heard that message, they saw the message, they heard the message. They internalize the message. And now what do we see happening around the world today? Concepts of sexuality are changing. Concepts of family are changing. Policies related to to family are changing. And that was from a concert.
That's filtered down as you were going back to your earlier illustration.
Down from the artists, to the policy.
Laws, and the policies, and the curriculum and all of this and now to the common person.
Now of the common person. And we're seeing that today. And where are the Christian artists who have been granted a space, who have realized there is a space for them, and the church has granted them that space, they've honored that space and said yes, here is the space? It's not the sacred/secular space. It's this huge space. And you have a role in discipling nations. You have a role in bringing the culture of the kingdom of God to your nation.
And this is what you mean by balladeer right there. I want to talk about that word just for a second because I think If I correct that's when you say balladeer, "A Call for Balladeers," you're talking about that very thing right?
Narrowly yes, about that. Now, can people be artists and do beautiful paintings? Yes. And write beautiful symphonies? Yes. Create a beautiful garden? Yes. But I'm talking about someone who is consciously thinking about speaking through their art form prophetically to the culture it in a way that will change the culture. So that's not saying, not this exclusively, but not I'm not talking about this, I'm talking about bringing your art form to bear in a way that will speak truth, beauty, and goodness into your culture. And when you do that, at times is going to critique lies.
So where are the balladeers speaking of the dignity of women? Where are the balladeers, who—I mean, we taught we hear songs all the time about the degrading of women, and they're very popular and the people that write those songs and sing those songs become millionaires. Where are the people who understand that women are made in the very image of God? Where are the people that understand that a woman is like God in that she not only bears his image, but she is a life giver? She's a life giver. Wow. A woman can conceive in her womb and bring forth a life that has never existed before and will exist for eternity. Wow. Where are the balladeers to sing about that?
So Darrow I think this is a helpful because, you know, there are a number of Christians who are involved in the arts. And there's even networks and organizations, you know, so that they can support one another. But we've got something, a message here through your book that's kind of specific. It's got a specific purpose. And it's the role of Christian artists in discipling, nations consciously. Darrow, just a question for you. Why did you choose the word balladeer? Because when I think of that word, balladeer, it takes me back to the Middle Ages, actually, in courts, some like storyteller in a king's court or something like that. I'm not quite sure. But how did you choose this word balladeers?
Precisely because that was the case. They would be musicians who would tell ballads, they would tell stories through their music, and they would go from place to place singing ballads, stories. And that's what we're talking about here. A filmmaker
A morality tale.
Yeah, it's your morality tale, Scott.
Or even I'm thinking of the jester who had this really important role actually of saying the powerful truths into the culture, but they had to do it in a kind of joking way or they'd get their head chopped off. You know what I'm saying but they played an important role of kind of critiquing the king or the kingdom.
And the king has no clothes. Who's going to say that?
The jester is going to say that.
The Babylon bee is going to say that.
That's right. No, that's exactly the role that the Babylon Bee is playing in our culture right now.
They are balladeers, through, what would you call them? News? Satire?
No, it's so powerful. They're their audience isn't the church either. It's just an interesting example, I think.
Yeah, no, that's that's the point.
I'm gonna push back on you, Darrow, because I've read most of the book and read articles before that. And I read the book and I don't see myself as a balladeer. But I do see in that last section, the three sections he talked about so many gems that enhance my understanding of beauty, and the connection to goodness and truth. And so, you know, I say, well, I can speak truth, but I can't do it as a balladeer. I said, but maybe I can pull in beauty in some way that it's connected to what I can say as truthful. But I can't sing it. I can't storytell it. I can't do it. Every audience can read the book. I'm increasing your sales.
One thing I thought about, Dwight, in response to what you're talking about is just, I mean—maybe this is a stretch, you guys can say, if it's a stretch—but hospitality is beautiful, and I think hospitality opens people. I mean, before we started the podcast you were talking about working on your yard and making your yard beautiful. As Father Barron talks about somebody coming into a home and being brought into this family, and over a period of time, how the beauty that they see in this home, in this family, over time, it changes them to where they want to be a participant in what is beautiful, so.
