Imagine a world without gang violence, suicide, rape, drugs, broken homes. The concept of a world without these things sounds like a fairy tale. For a person living in such a situation it does not seem possible, it is the only life they know. They do not dream bigger dreams because they do not think it is possible to escape the life they have known for so many generations. But for J. Nathan Corbitt and Vivian Nix-Early author’s of “taking it to the streets: using ARTS to transform your COMMUNITY” a world without gang violence, suicide, rape, drugs and broken homes is not just a dream they have seen it become a reality.
In pursuit of the NU JERUZ, short for the New Jerusalem, they open the eyes of the reader to believing that a New Jerusalem is possible. What makes “taking it to the streets” so effective is that Corbitt and Nix-Early are writing from a hands on point of view. From their writing it is easy to tell that they have both gotten their hands dirty in working to bring about the NU JERUZ. Instead of writing out what an ideal art ministry would look like they show what ideal art ministries look like. They do this by telling stories of lives they have seen transformed through the arts as well as partnering with other artist’s methods of transforming the world. In their minds there is not one fixed way of doing things rather they broaden the reader’s minds presenting many different ways art has been used to impact society and they leave room for the reader’s own artistic capabilities and desires.
Fact not Theory
Corbitt and Nix-Early have done their homework. They do not show the NU JERUZ as a mere theory, rather they have worked at it and have proven it true. Their thesis is: “We have observed that Christian communities bound to the sanctuary, as well as the artists within these communities, lack the following: a historical perspective and understanding of the cultural and transforming power of the arts, a theology for the arts of the street, a vocabulary for discussing those arts, and creative methods for bringing faith to action in the streets of society.” (p 17) They are spot on with their observation and get straight into the task of educating what Christian communities and artists are lacking full knowledge of. The writings in “taking it to the streets” are true to the words of its authors. Corbitt and Nix-Early waste no time or words, they have an important message to deliver and they deliver it. Simply through the writing of this book they show exactly what they are wanting to teach their readers: that when you observe a problem it must be acted upon. And that is exactly what this book is doing, acting upon the lack and importance of the artistic community they have observed in the church.
True to the Message
A praiseworthy quality of these two authors is that they are true to the message. This book was written, not to make money, but to make a difference. This is fully evident throughout the book. Every word comes out of the experience and concern of their own hearts. These authors do not have to exalt their work, the fruit of their work exalts them, and only because they are doing it in the name of Jesus.
The message of Jesus Christ is the basis of their NU JERUZ project. They do not present Jesus in a cheesy way but neither are they ashamed of him. There is a trend today to not talk about Jesus but to show Jesus through one’s life. Corbitt and Nix-Early are advocates of showing and telling. If one really believes the gospel of the message is true he will not be able to keep it in. It should come out at some point.
Free for All
No, the book is not free but their ideas are. Both Corbitt and Nix-Early have worked hard on researching, succeeding, and failing for this book to come about. However, despite all their hard work and tedious hours spent on their project they know where their treasure is. Their treasure is clearly not in the money that goes into the selling of this book but their treasure is in the lives changed because of this book. The ideas in this book our free for all to use. Their only concern is that the message gets out and people are healed and brought into the NU JERUZ. The artists they interview are of the same mind: use our method to get the message out.
This is definitely a MUST-READ book for any Christian artist desiring to issue forth shalom. The book is theologically sound and challenging with many of its points brought out of Scripture. It is also a great book for non-artists in the Christian community. A strong valid argument is made on behalf of the arts in the church. This book just might turn the hearts of the people not so inclined to the arts to see the awesome results that can come through artistic endeavors.
Stop imagining a world without gang violence, suicide, rape, drugs, and broken homes get into this book and see it become reality.