Translating the Invisible Wind – Part Three

by Geoff Hall on April 26, 2010

Resistance?

Let’s call it the spirituality of resistance, before we get any ideas that people will be swayed by the message of Jesus through force of arms or cunningly placed ‘devices’ by the roadside and further augmented by the sophistry of a theology of terrorism!

What irritated the political and religious authorities about Jesus?  How about this: His ‘influence’ and ‘authority’ with the people.  This is not institutional authority, but the authority, the power to communicate through storytelling; to hold the attention, to capture the imagination of the people.  Here it is important to point out Jesus’ teaching on what I believe could be the personal discipling of Simon the Zealot and the now lost-in-translation instruction, to ‘turn the other cheek’.  This is not a call to act as a doormat, but for non-cooperation with evil, no better taught in modern times than by Martin Luther King, which in the context of this piece is mediated through the arts.

Institutions can’t do that, they tend not to tell stories, but enforce the party-line through propaganda, sound bites for new policy or a new vision. It is a relationship based on inequality, wherein freedom is communicated through doctrines of social cohesion (national unity).  Cohesion works if we all believe the same thing, apparently, use the same language & symbols, have the same values of sexuality, spirituality, environment, family and democracy.  After all, these are the superior Western values we wish to export to ‘lesser-developed’ nations; the canon (virus) of Social Darwinism is transmitted to unsuspecting victims!!  However, we tend not to mention the social costs of this model, with its inequalities and erosion of freedom under ‘Equality Bills’ and the like.  PS dear world, our prisons are full, cases of sexually transmitted diseases are growing amongst the young populous of Britain, and prescriptions for pharmaceutical drugs to aid mental health and social wellbeing are on the increase.

420,000 prescriptions issued for ADHD medication to children under the age of 16 in 2007. Use of the drugs for older children has risen more sharply with a 51 per cent rise in prescriptions to reach more than 40,000 in 2007.  More than 113,000 prescriptions were issued for antidepressants to children under 16.  The data also revealed that more than 86,000 prescriptions were written for anti-psychotics, sometimes referred to as chemical coshes, for children under the age of 18.  An increase in prescriptions of just over 15 per cent per year simply tells us that more children with unmet needs are being reached.   [Source: Daily Telegraph, 30 Oct 2009. Data gained through Freedom of Information Act.]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” I would contend that the Secular-Humanist Project has failed, with millions massacred in the last century and the growing problems in our children with this ‘new’ but not renewed, millennium. Post-modernism is simply the death-throw of a dying way of life.  What are we saying about this?  Do we engage with this in our art?  Or is it still about me and my faith, my feelings and my outlook on life?  Holy Water chilled with the ice cube of rationality?  Are we offering a different way of loving life in all its Creation Glory, are we a credible alternative for living in this world, or just offering people another means of escape?

So, dear artist, forget about the art of self-infatuation, or the symbols of a bygone age.  Resistance is not futile; it is at the root of Christ’s teachings on the Kingdom of God; of salt, light and yeast.  Give yourself to the service of other artists and not to an institution of propaganda.  Give yourself to the service of others and not to ‘finding yourself’ down the rabbit hole of escapism.  Give yourself to the Christ who was at ease outside of the institution, because Creation-Living is a sacrament.

In the next part of this article, we’ll be looking at Culural Collaboration, as opposed to Resistance.

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