Ansel Adams and Reformed Worship

One of my favorite photographers is Ansel Adams, well known for his iconic black & white photographs that create what he called " a departure from reality." The NY Times has an excellent audio commentary on their site this week. By focusing primarily on black & white work, he created boundaries for himself and his viewers that forced one to study the subject on levels other than the expected. For example, "Nevada Fall, Rainbow" is a picture of a rainbow... in black & white. When you can't see the color of the rainbow, you're forced to appreciate it on another level, and that's a good thing.

Our worship heritage is very similar. In a Reformed church, we have created boundaries (based in Scripture) that hold us back from indulging in every possible whim in the context of a worship service. Admittedly, many churches push these boundaries, but they exist nonetheless. In my own creative life, I find that boundaries bring out the best in me, whether it is the time frame of a sermon or the instrumentation of a song. If I am forced to operate within a set of guidelines, it's much easier for me to create something worthwhile. Otherwise, the end result is bloated and ineffective; too much plenty of chaff mixed in with the wheat.

How about you? Do you work best when you have free reign or when you have limits on yourself?


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