Honest creativity demands courage, filmmaker tells HSU students

Steve Taylor, director of the film Blue Like Jazz, speaks at Hardin-Simmons University.

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ABILENE—Christian artists have a responsibility to practice courageous truth-telling, filmmaker Steve Taylor told students at Hardin-Simmons University.

“If Christians are negligent in telling the truth, our culture decays. The Bible tells us we have to be the salt and the light of the Earth,” said Steve Taylor, director of Blue Like Jazz.

Taylor illustrated what he called “the art of courage” by contrasting two paintings—one of a glowing chapel in the woods by Christian artist Thomas Kinkade and the other Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, representing the horrors of war.

“There is no truth in this painting,” he said, pointing to the chapel by Kinkade. In contrast, he said, Picasso presented unpleasant truth.

“That is where the art of courage comes in,” Taylor said.


Creative Christians need to have the courage to tell the truth through their art, he insisted.

“The church has abdicated its role in shaping culture,” he said. Consequently, “we are not showing the world the relevance of Jesus.”

Author Donald Miller announced in 2010 that after years of trying to raise money for the movie adaptation of his book, Blue Like Jazz, he, Taylor and cinematographer Ben Pearson planned to put the project on hold.

However, a groundswell of donations from a website made the movie possible. In just 30 days, the movie proposal generated 4,500 donations on kickstarter.com. People who donated $100 each to making the movie—1,600 of them—all are listed as associate producers in the movie’s credits.

The outpouring of support for the film reflects the desire among a new generation of Christians to see other Christ-followers create better art, Taylor asserted.

The idea that “Christian” equals “family-friendly” inoffensive fare does not reflect Scripture, he noted.

“A safe Bible for the family would be a much shorter book,” he said.

Christians need to counteract the world’s corruption, like salt preserves against decay, Taylor insisted.

“Use your God-given creativity to tell the truth. Creativity and courage will work to inspire the world. Know your Bible. First Corinthians tells us to know the mind of Christ. When you have that, you don’t have to create Christian propaganda. The mind of Christ will flow naturally out of the work you do,” he said. 

–Based on reporting by Janlyn Thaxton


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