I’d like to know if you can tell where this header (orange sky-scape) photo was taken.
First to guess it right gets a treat.
I’d like to know if you can tell where this header (orange sky-scape) photo was taken.
First to guess it right gets a treat.
This year, the Christian calendar begins November 28th. It is the Season of Advent.
Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and many mainline churches observe the Christian calendar. The topic for each Sunday is predictable. Scripture from the lectionary guides the themes, liturgy, sermon, art, and music of that particular time. Traditional? Yes. Useful? I do believe it is.
It provides congruence. Most Evangelical pastors are accustomed to, more or less, speaking about what’s been on their mind recently. This is carefully referred to as “what God has laid on their heart.” (And you’d be a fool to question the movement of the Spirit, right? Maybe a fool, or maybe a blasphemer…if you spoke your thoughts.)
In general, it’s not a terrible thing to follow the leading of the Spirit. (If that is truly what is happening. But, that’s another post entirely!) But does this unformatted contemporary formula help cinch together the Story of God, the Christian Story, and bring a cohesive message of the Gospel, in history and depth, in a palpably connected way? Or, is the shoot from the Holy hip often more of a “bang here and a bit there,” approach?
I’d like to hear your take on it?
I tend to think a healthy mix of several Christian traditions could be very spiritually useful in contemporary times. We are already malnourished on a sound bite way of life as is it.
Chaplain Mike, a one-time Southern Baptist preacher, who blogs at imonk does the whole topic much more justice than I can. I strongly encourage you to link to his specific post with the link at the bottom, if you’d like.
Witness this poignant quote found there:
(It really hit home with regards to my Christian church experiences.)
“Part of the problem is that evangelicals really don’t have traditions,” said Carter. “Instead, we have these fads that are built on the strengths and talents of individual leaders. … But a real tradition can be handed on to anyone, from generation to generation. It’s hard to hand these evangelical fads down like that, so it seems like we’re always starting over. It’s hard to build something that really lasts.”– Joe Carter as quoted by Terry Mattingly
My main resource for this post and a really helpful article is here at imonk. It is most helpful for Evangelicals, and I challenge you to consider a deeper appreciation for the Christian calendar year, starting this Sunday, November 28th.
Thank you for reading.
I invited Shane to post here, chiefly because I feel a kinship to Shane. The artist and the spiritual formation learner I am jives so nicely with Shane’s outlook, and what he does as his life’s work. Writers, artist, thinkers, creatives, musicians, and so forth bring vital perspective to Christian Spirituality, and walking with God. Shane tends to this group, which is not an easy task.
Who is SHANE TUCKER?
Shane lived in Ireland for eleven years with his wife, two daughters and son. Now, he serves as Creative Director for ‘Dreamers of the Day‘ [www.dreamtoday.org] – a network utilizing the arts, spiritual disciplines, evocative messengers, and symposiums to engage people in their journey with Christ. He is passionate about seeing people live into their purpose in life, and he finds applications for that as a ‘soul friend’ (spiritual director) via Soul Friend (www.ArtistSoulFriend.com). He can be reached via either website or at shane dot tucker at gmail dot com.
Please enjoy Shane’s post, and feel free to offer your insights, comments, or questions.
by Shane Tucker
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
We have an innate quality to notice beauty at every turn. To know that something is ugly or unattractive we must, of course, know that true beauty exists . . and in some way, to have experienced it. We resonate most strongly with that which seems to offer wholeness or a sense of completeness to our lives. That resonance may also be experienced as a deep hunger. Seldom do we know ourselves well enough to be able to express those yearnings in a coherent fashion. Itʼs in those times we need a bridge – something enabling us to connect, to integrate disparate elements into a whole. . . into a sense of being whole.
