A few years ago I hosted a panel of songwriters at a worship and arts conference. One of the questions I asked was “How do you define a successful song?”
In replying, five of the six panelists used the phrase: “My truth.” I remember thinking “My truth” as a phrase I’d only heard the previous few years. Twenty years ago it would’ve seemed abstract—how can truth be mine?
It is incumbent on artists to speak their truth in their art—a poem, novel, painting, or song should contain some nugget of the artist’s feelings and perspective at their core.
So often these day though, artists communicate ‘my truth’ as expression for its own sake. It’s form over substance, a contrived identity that reveals nothing except self-serving aspiration.
As C.S.Lewis discerned: “the artist…is drawn away from the love of the thing he tells, to the love of the telling…”
This is troubling as it gives the artist an out from any incentive to engage in authentic dialogue, outside of their own opinion and viewpoint—because it’s their truth.
Honestly? This art doesn’t love.
Love demands some effort to communicate. It’s not content with its own truth. It seeks the truth of another. Love attends to one another. Love cares about details—listens and sacrifices for one another. Love commits to another.
In short…love takes some work.
Art that loves is an act of faith, hoping in a visceral connection with the truth, not yours or mine divided.
“Faith is not a state of mind but an action in the world, a movement towards the world.” – Christian Wiman
True art loves.