dance, the arts, culture...

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dance, the arts, culture...

Postby kaholo4Him » Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:41 am

in foxen's previous post, he said: about the dancing, the singing, the big flag waving, the sign dancing...y'know, I'm glad they effectively use art in ministry....they call it redeeming the arts for Jesus, but....are they really redeeming it or exploiting it? Having kids sing and dance and be all happy happy...that's not art, that's fricking child slave labor if you ask me. Do these kids get discipled in Christ, learn about Jesus in a deep meaningful way...heck no. They learn that those who sing and dance the best are glorified the most, and the rest get to be rocks and grass in the Christmas play.

okay.... i've been a part of gospel hula groups that didn't really do a good job of discipling - if anything, they glossed over a simple scripture and ran the halau like a secular one. if that could be said of mgmc's halau when i was co-leading it, i'll be very sad. i had stepped down from youth ministry and decided to focus on developing the dance ministry. there were several high schoolers in the dance ministry i continued to mentor. it totally wasn't about being the best dancer or even getting up on stage. we started and ended with prayer. we prayed for and supported each other. it was like a small group --- some days we didn't even dance. everything was rooted in worship and about bringing it back to Jesus --- so NOT about us. the heart (and the beginning) of hula as an expression of worship can be found in groups like aloha ke akua. it's come a long way. there are still some native hawaiians that are unhappy with hula in church. in some ways, though, utilizing culture/arts has managed to break through barriers that traditional 'church' hasn't been able to do. there have been rumblings about other ethnic groups wanting to do the same with their culture. i have friends in japan raised in christian households who have never attended a bon dance before because it was 'bad.' do you think you can be actively involved in preserving traditional performing arts or even just participate in cultural events without compromising your faith?
redemption vs. exploitation: where is the line & who draws it? okinawa, hawaii, native american reservations... secular dance has already been exploited --- think pcc, waikiki shell kodak hula show... many dances are performed for tourists. is that wholly bad? there were a few places in okinawa one would think of as tourist traps, but in a way, they are finding ways to preserve their culture while sharing the beauty of it with many people. i'm glad i got to see them - some were still 'authentic.' i once had audition papers for tokyo disneyland's polynesian show... exploitation? sure, it's a money maker for disneyland. i knew some hawaiians who loved their stint there - and they were committed to the art of hula through & through. anywhere there's beauty, there's opportunity for exploitation. that's just how it goes. it is my hope that those involved with christianity & the arts realize that & do what they can to prevent that from happening. thoughts, anyone?
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Postby Foxen » Wed Nov 09, 2005 4:05 am

Kaloho, good post, I really enjoyed it.

Concering redemption versus exploitation...good questions you raise.

I'll take "hula" as an example, since you are a hula dancer and you have been involved in a church based hula halau. For me, one possible way of crossing the line into exploitation is when the deep traditions, the culture, is brushed aside and only what looks good remains... When embracing "cultural" arts, I think it's very important to take time to appreiate the history, the rich traditions that come with the dance and performance. For hula, wouldn't it be more meaningful if the halau members helped gather the ferns and ti-leaves and other flowers in the wilderness (or in once instance, I helped two Hawaiians practice their native Hawaiian gathering rights in Kakaako...err, not quite within case law) and learned to appreciate nature and the environment as the Hawaiians did once before? I'm not pinpointing any one particular church or business and their "exploitation" of culutral arts, but rather, I would prefer it to be a partnership with the cultural arts, versus "using" the arts to do X. Have a little respect for the people, the culture, the history rooted in the artform...

My second year at UH undergrad, I took a few Aikido classes. We were suppose to bow in respect to the founding father of the martial art. His picture was at the front of the class and everyone bowed to it. I felt like Daniel for a moment...and I struggled with whether I should bow or not. Now, in looking back, I'm glad I struggled with the question, but I should have bowed with no problem, because it was an issue of respect, for the culture, the art, and my classmates. There was another time where I didn't bow, or show my respects, and it is something I can never ever get back again. When my grandmother passed away, as a "Christian", I refused to show my respects to my grandmother in participation in some of the rituals of respect. There have been many times since that I wish otherwise. I don't think God would have been pissed at me.

As Christians, I think we need to embrace and respect the cultures that we come out of, and the cultures that we reach and minister to.

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