October Monthly Letter

by Geoff Hall on October 28, 2010

Mentoring support for those involved in word, image or perfomance art.
October, 2010: Forum for Change
Dear Mentoring Group,

It has been a strange old month: News that we won’t be going to LA to meet with potential investors, participating in a speed-writing competition (168 hours to focus your mind and then wonder if you have one left!), visiting exhibitions and attending the Forum for Change meeting in Easton.

At the Forum meeting, we were given an insight by Stuart Murray-Williams into our Post-Christendom situation and asked to consider that culturally this was a state of exile; speaking comforting words from Jeremiah about blending-in and prospering.  I of course couldn’t agree to this interpretation of our cultural situation.  To posit that we are in a state of exile, suggests our home is elsewhere.  This of course is not true, we were created to be good stewards of Creation, to cultivate good things in the ‘here and now’ and cross-pollinate things for future (potential) development.  We were given a cultural mandate which ‘suggests’ not displacement, but location.  Exile may be a thread in Judaism’s story, but our story starts in a land occupied by imperial forces!

Our cultural response should therefore be different from that of exile.  In the light of this, be careful which contract you sign; the old or the new!  So, Stuart and I had a good conversation in our group session!  I left the discussion with this thought. “If we are called to, ‘go into all the world’, how then can we be exiled?  If the whole world is ours, every place is home.”

The second thread of the day arrived on my radar a little later when someone said ‘sport is a great tool’!  Ah, so we are back to seeing everything in Creation as a tool, a utility to exploit.  A tool for what you may ask?  For Evangelism of course; as the whole cultural mandate has been whittled down to serve the institution and leave us with only one ‘function’.  So we don’t actually love God’s good creation, we just want to utilise its resources for a message.  As Hans Rookmaaker said, ‘There are more important things to be done than evangelism.’

Why does he say this and why does it seem so provocative?

He makes this point, because the whole of Creation has been given to us to take care of; to tend and cultivate.  The limited utilitarian view of Creation speaks of institutional needs and not creational ones.  It seems so provocative because we are slaves to the institution, our minds captured to serve this monolithic spirituality, set in stone to preserve ‘the faith’.  However, such preservation renders the faith lifeless; the art sterile, veiled with symbols which make sense only if you know the code.  Locked in a bygone age of Christendom, the word has not so much become flesh, as turned to stone!

I was talking to one of The Group who lives near Sacramento, California.  Heather said such a wonderful thing to me, which I think is worth repeating.  It reminds us of our work in the arts.

“Artists can often see beyond here and now, that’s how we can create works of art on blank paper or blank canvas.”  

This is the art of the future, not the art of the past.  The cultural mandate may originate in the past, but it speaks of our future; of revealing the potential placed within Creation and awaiting the spiritual artist to (re)discover – whether with charcoal, pencil, oil pigment, words, light, movement or sound.  The visionary helps people see the potential in Creation and in others; cultivating well-being, peace and love.

Peace and Love to you all,

Geoffx

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