Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light” died of natural causes on “Good Friday,” April 6, 2012 at his home in California. The irony of the timing of his passing has inspired me to share with you a personal conversation I once had with Mr. Kinkade.
A week or two before I met him, I had read a magazine article on his work that made the claim that Kinkade was trying to reflect a utopian world. The author said that Kinkade wanted to demonstrate what life would be like if there had been no original sin, or no Fall.
If you think about it, you hardly ever see any tragedy in his work. It’s all very lovely and picturesque.
So I asked him if that was an accurate reflection of his goal in creating Art; to show us what life might be life if sin had not entered the world. He paused for a moment, obviously considering if that was true. Then he said, “No, definitely not. In fact, the piece that I consider to be perhaps my most definitive work is ‘The Cross.’ If that isn’t a reflection of sin entering the world, the fallenness of humanity, and our need for redemption, than I don’t know what is!”
Once again he became thoughtful. “No, I think that every artist, within the body of their work, has a responsibility to reflect the world as it truly is; broken. However, as a Christian, I don’t want to dwell on that brokenness. There are plenty of artists who do that, I’m not making judgments about their work. For me personally though, my desire is to give people a message of hope. You can see despair everywhere you look. If I am going to take the time to paint something, I want it to reflect beauty and give people hope.”
His line about despair made me think of Dr. Francis Schaeffer, and his teachings about the Christian and artistic expression. I asked Kinkade if his work had been influenced by Dr. Schaeffer, and if so, in what way.
“Oh, most definitely. I’d say the thing that I gained the most from Dr. Schaeffer was the concept that beauty has value in itself; because it reflects the nature and character of God. Beauty is an inseparable part of God’s nature; of who He is. So when you create Art that is beautiful, you are reflecting the nature of God.”
I think it is ironic that Mr. Kinkade, whose pivotal artistic work was “The Cross,” was able to enter a world that TRULY has no pain or suffering (a perfect world), on the day when we celebrate his Lord’s payment for sin and death. I’m sure that he will be amazed to find his resting place to be far more beautiful than he could ever reflect in his paintings.
Israel Wayne: What does it mean to write fiction from a Christian worldview?
Frank Peretti: When you write fiction from a Christian worldview, you are assuming that there is a personal, loving, redeeming God in charge of this universe and that His principles provide the ultimate answers for life and all of its difficulties. You are assuming that man is fallen and that his problems are the result of the fallenness of this world and his own inherent sinfulness. You are assuming that the true hero is the person who, despite hardships and challenges that would impress him to think and act otherwise, comes to rely on and act upon Truth as God has created it to formulate the solution to his problem.
Israel Wayne: Is there a particular theme or over-arching message that spans your body of work?
Frank Peretti: Every novel I’ve written reflects what I was thinking, learning, and growing through at that particular point in my life, so I suppose an overarching message would be that God always has something new to teach us and that His path for our lives leads us from season to season, lesson to lesson, always for our good.
Israel Wayne: If you could see anything change in the world of Christian fiction, what would it be?
Frank Peretti: Not wanting to be a judge of others or their work, let me speak only for myself: I want to be an honest writer who writes from what God is working in his heart even though such a choice may push against the fleeting dictates of the popular culture. I would like to be out front and leading by example, not following.
Israel Wayne: 100 years from now, how do you want people to describe your work?
Frank Peretti: I would like to be remembered as a significant cultural influence, equipping and edifying the body of Christ but also keeping the awareness of God and His ways before the eyes and minds of the people of my day. Historians may regard my work as a study in where the Christian evangelical mind was toward the end of the 20th century and through the first decades of the 21st.
Israel Wayne: What advice would you give to upcoming fiction authors?
Frank Peretti: Know what you’re doing. It’s not enough to want to write a book. You have to devote yourself to learning the writing craft, knowing all the nuts and bolts, rules and fundamentals of good fiction writing. I’ve often heard would-be writers advised to “never give up,” but that’s the worst thing you can tell somebody who has no skill, no knowledge of how it’s to be done. That person can never give up, and consequently waste his/her whole life producing unmarketable material. Know what you’re doing.
With more than 15 million novels in print, Frank Peretti is nothing short of a publishing phenomenon and has been called “America’s hottest Christian novelist.” In all, including his current work, Illusion, Frank has written nineteen books of various size for various ages. Frank and Barbara live a simple life in rural Idaho. He leads worship at their church, Barbara paints in watercolor, and they enjoy being with their close friends.
Visit Frank on his current “Ask Frank” blog tour: http://askfrankblogtour.weebly.com