Art – any method or medium of creativity – can often serve as this necessary bridge, this connection, between what we know and what we long or yearn to know. Art gives us the tools, the words, the motion to live into what we sense is already there, but as of yet remains unseen. In this sense, art itself is a means by which we find ourselves by moving beyond ourselves. Through art (the highest sort) we are transported into places and spaces where we can lose ourselves. Itʼs a gift to be fully present to, and fully absorbed into, a situation or individual where weʼve forgotten to be concerned with our own desires or even aware of our image before others. Iʼve had a few experiences like this directly and by extension.
One of those experiences occurred three summers ago while I was attending a festival of creativity in middle England. I sought out a band I wanted to become acquainted with and unexpectedly, during their set I was in continual awe. Through their skillful use of music and visual elements, I was caught up in the moment and I forgot myself. Classic. Iʼve had similar experiences standing on green, broad, bald hilltops around Ireland as I drank in the arresting landscape around me. Another example are Christmas mornings since my three children arrived on the scene. Experiencing the uninhibited enthusiasm and joy demonstrated by these little people as they open gifts and share their excitement with the family – these are moments of pure bliss.
In times such as these we are given the gift of losing ourselves . . more specifically, concern for ourselves. The end, however, is not the experience of forgetting oneself in beauty, wonder, and awe; or even that of knowing a deep resonance which affords us the equivalent of tonal tonic through lifeʼs journey. Itʼs knowing Him. I hear, see, touch, taste and feel the Creator in this God-saturated existence called life. Heʼs made Himself ever- present in the created order and ever-accessible. He has, in fact, painted Himself into the portrait, written Himself into the narrative and sung Himself into our lives – even into existence, in Jesus Christ. When we recognize His overtures of love, our moment is to respond whole-heartedly, in trust, recklessly abandoned. In His hands, we then become the artwork by which He invites others to lose and find themselves in Love.
“Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25
Thank you, Shane.
Mark Driscoll is gay? Don’t kill the messenger…I didn’t come up with this.
You can find a pretty solid case here, compiled from his friend Don Miller, who–years ago–coined him, “the cussing pastor” in his best-selling book Blue Like Jazz. (When I say “case”…I mean Donald seems to describe Driscoll, in embarrassing detail, right along with [other] male leaders with gay scandals. Maybe it’s a connect-the-dots, or connect the nipples kind of thing.)
AND-gosh-don’t get me started on John Eldredge!
Over-compensate much, Mark?
- “There is a strong drift toward the hard theological left. Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” –Mark Driscoll 
(There’s a common theme of guy-on-guy fights/violence with Driscoll. You may remember he showed, the hot and sweaty brawl movie “Fight Club” as an official church event. Hum.)
Mark, if you’re reading this, you can stop over-doing it to throw us off track. Don and I both realize you’ve painted yourself into a corner, Mark. The gig is up, dude.
Nevertheless. IF Driscoll was gay, we would love him anyway. Right, everyone?
(If you support Mark, no matter what, click the share button at the bottom. If you’re not a fan, um. do the same thing. If you think Mark could NOT be gay, click the share button–Twice.)
And, Don, thanks for bringing up the issue. Where would we be without you? Just in IgnorantVille, I guess.
As a reader, what do you think? There’s a punchline in here somewhere. Can you spot it?
Is Mark Driscoll too overtly macho, and (like recent pastors caught in self-created sexual hypocrisy -Eddie Long and Ted Haggard), too anti-gay to be straight?
Am I joking about Driscoll? Sure. I’m a humorist. (See subheading of this blog.) Despite loads of circumstantial evidence, and the writing stylings of Don Miller, Mark’s certain proclivity could remain a mystery, much like Theodicy, or atonement theories. This is all probably just a loooong series of coincidences. If Mark is gay, or tempted with homosexual thoughts or feelings, I’m sure we could trust that he’d just open up and tell us–straight out. Um. I mean, well, you know. Right? Right?
I’m researching gatehouses and “doors within doors”. It’s fascinating! England was sure fortified back-in-the-day!
Do you see a metaphor when you see this visual?
What are your thoughts or perspective?
