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Discipleship.Network ~ Makoto Fujimura on Art, Culture, Film, Gospel, Worship

Phil Miglioratti's Interview with Makoto Fujimura
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Phil ~  Makoto, would it be accurate to describe you and your mission for Christ as a collage made of seemingly disparate terms like culture, worship, policy-makers, literature, suffering, art? 
Makoto ~  Thanks...yes, my calling is multi-faceted, but everything flows out of my studio in making beauty. When I lecture, I often begin by imagining inviting people into my studio, into the heart of creativity.  When I write, all of my books begin with the creative process of painting.


Phil ~  You state Christ-followers must "move beyond the boycotting of culture Christians are known for" ... Why? How? 
Makoto ~  We worship THE Artist, the Creator of all things.  We are created to be creative, we are all artists with small "a".  Christians should be the most imaginative, creative tribe, from which culture is renewed, from which we gain a vision for the new world.  Boycotting culture is the opposite of what such a responsibility and call invites us to.  If we are creating, making authentic and honest and beautiful expressions, we will not need to boycott at all, for the very nature of such a Godly creation will expose the lie, and uphold the beautiful and the true.

Phil ~  How vital is the expression of artistic faith to the proclamation of the Gospel?
Makoto ~  The Gospel IS the expression of the Artist (God).  Art and the Gospel are not two different tracks; Jesus is the ultimate artist that has ever lived.  The Word became Flesh, and thereby the embodiment of God's Word is a key aspect of communicating the Good News, and fulfillment of the Great Commission.  In the act of making, we tap into this incarnational knowledge, the embodied knowledge of the Creator into the broken world.

Phil ~  What can the western Church learn about encountering Christ from the Japanese culture?
Makoto ~  Every culture has "hidden key" to unlock the part of the Gospel that is obscured by our preconceptions.  Japanese culture is one of the most integrated culture to connect nature/culture, to bring the sacrificial nature of beauty.  As I note in my new book "Silence and Beauty" because of the explicit and exclusive persecution of Christians for 250 years in Japanese history, that has left an imprint, an embossed image of Christ in their culture. 

Phil ~  Please give us glimpses into:
Makoto ~  
  • Silence and Beauty - is my autobiography, and a journey into "Silence" by Shusaku Endo.  "Silence" is being turned into a major motion picture by none other than Martin Scorsese, to be released this December.  This book traces my journey into faith, my wrestling with Endo's book, and ultimately a reassessment of missions to flow out of the "failures" of faith in Japan.
  • Art and Worship and Theology - I am excited to embark on a new project as a director of Brehm Center (Fuller Seminary's Center of Worship, Theology and the Arts).  I am embarking on a new book called "Theology of Making" which traces observations I've had as an artist reading the Word of God.  I am excited to share this thesis with students at Fuller Seminary
  • Film and Faith - I recently attended Sundance Film festival with Rob Johnston (the founder of Reel Spirituality).  I work with Alissa Wilkinson (chief film critic of Christianity Today) to create a Culture Care newsletter every month (www.iamculturecare.com).  In working with my colleagues, I am gaining a deeper appreciation of film as a medium, a powerful path toward experiencing God in unexpected means.
  • Culture and Policy-Makers - As a National Council on the Arts member (Senate approved, Presidentially appointed) from 2003-2009, I've had ample look into the role of arts advocacy from the governmental level.  Out of this experience of working with then Chair Dana Gioia (poet and former business executive), I've written "Refractions" and "Culture Care".  Culture is not a territory to win, but an ecosystem to steward, a garden to tend.
  • Christ and Mystery - When Paul speaks of proclaiming the Gospel, he asks for prayer that he "fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel".  The Mystery of the Gospel is revealed through Jesus, but the mystery of Christ is being revealed through extraordinary means, not just through the institution of the church.  The invisible church belongs in the domain of that mystery, and art allows us to peer into that zone.

Phil ~  In the midst of a terrified world and a Church with little cultural impact or redeeming influence, what is your best hope for the future?
Makoto ~  The church needs to become a creative hub, a center of creating from the "still point of the turning world" (T.S. Eliot).  It is precisely because we have not been the creative force in the last century, that we are experiencing our ineffectiveness to affect culture.  Even though we are exiled from the culture at large, we can still create beauty in exile.  We will gather for Culture Care Summit at Brehm Center in Pasadena next Feb 8-12th 2017 with the theme of "creating beauty in exile". Come join us!

Phil ~  May we pray with you?
  • "Dear Artist who created all there is to be known, empower us as your little artists to create, to prepare for the Cosmic Wedding to come.  Make your children seek the highest level of craft, to reach the deepest recesses of our experiences, to release the captives and to open the eyes of the blind.  May our faithful creativity be nurtured, and may we be daring and caring, nurturing catalytic agent for the entire cultural ecosystem.  May God's Countenance Shine upon those who labor, without much support from the world or the church, to create beauty, to reveal truth, and embody goodness; may our efforts be part of your Plan to not just repair this world, but to be heirs and co-creator of the New World to come."

