Drawing upon her years of experience as both a dancer and teacher of dance, Marlita Hill exposes the lie that has caused so many Christian artists to feel uneasy–discordant even–in their artistry: that somehow, “secular” art isn’t appropriate for the Christian artist. Like the master dance instructor she is, she guides readers through a number of deliberate movements that liberate them from these unhelpful distinctions between the sacred and the secular. Defying Discord is a great read for artists of any kind who are looking for encouragement regarding the integration of their faith and their vocation.
Dr. Kutter Callaway, professor of theology and culture and author of Scoring Transcendence, Watching TV Religiously, and Breaking the Marriage Idol
Based on my reading of Defying Discord, Marlita Hill has written a book with an encouraging message that not only gives insight to questions that believers who make a career practicing their form of art wrestle with, but also challenges the insecurities that artists struggle with. Her conversational writing style makes reading her latest book feel like two people having an informal yet thoughtful reflection on what it is to be an artist led by the Holy Spirit in a secular environment. I strongly recommend this book.
Reginald Cole, dance educator and performer
I can’t give you Marlita S. Hill’s street address, but I can tell you where she lives. She lives at the intersection of art and faith. Her new book Defying Discord is a Manifesto for Christians with “secular” art careers, and it’s brilliant. There always seems to be this disconnect between the Christian faith and the culture and this disconnect seems to be amplified for the practitioners, the artists. Can we be artists in Christ, working in “secular” culture. I’ve always believed the answer is “Yes!” and Marlita Hill serves as an expert navigator. She is a professional dancer and choreographer as well as the founder of KAI (Kingdom Art Initiatives) a ministry that helps creatives of faith to work in the “secular” culture. This book will challenge your thinking, at times make you scratch your head, maybe even shake it once or twice, but I tend to believe those are less about the material presented and more about the internal struggle occurring in the heart of the artist. At least it was for me.
I’ve been on both sides of this proverbial aisle. I was the artist who had a big wall between my faith and my art and the result was a disaster. I had to lay my career down for a short period of time while God did some work on my heart, and called me to church ministry. Today, I feel most of my calling is to the church, serving as a Church pastor, as well as an itinerant painter, speaker and storyteller, through my ministry AMOKArts.com. Reading Defying Discord has made me question why I was “back-burnering” projects to which I was pretty sure God was leading me, but that largely didn’t fit my “ministry context.” I slowly began to see that even though Sunday after Sunday I tell my congregation to go beyond the walls of the church, and use their gifts and talents to the glory of God, I was passing on things that might take me to that very place.
While this book is for people in the arts, there are a lot of principles here that could apply across a much wider spectrum of the Church. Chapters 9-12 (which deal with the different ways we relate to God) alone would be worth the price of the book. As I read this book there was one thought that kept coming up, one for which I’m not sure there is a good answer. Why all this pressure on artists? No one expects a Christian mechanic to only work on “Christian cars” (is there such a thing) or even cars belonging to Christians. The expectation also doesn’t apply to most other fields. I think this thought alone is enough to release us. Why not submit our gifts to God, trust Him and go where He leads? Thank you Marlita. This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read on Christians in the arts. It addresses a section of the topic that really needed to be addressed. Five stars!
Dave Weiss, AMOK Arts, Pastor and Artist
Through biblical principles and insight, Marlita Hill encourages a renewed and revived perspective for Christians who are artist working in a marketplace calling and career. Defying Discord’s pages are saturated with probing questions, nudging the reader to consider a liberated way of thinking about their relationships; with their Creator, their art and themselves. Through practical and relatable examples of everyday life, her words reassure us to step closer finding freedom, joy and purpose in one’s daily art life.
Cynthia Newland, MFA, Founder of Alible3: Nourishing the Body, Soul, and Spirit, and former Chair of Dance, Belhaven University
This powerful book is a freedom cry for the Christian who identifies as an artist who creates outside of traditionally Christian contexts or themes. Break free from the needless criticism and/or guilt that might have been placed on you as an artist by yourself or by those who share your faith, yet fail to see the value in your art. This work also calls for the perceptual unification of your identity as both an artist and a Christian: these parts of you are neither separate, nor unrelated. This work is full of relatable, real-life experiences to help you along the journey of becoming unapologetic in your artistry. This is a must-read for all creative professionals who seek to follow God while creating in “secular” spheres. However, the message of this work is universally relevant for any Christian who does any kind of work outside of the church. It reads as a relaxed conversation with a good friend who is seeking to encourage you in both your professional life and your walk in the Lord. DO NOT miss this incredible, encouraging work by an artist of faith for artists of faith!
Kristin Walti, Artist
Be prepared to be challenged. As someone who always thought that art created by a Christian should only be Christian-themed, Defying Discord was a paradigm shift. In reading Defying Discord, Marlita Hill affirms that there does not need to be such a great divide between the sacred and the secular. Defying Discord is well-researched and scripturally sound. Marlita Hill gives practical examples and speaks to real-world ideologies.
Defying Discord ends with a punch and although many of my questions and objections were answered in her book, I am left wanting to learn more and wanting to do more. I am left affirmed, changed, challenged, and propelled into action. If you are ready to break out of your self-imposed box of your gifting and your career, Defying Discord is a game-changer.