In What Is Art? Leo Tolstoy wrote that one of the chief criteria in judging art is how powerfully the art transmits the feelings of the author to us. If art is “infectious,” if it gets under our skin and moves us to think or act differently or perhaps to create our own art, then that art has proven successful. In Tolstoy’s own words, “The stronger the infection the better is the art, as art.”
When watching a play live, this infection can be extremely powerful. The performers are physically near us and appeal or repel us in immediate ways. We respond to the story and to the voices and to the grandeur of the stage. And we respond in deeply felt ways to the truth presented and what it suggests about our life in this fallen world longing for grace.
Have you ever had this type of powerful experience watching a play? What about the play got under your skin, and how were you changed by the experience? Read Philippians 4:8-9. Given the unique power of dramatic art, do we have a special challenge as Christians both performing in theater and watching it?
If Theater has not had this effect on you, what form of art has? Talk about how you have been infected by that art in specific ways, and why you have been so affected, and what the result has been. Then tie that to the passage from the letter to the Philippians.
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