Translating the Invisible Wind – Part Four

by Geoff Hall on May 4, 2010

Collaboration:
Or, ‘Hey, I forgot, there is an easier way’.

We can continue following the secularised cultural values of individualism and its bi-polar counterpart Social Darwinism!  (A Freedom/Nature dualism in irresolvable tension – if you like that kind of philosophical speak.)  We can continue our commitment to Christendom, even if that bird has flown – for there is nothing like faithfulness to a dying cause.  Collaboration is at odds with any commitment to transformation.  In Romans 12, Paul calls for not only the renewal of the mind, but the transformation of Creation.  Colossians 1 points us to the truth that Christ died for the whole of Creation, not just to help our immortal souls get a free-ticket to heaven!  If you want escapism go to Disneyworld, where Walt has died to make an escape from reality possible.  Where Mickey and Minnie Mouse will greet you at the pearly gates and not Saint Peter.  Where you raise your hands not in adulation, but in fear, as you move around the roller-coaster ride!  Where whole families can be what they were meant to be: happy consumers, for nothing brings a family together more than a good shopping spree.  The family that pays together stays together!

Collaborators use the tools of the occupying forces; follow their methods, symbols & forms and generally blend in, rather than subvert those things.  Resistance isn’t achieved by trying to isolate ourselves in a christian ghetto; it is through ‘non-cooperation with evil’ not the evasion of evil that resistance occurs.  Applying salt to the wounds of society may appear less a commitment than shouting the gospel at passers-by, but it is in losing the visibility of the salt, that the salt really works and transforms the taste of things to come.  Leaven (yeast) isn’t added measure for measure, but in small amounts to make the dough rise!  Resurrection!  Enough said?

When churches resemble Disneyworld for their escapism; conforming to the status quo, by offering spiritual consumerism as worship.  When individualism is seen as integral of discipleship and community is a pejorative word, only valued by types we are suspicious of, because of their perceived ‘socialist’ leanings; then we collaborate with the prevailing cultural spirit.  When our thoughts of creation, fall and redemption are sustained by synthetic means, i.e. by adding a little evolutionism, rationalism, spiritualism, humanism or conservatism, we have collaborated.

When our art is hidden safely in churches – sometimes wisely – and is at best a form of kitsch (superficial, emotional or just plain bad), when we follow a post-modern nihilistic agenda (or aesthetic philosophy) by turning a blind eye to its roots in communist, atheistic deconstructive philosophy and think it is cool because we can belong to an elite club (cabal); then we have collaborated.  When our art offers a prudish view of life enforced by conservatism; then we have collaborated.  As Hans Rookmaaker has written,

“Christians should never be conservative simply for the sake of conformity, of conserving the established order for its own sake. We must be critical.”

From the Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker:  Vol.5 ‘Modern Art and the Death of a Culture.  p.158 Published by Piquant Editions, 2003.

2 comments

Thank you for your summary of Colossians 1 as 'Christ died for the whole of creation' – yours is the only blog on the net to use this phrase, according to Google. As artists we are committed to transformation of Creation, and Colossians 1:19 affirms that our art itself is reconciled to God by Christ's work, however unsatisfactory it may be, and Romans 8:22 (I think you mean that, not Romans 12?) shows our creations as groaning and frustrated as they long to be set free. Our imperfect works are there on the cross and one day will be made perfect when God makes a new heaven and a new earth.
John Lovatt (liturgist, writer about the theology of things)

by hotel.babylon on May 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm. Reply #

Hi John,

Thanks for your comments. I'm surprised that this is the only blog which states 'Christ died for the whole of Creation'. I thought there would be a least some reformational types who would expound similar things. I like your description of your activities by the way, as a 'writer about the theology of things'! Beautifully put.

Whilst Romans 8v22 is a very poignant verse for the artist who seeks transformation, (as we ourselves are part of the groaning), what I'm getting at by referring to Romans 12, is Paul's concern for the renewal of the mind and the transformation of 'things', which as far as I've been taught and understand from my own studies infers that internal renewal leads to outer transformation.

This reminds me of what Bonhoeffer wrote when he said 'don't try and change the world, but firstly change the world in you'. (Paraphrased of course)

Peace,

Geoff

by geoffh on May 5, 2010 at 7:40 pm. Reply #

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