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Sam Davidson's blog

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Posts tagged art
The Garden Lady

There's a house on our usual walking route that has a lot of flowers out front. They're mostly simple pansies or marigolds, but my daughter is captivated by them. When we ask if she wants to go by the garden, she always answers with an enthusiastic "Yes!" Last night, as we made our way to the garden, we saw the woman who lives there outside working in her garden, either planting or weeding. She saw us approaching and said a gentle "Hello."

We paused, returned the nicety, and paused so our daughter could take in the purple, red, yellow, and orange flowers.

"Take one," the garden lady said.

"Are you sure?" we asked, a bit taken aback.

"Sure. That's what they're there for."

We asked our daughter which one she wanted. She selected a purple one and I knelt to break the stem and hand it to her. We wished the garden lady a good night and continued on our loop back home.

If you create something beautiful, don't be afraid to give it to others. No, you can't always control what they'll do with it, but beauty is too great and wonderful to keep to yourself.

My daughter may never remember this particular walk, but I hope she becomes the kind of person who's not afraid to make beautiful things for others to enjoy.

May you do the same this week, in your small plot in this world.

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Why CBS Sunday Morning Has Better Content Than Your Pastor

On Sundays, when I write, I do so at length on some topic of religion, Christianity, Jesus stuff, or faith. Beware. Last Sunday, I fired off this quick one liner on Facebook:

CBS Sunday Morning

As of this writing, 13 people liked the status, which means (I think) they agree with me. The comments were mixed, ranging from a few people who agreed to a few who didn't. Most people let me know that their pastor was part of the 5%.

I'm sure he is.

Have you ever watched a really great episode of CBS Sunday Morning? Or heard a great podcast from "This American Life?" It's like when you've been to a great comedy show, a mesmerizing new art exhibit, or even caught a memorable movie. If you've been wrapped up in a live music concert, been whisked off to someplace else while reading poetry, or you've come to know a topic deeper after a too-short TED talk, then you've felt more than most sermons today offer.

If you want a religious experience, the last place to go is a church.

It wasn't always this way. Sermons used to be intellectual, inspiring, personal, relevant, educational, and informative. Sure, they used to last way more than 30 minutes, didn't come with notes inserted into the bulletin, or weren't available for instant download afterward, but at least they were thought-out.

Believe it or not, time was actually invested in the act and craft of preaching. Pastors honed their skills well before their days became full of budget meetings, hospital visits, and figuring out how to work a tithing appeal into this week's Psalm reading. They used to pore over commentaries, concordances, and cannons in order to arrive at a point or application that would be meaningful to their audience while also being loaded with wisdom for people who would read those words generations on.

Nowadays, when you can get millions of perspectives in the time it takes you to click "I'm Feeling Lucky", there is no sacrifice. There is no point that is hard won. And when the people in front of you have been in the same seat for 15 years and visitors only show up because "First" is on your marquee, then what's the use in getting better at something? Keep it simple and save Saturdays for yard work and iced tea.

And this is why CBS Sunday Morning or everything on TED.com or a great book is better. When you can find a shining example of someone practicing their craft, you feel uplifted. You feel like you see something of God/a god present. You are transported to somewhere else, somewhere you feel like you can be better. You're more hopeful, more kind, more loving, more inspired. You've become a better person.

Church used to do that for us.

It doesn't have to anymore, though. This isn't an appeal to preachers to get better. It's an appeal to everyone to find church where they may. Jesus isn't confined to brick walls, red carpet, three points, and a poem, either. I believe you can glimpse God at a singer/songwriter night, while serving others, in the lines of a great poem, or while watching a riveting documentary.

The challenge for pastors, really, is to understand that competition doesn't just exist down the street at the other church. People are experiencing God in the streets, in between your buildings. And if you can't provide art in its highest form - that which transports us somewhere else - then you will be discounted as a place that can't provide a God experience. I can't think of anything more irrelevant for a church. So stop dumbing down your sermons because you're afraid you can't reach a society glued to Two and a Half Men. In reality, the exact opposite is true.

May you use your Sunday to enjoy someone else's work, someone who works hard, who sacrifices, who thinks, who challenges, who professes, who proclaims, who hopes, and who tries. 

Wherever you see that happening, there is church.

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Speaking Event: Creativity Moves

I'm excited to announce that I'll be speaking at a brand new event in just a few weeks. Creativity Moves is a new event series beginning in Nashville on May 24. The four-day event is designed to uplift and inspire creative professionals to use their tools and art to make a difference in the community.

I'm speaking on the afternoon of the first day, giving a short talk about creativity, art, and caring. Here's the full lineup of speakers that afternoon.

Check out the entire event schedule and if you're in Nashville, be sure to attend the event. And if you're not in Nashville, don't worry. There are talks already of replicating this model elsewhere.

Here's to staying creative!

Use Your Art in Service of the Good

What are you doing with your art? I don't mean your paintings or sculptures or your songs (unless of course you do those things). Your art is that thing (or things) you do well, perhaps better than anyone else. It's the discipline, the talent, the gift you have that allows you to excel at something, whether it's accounting, storytelling, parenting, or teaching.

If you're merely scheming ways to use your art to make money, I'd like to challenge you to do better. Use your art for something deeper.

Honor someone with it. Pay homage to the person or people who inspired you, people who used his or her art to make you better.

Here's how Coldplay recently used their art to honor the person who they respect and admire:

It's okay to make money with your art (by all means!). But go beyond that and use it to tell the truth, honor someone, or make a difference in the world.

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