Could we say that all of us are to create spaces of beauty. Whether it's with an art form, or it's a beautiful garden, or its hospitality, that we are about the creation of spaces of beauty. I remember years ago, when I was in my early 20s, my wife and I went to the Soviet Union. And we grew up in the States and then we lived in Europe. And Europe was stunningly beautiful. And then we went to the Soviet Union. And it was drab, all the buildings were made out of concrete block. There was no color. If you'd go in the buildings, they were dark and dingy.
Very utilitarian, very dysfunctional.
Very utilitarian. And that came from a worldview. The worldview was manifested in the architecture. And in the places where people lived, it was manifested. And this is what we're talking about ideas have consequences. And God is beautiful. Beauty, in fact, is objective. And I think some of you listening to this will say, "What do you mean, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder?" This is another discussion. But God is beautiful. And his character, his glory, is the objective standard of beauty. And again, we can talk about this more at some other point. But how do we manifest that beauty in our lives, in our homes, in the places that we work? This isn't specifically the artists speaking prophetically to a culture, but it is the average Christian recognizing that God is beautiful, and seeking a place or places within their lives, to create those beautiful spaces.
I love what you're saying, Darrow. Because it can be as simple as you know, when there's trash on my street, I'm going to pick it up and throw it away. You know, you don't think of that as an act of art. But it's that simple. It's what can I do to create beauty? And if it's moving in the opposite direction, there's trash and filth, and, as far as I can do something about it. I'm not gonna allow that.
Yeah. And we understand this—sorry—we understand this so well as Christians when we are talking about the other two corners of the cultural Trinit. When it's truth, as Christians we know it is our is our job to speak truth. As Christians, it's our job to promote goodness to be good and kind. But then there's beauty. That's also just as much our calling and our role, to promote beauty. So like, Tim, you were saying a minute ago. I think we are all called to be balladeers in different ways. Some balladeers are going to promote beauty in a much clearer format. Luther with his hymns, Someone writing a movie. There's a lot of truth you can include in that. Whereas someone who's landscaping their yard, it's not going to be as clear but you're still promoting beauty.
Yeah, that's a great point, Luke.
Yeah. Let me come to that and piggyback on what you and Scott has said. Picking up trash is a rebellious act. It's rebelling against throwing stuff, discarding stuff everywhere. And you can see where a culture has promoted beauty, part of what they've promoted is cleanliness. And if you don't care about beauty, you don't care about cleanliness, you just throw stuff wherever. So picking up trash is a rebellious act against a culture that does not care for beauty.
I think something else that we ran by a few minutes ago that I want to point out, we've talked about the sacred/secular divide. We need to see a theology of beauty. And I think of the Roman Catholic Church has a theology of beauty. And they tend to exhibit that beauty in ways that Protestant and charismatic churches do not. And I know there's people here that are going to be offended by both things that I've said. But we tend to have a theology of utility, not a theology of beauty. And how does that manifest? Look at when we build our buildings. We want them very often to be utilitarian. We want them to get the most bang for the buck in terms of floor space, say. Are we building into the design of the building, into the decor of the building, aspects of beauty? Or is it just—
We need certain number of lights and some speakers and these things that we need.
Its utility. And it could be a metal warehouse building that we decorate on the inside with sheetrock and paint. But where's the thought of, we want to build our place that we come to worship, in a way that exhibits beauty. And we don't think in those terms, because we don't think of beauty as this high order, like truth and goodness.
That's your point, Luke. I think it's so good. I think as Christians, we understand we have a role in terms of countering lies and speaking truth. And we certainly understand that we're supposed to be holy, and the whole goodness aspect, right? We've got to be holy and righteous, not lie, and these kinds of things. We all get that. But the beauty thing is like, I don't have any idea what you're talking about.
I was writing with a friend of mine, who's a pastor. And actually, we were in Colombia, and I was going to do the first and only conference on "A Call for Balladeers." And it was in Medellin, Colombia, and a friend, pastor friend of mine was driving me and he said, Darrow, how come you're always talking about beauty? Why is that so important? And I thought, here's a pastor who's a friend of mine.
He wouldn't say that about truth, or goodness.