(This is no quiz; there are no right answers. Just looking for your take on this visual)
The visual/sense I got from this door image was unexpected. The metaphor was of the big door being too hefty to push open, but the small door–the less grand–the meager entry point is the truest way in. It’s the humble door, and going inside will require a blow to the pride, or be what some would considered undignified. For growth and progress, the small door is needed. We don’t have the strength for the huge one, but a way is provided for us,–if we can get to the point of seeing it.
I ❤ (heart) knitting hooligans. It’s just so random. So…beautifully joyous. And it keeps streets lights warm all winter.
OR this is how grannies and librarians (or fine arts fibers majors) get the street cred. and exposure to jump into their own gangs.
It’s known as yarn bombing.
I have a body, you have a body, and…..
we’ve gotten used to God (the Father) having one too. “The Man Upstairs” We’ve heard this dysphemism, right?
This almighty person* of the three-in-one Godhead, who is the center of Reality, is the One Jesus invited us to respectfully, personally, and literally, address as “Dad” in our prayers.
Yep, this is probably why the male depictions crop up. And, it’s not surprising that since God has been around for quite a while (okay. That is hyperbole….it’s been forever and ever) that he would be depicted as elderly. There’s the white hair, wrinkles, and, of course mad skillz at wisdom etched in the contours of his face. He’s usually shown as robed (relaxed fit clothing , perhaps), light-skinned (really huge shock, right? Thanks, Rome.), and bearded. There’s a verse about Jesus having the hair in his beard ripped out, but God the Father having a beard, well, maybe he’s just too busy to shave? Did famous Greek Stoics look like this, so it was a jumping off point for artists? God, so many questions…
AND-Yes, curiously the depictions appear very much like Father Christmas (Santa Claus). If you think about that bit for too long, it will start to get creepy; especially with those holiday songs that include lines, “he sees you when your sleeping…” and such.
Here’s the part where I pop the fantasy bubble, like it or not.
God is not a man.
God does not have a body.
“He” isn’t “upstairs”.
That deity in art, and in our minds, looks like a human, and acts as such. It’s human created. The street term sadly, I’m sorry to say, this is, an idol. There, I said it.
More importantly to our spiritual growth, those types of pictures of God are bitty and short-changed. God does not have body parts, or biology to make God one or another gender. Jesus, and others may say “he” for God because it is a term of relationship. It is a gift of grace, goodness, and love toward us (as children) that no human father can accomplish perfectly well. But God can. God displays qualities most often distinctive to both genders respectively, and in perfection and holiness.
God is everywhere. Let’s just try to wrap our brains around this a bit, because we are not at all everywhere. I’ll just repeat it: God is everywhere. This is one big benefit a Spirit Being has, someone like “the man upstairs” is only, well, upstairs. And sometimes downstairs, but not both at the same time. This is where Deism is straight out against the Trinitarian percepts of the Bible. Deism, separates God from his creation: God-The Watchmaker. Distant, Aloof. It’s just dead wrong, because Jesus called him Father, and invited us to do so, too.
To perform an act of God in the flesh (in human form) Perfect God needed a body. So, yes, God incarnated a real human body to heal and redeem humans, body and spirit.
That incarnation: Jesus, the Anointed One.
The Holy Spirit, also a full member of the three-in-one Godhead (not just a pale bird in flight above a placid, pasty, bearded white guy often seen in artistic depictions), is the full power of God that is with us who receive God and Jesus. This Being, works on us to teach us, and transform us into Jesus’ character, what we call “Christ-likeness”.
In a recent survey, Two out of Three members of the Trinity prefer being body-free.
From Jesus, written by John in Chapter 4. Verse 23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
*(person here does not signify a human person (i.e. human individual), but instead, one with a personality. personality |ˌpərsəˈnalitē|noun ( pl. -ties)1 the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character)
Now it’s your turn.
Like me, have you ever thought of God the Father as a man? Or an old man in the sky?
Or a Being with a body?
How do you image God?
Which artistic depiction of God (shown above) do you find the strangest, or most fascinating?
All Comments welcome.