Addicted to Mediocrity is an incisive appraisal of a broad evangelical sub-culture which — in attempting to market Christianity — abandons the artistic values that have characterised Christian art in previous centuries. The book is now a generation old, but veryfew of its criticisms are less relevant today. It might be more accurate to suggest that they apply increasingly to post-Christian culture in the USA and Britain.
Schaeffer's approach grew out of the L'Abri community founded by his father Francis Schaeffer, and his almost-cynical style might remind some readers of the music of fellow L'Abri alumnus Steve Taylor. Those who have read Hans Rookmaker will also identify his cultural perspectives.
Another reviewer has suggested that this is an angry book. This is possibly slightly unfair, but it would be a reasonable criticism to say that this is not a particularly generous book: Schaeffer's passion for good art leaves little space for people who want to express themselves at a more ordinary level.
I got a lot out of this book, and it informed a lot of my subsequent views.
on 30 July 1999
Schaeffer challenges the 20th century Christian to re-live the glory and passion of the Christian art of the Renaissance, where art was a spiritaul act of worship. He srongly riducules the 20th century church for it's superficial understanding of humanity where man is viewed only as a soul rather than a wholistic being and thus contends that Christian art need not be confined only to evangelistic efforts. (It's the whole man that is saved, not just his soul. It is the the whole man that is resurrected not simply the soul's etheral continuation) Art, at it's core, is an imitation of God, the Creator and as such, the Christian should not view his prospective subject material as being either "Christian" or "Secular". Because the artist is a Christian and his art, whatever it maybe, will be Christian. While Art may express a particualr worldview, the Christian is free to create "useless" and representational art. While I think this book is invigorating to the contemporary Christian Artist, I think Schaeffer's overall tone while may be stark, is a bit venomous. As another reader has pointed out, his anger seems to become an obstacle to his otherwise reasonable points.
on 7 November 2015
Interesting, if a little old. Schaeffer certainly defines the malady often found in the church about the arts, but there is actually no true remedy here - the honest answer is that artists who are Christians of any salt are commonly alienated by their gift due to the estranged manner in which they are viewed by mainstream 'teaching' on the subject. Sadly, it's indicative of a 'faith' which is usually clueless on how to provide a rich and engaging spirituality for our times - something which is imperative to a true relationship to the Gospel.
Highly recommended (as Schaeffer states himself) is Rookmaarker's works on faith and arts (again, a little dated now) as well as Al Wolters seminal theological piece, Creation Regained.
on 20 January 1999
An excellent book with a lot to offer the continually diminishing world of quality Christian art. Lot's of opendendedness in my opinion--do this, but how. His book is where practicality and creativity collide. I don't think he INTENDED to give any answer about how to do it other than: CREATE. He did draw some excellent conclusions about how we (Christians) have compartmentalized almost everything in our lives and placed certain values on different vocations and ways of life. Necessary reading for Christian actors, writers, visual artists, and housewifes wishing to raise children that think.
on 12 February 2005
this book is SO much more than polemic, as another reviewer suggested. i read it many years ago and found it both a passionate challenge and an encouragement, to live life fearlessly and creatively. for any christian wrestling with their place in the church & wider world as a creative individual, read this book. he makes the statement that "it is the christian who's imagination should fly beyond the stars". while the creative act is obviously not limited to christians, this statement forms the overriding salvo of the book. make your life extraordinary & seize the day.
on 21 June 1999
This book is a scathing critique of the fundamentalist subculture's approach to the arts. However, Frank Schaeffer is a very very angry man. As in his other books, his anger gets in the way of the points he tries to make. More a polemic than a reasoned discussion.