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Walking in the Sacred Way: Ojibway Prayer

In a prayer offered by an Ojibway elder, themes of brokenness, restoration, and balance with all of creation are present. From a North American First-Nations/Native American perspective, we can begin to see these themes in a new light within our own communities.

Grandfather,
Look at our brokenness.
We Know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

(more…)

Power of Symbols: Minimum Bible

minimumArtist Joey Novak has an installation of minimalist interpretations of books of the Bible (LINK). Out of respect for his work, I will not post the images here, but encourage you to follow the link to see for yourself.

Questions to consider:

What symbols carry the most power in his art?

How do we assign meaning to symbols (enough meaning that they can convey so much more than words)?

What other symbols exist that we can use to communicate the gospel and discipleship?

Postmodern Theology: Immanence and Forgiveness

I have always liked this song for its simplicity. The band (mewithoutYou) is one whose use of imagery and lyricism  is pregnant with meaning and the connection toward the spiritual.

There is much hand wringing in the western church over the growing margins of people who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious” or specifically “Christian”. This song speaks to this strata of people looking for spiritual significance in a world that is increasingly distant.

The song makes no explicit mention of Christ or salvation, yet a cursory glance at the lyrics makes several theological declarations. (more…)

Art and Evangelism

Marilynne Robinson is an American author whose writing has carried subtle Christian messages and found resonance among wider circles, most recently a review in the New Yorker magazine. Allison Backhous has a recent piece in ThinkChristian.net considering her approach to creativity and the impact it can have on society.

This leads her to a question, can art be both true and evangelistic? (more…)

Self-Sabotage: The Lord’s Prayer

A series of short films, titled Self-Sabotage,  by Scott Brignac to accompany Derek Webb’s Feedback album convey graphically the significance of the Lord’s Prayer as experienced by several people.

Self-Sabotage: the deliberate subversion of oneself. Destructive or obstructive action that hinders the person who acts. See also: the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer is inherently violent towards the one who prays it.

Self-Sabotage is an exploration of the Lord’s Prayer based on and inspired by Derek Webb’s electronic all instrumental album ‘Feedback’. It follows six characters in a narrative with no words – only the music to parallel the stories.

This film has come to pick a fight, and any viewing that fails to recognize that may put the viewer at risk in one way or another.  Self-Sabotage rests firmly amidst the tension between the prayed and the praying; the single-minded character and vision of the Lord’s prayer serves as the sub-text through which we enter into the lives of its characters. Their lives, like moving icons, open windows into the great mystery of communion through self-dethroning sabotage.

The film is embedded below (27 minutes) and available for download in HD here. We welcome response to the film in the comment section or as a separate post.

Guidance and Light

This shows an Islamic starburst tile pattern (which traditionally symbolizes the spread of Islam throughout the universe), a lighted lamp and the first half of a verse (5:46) from the Qur’an which states:

Sample Images from "Guidance and Light" by Scott Rayl

“And We (God) sent, following in their footsteps Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which was before him in the Torah, and gave him the Gospel, in which there is guidance and light…” (more…)

Visualization

We need artists in our community. Those who are willing to take risks and be vulnerable in order to convey the truth in their vision. Those who are willing to be misunderstood, yet willing to wait in the process until their vision can be seen by others.

As members in the audience, we watch the artist with intrigue. We do not see the clarity of vision and we are distracted by the flair of the brush strokes or the splatter of the paint. As the piece progresses, we are trying to fit the piece into our preconceptions. It is not until the artist completely turns our perspective upside down that we are able to see what they have been able to see all along– an image that becomes immediately recognizable to us. (more…)

Sometimes I Want to Call God Mother – What We Call God Matters

Sometimes I want to call God Mother, Father, friend, companion, lover of my soul. At other times I want to call God creator, saviour, Lord of the Universe, bringer of justice, rescuer of the poor. I thought about this a lot this morning after receiving a message from a friend who reads my facebook prayers.

I’ve really enjoyed your prayers, Christine. However in recent months I’m noticing more and more that Jesus isn’t mentioned by name…. Somehow God and Christ, accurate names, aren’t as intimate and personal too me as the name “Jesus”… Am I just a hopeless Evangelical?

Her words were very perceptive but caught me off guard inviting me to think about what I call God and why. Have I drifted away from a sense of personal intimacy with God or is there more to this change?

Christ- King or Friend or Companion?

What we call God matters. All the names I listed above are legitimate and important names for God, but they produce very different images in our minds. The first list all bring a sense of intimacy with them. They draw us into a close and personal relationship to God. They invite us to call God Abba, the Christ Jesus and the Spirit Comforter. The encourage us to grow the love of God deep within our hearts.

However, these names can also have negative connotations. (more…)

God as Artist: Expressions of Goodness

Creation is God’s artwork that reflects his character and nature. When he speaks, he expresses himself and light appears. God reveals himself in the form of light – and it is good. God then separates that light from the darkness because light, as an expression of his goodness, reflects his holy and pure nature: “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5).

As God continues to speak, he expresses his goodness in visible, tangible forms, and the world comes into being.  He separates the waters (chaos) and brings land (order).  Again he says, “This is good.”  Finally, he creates human beings.  We become expressions of God, little icons created to reveal the goodness and character of God. This time God says, “This is very good.” (more…)

Henna Storytelling

Imagine if you had several hours to sit with someone and listen to their story, while re-assuring them with your touch and sharing with them spiritually transforming concepts in the casual tone that defies barriers. Imagine if that person whom you have shared with would be able to have tangible reminders of your conversation–and how much you care–to reflect back upon during the following weeks. Imagine if she was also compelled to tell her friends about your conversation and the spirituality you had shared one afternoon.

Imagine if that storytelling were done in such a beautiful and creative way that it adorned that woman  as exemplar as a child of God.

In South Asia, there is a project to use henna art and storytelling to tell stories from the Bible and the gospel message. (more…)

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