No, he wouldn't. But about beauty, he did. And I said, because God is beautiful. And it was sort of like he was stunned. And then I was with 120-130, young, Christian, either young artists or artists, some were working professionally with their arts. And I had a whole morning where I talked about beauty. And during this lecture on beauty, I remember a young woman put her hand up and she said Darrow, why do you keep talking about beauty this way? We all know beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And I would say virtually all these young Christian people in that audience thought that beauty was in the eyes of the beholder. And I thought that until I was in my 50s and read "The Evidential Power of Beauty." There is a good, that's an absolute. Truth. There's an absolute. But beauty? No, it's in the eyes of the beholder. And that was so ingrained in me, just growing up. It took 50 years to begin to analyze it and realize, no, God is beautiful. Does that mean anything?
Well, Darrow this has been such a, for me such a wonderful discussion. It makes me really excited about the book. And just thank you for your passion over the years, Darrow, to help us to enliven us to the power of beauty and the importance of beauty for the kingdom and the discipling of nations, for the church. The book has called "A Call for Balladeers, Pursuing Art and Beauty for the Discipling of Nations." The website, Tim, once again, where you can go and sign up to be notified when the book is available is?
So check that out. And then I guess one other thing I might mention is that we do have a a book launch event which we're excited about, one of the collaborators on this project, an artist herself, a pianist named Jenny Park has offered her service to organize a launch event in...
Dana Point, California.
Dana Point, California. San Diego area. Beautiful. And that's going to be on...
September 16. It's a Friday night.
So yeah, Friday night, September 16.
And you can find out about that on the website.
Yeah, go back to that same website. So if you're in that area, and you're interested in coming to an event to celebrate the launch of the book, and hear some great art, we would encourage you to go to the website and learn more about that. Is that fair?
That's fair. That's come, one come all. Jenny is a concert pianist. She read the book, wrote a incredible endorsement, read it a second time, all within three days, contacted me and said I want to do a concert for this book launch. And we've never done a book launch before at the DNA. We've just gotten books written and published. And so we're looking forward to this. It's a new experience for us.
Yeah, I want to tell you more about the concert because Jenny's put a lot into this concert. It's going to be really exciting. She's part of Wilberforce International Institute and Music Across Borders. And this is going to feature just some incredible classical music, also, original hymn arrangements that were composed for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. And the release of a newly contemporary theme song, issuing the call "Arise Balladeer" from one of our affiliates. We're going to have a grand piano, professional string quintet with violins, viola, cello, double bass. Children's Choir is going to be they're leading us in reflections of the agape love of God. There's going to be visual aids. And even at certain times, there's going to be some appropriate commentary so that participants can consider how is all this actually connected to biblical worldview? How is this connected to good theology? Dr. Ed Wilmington at Fuller Seminary, he's going to be there with others guiding us in that reflection, so. I don't think you could get a better setting. It's kind of up on a vista of the Pacific Ocean. So it's all gonna come together...
Very soon. Love to see you guys there. And then you can grab your surfboard afterwards. Catch your wave. Right Luke? He's the surfer here among us.
Yeah, Darrow and I'll be out there after the concert.
Body surfing, at least in Darrow's case. Guys, what a great discussion. I look forward to having more discussions. We'll be talking more about the book in the weeks and the months ahead. Because again, we're the Disciple Nations Alliance, and art and beauty are essential to the discipling of nations. So anyways, you'll be hearing hearing more from us on this. Thanks for listening today. Great day.
Thank you for joining us for this episode of Ideas Have Consequences. Again, to learn more about "A Call for Balladeers" and receive a notification in a few weeks when it is available. Go to acallforballadeers.com and I also have that linked on this episode's landing page, which is always linked down in the show notes below. If you enjoyed today's episode, you're absolutely gonna love the next few months of this show, as we have a schedule full of artists who are using their art to disciple their nations. These are the balladeers who are taking truth and goodness and promoting it and incredibly beautiful and creative ways. We will also have our regular schedule of shows about ideas and the consequences that they have in our culture, but we'll be weaving in artists into that schedule as well. So stay tuned. And if you have any friends or family who are passionate about art and beauty, please invite them to join us on Ideas Have Consequences moving forward this fall. Ideas Have Consequences is brought to you by the Disciple Nations Alliance. To learn more about our ministry you can find us on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube or on our website which is disciplenations.org.