  
Fujimura’s book is a brilliant blend of investigation and reflection. The reader learns about the compelling history of Christianity in Japan and its strangely enduring influence there, while at the same time being led into a profound meditation on the relation of Christian faith to contemporary culture. A truly impressive achievement.

 

Gordon Graham is Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary

 

Makoto Fujimura's "Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering" to be released in May from IVPress, with a major exhibit at Waterfall Mansion in New York City (www.makotofujimura.com)

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love of christ to u evangelist vartan mokoto
love of christ to u evangelist vartan mokoto
Byron Spradlin responds to Phil Miglioratti’s interview of Makoto Fujimura:

Paragraph #1 – Mako is a tremendous model for artistic Christians.   As long as I have known him (at least a decade) he has consistently maintained a creative view of who he is—made in God’s image, but sculpted creatively, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a unique poem, himself.   He has not bowed to the conventional categories of what an artist is.  Therefore though he is creative, he is not undisciplined, nor universalist.  Though he is clearly innovative, he is thoughtful and biblical—what conventional thinking would label as left-brain function.  But that is Mako as well.  And though he deals with the mysteries of life expressed in creative ways, he also studies the Scriptures and factors in the objective realities of GOD, HIS virtues, and HIS purposes.

Silence and Beauty Author Serves as Consultant on Long-Awaited Martin Scorsese Film

December 2016 | Krista Clayton | 630.734.4013 | kclayton@ivpress.com

 

WESTMONT, IL—When IVP author Makoto Fujimura was weighing whether to write a book inspired by Shusaku Endo’s 1966 classic novel Silence, a friend introduced him to Martin Scorsese, who had been considering a film about the same book for nearly thirty years. That conversation with Scorsese led Fujimura to move ahead with writing his book and to become a consultant for Scorsese’s Silence, which is set for limited release on December 23.

 

Fujimura’s book, Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering, is a hopeful companion to Scorsese’s film, taking up the difficult themes it depicts.

 

Josh Larsen, co-host of the radio show and podcast Filmspotting and author of the forthcoming IVP title Movies Are Prayers, read Silence and Beauty and recently saw a preview of Silence. Larsen said, “After experiencing Martin Scorsese’s intense, evocative Silence, viewers will be hungry for the very thing Makoto Fujimura’s Silence and Beauty offers: fascinating historical and cultural context, as well as a personal testimony of the way Fujimura’s own convictions have been formed by the Endo book that Scorsese beautifully brings to the screen.” 

 

Hailed as one of the greatest works of twentieth-century Japanese literature, Endo’s novel, Silence, tells the story of the persecution of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries who encounter bloody resistance and persecution from local leaders in seventeenth-century Japan as they undertake a quest to find their fallen mentor. Endo’s narrative raises uncomfortable questions about God and the ambiguity of faith in the midst of suffering and hostility. Glenn Whipp of the Los Angeles Times described the film adaptation featuring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield as “a probing and deeply spiritual examination of faith tested by the seeming silence of God.”

 

“The film adaptation of Silence is much more than what anyone could have predicted-- majestic, soul-stirring and historic,” Fujimura said. “The movie, as a visual testament, stays faithful to Shusaku Endo’s masterpiece, and remains faithful to the 17th century martyrs of Japan. It is a movie for ‘such a time as this.’”

 

An internationally renowned visual artist, Fujimura in Silence and Beauty lends a personal interpretation of Endo’s book as he overlaps his artistic faith journey with Endo’s, uncovering deep layers of meaning in Japanese history and literature, expressed in art both past and present. He finds connections to how faith is lived in contemporary contexts of trauma and glimpses of how the gospel is conveyed in Christ-hidden cultures. Philip Yancey, a bestselling Christian author, said, “Only Mako Fujimura could have written this book. It sheds light on a wealth of topics—a classic novel, Japanese culture, Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking, the fine arts, theology, the enigmas of East and West—and leaves the reader with a startlingly new encounter with Christ.”

 

IVP publisher Jeff Crosby said, “I first read Endo’s Silence in the 1980s at the suggestion of Philip Yancey. It was both painful and riveting and unforgettable all at the same time, as Scorsese’s film adaptation will no doubt be. I’m grateful for the chance that IVP has had to publish into the conversations generated by that book and by the film through Makoto’s powerful Silence and Beauty. In many ways, it serves as both a primer and an interpreter for the other two and, like them, challenges we readers—and viewers—to recognize that what on one level is abject failure can, at times, be the beginning of a new  journey toward compassion.”

 

Founded in 1947 as an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, InterVarsity Press serves those in the university, the church and the world by publishing thoughtful Christian books that equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of life. For more information, visit ivpress.com.

 
 
 
--
Krista Clayton    
InterVarsity Press
Senior Publicist
Online & Broadcast Publicity

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