Convivium: You are an artist who has written and spoken on the role of the arts in both the faith landscape and society at large. I’ve been asked by followers of your work to ask you to answer the following question: “What does it mean for human beings to be makers?”
Makoto Fujimura: That is a great question, and my next book(s) "Theology of Making" will address this issue! The role of artists are critical in a polarized culture, to allow for deeper inspection of our human experiences. We are homo faber, as well as being a homo sapiens, and that "making" defines our humanity. In some sense, we cannot know (homo sapiens) truly without being makers (homo faber) first.
Convivium: One of the themes you return to again and again in the span of your life’s work has been beauty. The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins tells us that, “the world is charged with the grandeur of God” and Dostoevsky's character the Idiot says, “Beauty will save the world.” What advice would you give to our readers seeking to become more attune to beauty in the world around them?
Makoto Fujimura: Beauty, at least in the Japanese context, is tied to the notion of sacrifice. I explore this in my book "Silence and Beauty". Being aware of beauty and sacrifice all around us is part of our journey into both creativity and mercy. As theologian N.T. Wright has noted, Beauty and Mercy are two avenues to experience the New Creation now, on this side of eternity, but both a deemed "non essential" to our survival, and deemed "useless". Precisely because of the it takes faith ("Faith is the substance of things hoped for." Hebrews 11), to create beauty and live with mercy, and we create signposts of the New Creation as a result of that faith action.
Convivium: In 2016, the global community grappled with a myriad of events that challenged our understanding of what it means to belong to one another and carry on in light of socio-economic, political, and environmental challenges. What is the role of art in our journey as a global community to better “belong to one another?”
Makoto Fujimura: My book "Culture Care" addresses such theme of the art as an essence of our humanity in polarized, corrupt time such as hours. The arts remind us to live in abundance, rather than scarcity, and challenge us to envision human thriving, rather than fight for limited resource territories of culture, as in Culture Wars. The arts, given in that way as a gift to society, mirrors and prepares for the gospel of Jesus to be communicated to the world.