Pro-creation – Co-creation

by Geoff Hall on July 29, 2016

July 2016 – Pro-creation – Co-creation

Salt, yeast and mustard seed.

rp_The-Group-logo-13.jpgOur work is likened to some earthly things, elements that transform the very substance they are added to.


The trick to the efficacy of these elements is that they need to added to part of something bigger; part of a meal, or planted in a garden.


Sub-cultural spirituality removes us from this bigger context, because it is deemed to threaten the distinct elemental identity, which needs to be preserved at all costs. Artistically, this spirituality is removed from the mainstream cultural flow and so the fruitfulness of our work never materialises, to transform this world.


These elemental things need to be, and play a part in, the mainstream because that is where God is busily at work; the God of the whole of life and not just the part of life that we can control with the right words, theology, symbols or rituals.


Salt, yeast and a mustard seed do not need to be special, sanctified ingredients, somehow, mystically bearing the image of Jesus before they are added to the other mundane stuff of life. (Symbolism ‘ad nauseam’).

Jesus Potato Chip

Jesus Potato Chip

They just need to be what they were created to be. To be music, poetry, art, dance, film, theatre, or literature and mixed in the whole batch of contemporary culture. This will inevitably lead to a loss of their distinctive (primary) identity so that it can transform the meal, the bread, the garden. For the dough to rise it needs the yeast, but its measure cannot be the same as the dough. It needs but a little. (According to Google – for 500 grams of flour, use about 2.5 grams of yeast). Nor do we need a genetically modified super mustard seed, for it to grow big enough so that the birds of the air can rest on its branches. All we need is the ‘smallest of seeds’ and the endurance to wait for it to grow to such a bird resting state. This is not the art of the quick fix or instant gratification.


The sub-culture demands a fixed identity; fixed by rituals, the right words or symbols so that we know it has integrity. But, just as we need to lose our life to find it, so we need to lose our sub-cultural identity, to find our true nature and calling. Preservation may sound like a good thing, but when it’s attempted so that we can protect what we value most through isolation, this then moves us towards nostalgia and sentiment; and sentiment gives rise to kitsch.

The Head of Christ, by Warner Sallman, 1941.

The Head of Christ, by Warner Sallman, 1941.

Warner Sallman’s ‘Head of Christ’ springs to mind, with its idealised, Western Jesus along with the hidden symbolism of the Host (forehead) and the Chalice (temple).


So, as we gambol on towards Christmas (ahem), where we are taught the power of our incarnational nature, let’s take a moment to check out where we are culturally located; in the mainstream, where the heartbeat of God is to be found, or the sub-cultural rivulet where we curate a collection of recordings of the aforementioned heartbeat, from times of yore, and bask in the reflected glory of past victories.


Here’s the big question. Is the art we are making based on nostalgic yearning and sanctified symbolism, or as Walter Brueggemann put it,

“To speak metaphorically but concretely about the real deathliness that hovers over us and gnaws within us, and to speak neither with rage nor with cheap grace, but with the candour born of anguish and passion.” [The Prophetic Imagination, p45].

The human cost of famine.

The human cost of famine.


I know where I’m headed…and it’s taking quite some time.



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