Bono Wants Your Soul…

Bono wants to know where your soul is this year.

I come to lowly church halls and lofty cathedrals for what purpose? I search the Scriptures to what end? To check my head? My heart? No, my soul. For me these meditations are like a plumb line dropped by a master builder — to see if the walls are straight or crooked. I check my emotional life with music, my intellectual life with writing, but religion is where I soul-search.

The preacher said, “What good does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Hearing this, every one of the pilgrims gathered in the room asked, “Is it me, Lord?” In America, in Europe, people are asking, “Is it us?”

Well, yes. It is us.–READ MORE HERE.

God is Dead

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?–Friedrich Nietzsche

There is no Sovereign holding the “whole world in his hands.” There is no longer any kind and benevolent Maker to encourage us towards a prophetic imagination. The Prince of Peace could not survive the ravages of war and blood and dirt.  There is no one listening on the other side of our prayers. There are no answers that will come if we just wait a little longer; no yes, or no, or maybe to emerge in a few moments.  God’s provision is gone.  God’s goodness is not there.  There is no hopeful tomorrow to pine after. No messiah coming again, for he has already come and look what we have done to him.  God is dead.  God is dead. God is dead.

But we are living still.  How then shall we live on this Good Friday?  Shall we sink into less than who God created us to be? Will we, in the presence of God have become mature adults, and in the death of God shrink backwards into spiritually retarded children?  Or will commit our essence into His hands even as he has forsaken us? Must we now become what you made us to be–fully grown sons and daughters of God?

God. Thank you for dying.  Thank you for forsaking us. Thank you for keeping your part of the promise and allowing us to, at last, grow up.  Today, We celebrate your death.

The tensions of creativity

Here’s another reason why the church is like art and should be approached by people willing to think of themselves like artists:

Form vs. Flow

There is a struggle at the heart of every person to both live within a form and break out of it–to burst over the banks and crash through the walls into something new.  This is vividly portrayed in art.  An artist will spend years developing the ability to speak through a certain medium, develop a style, hone their craft. It’s appropriate. They realize that flitting from form to form is disastrous–it ends with an inability to actually communicate what they feel and what they wish to portray.  Eventually they come to realize that they need form.  However, there are those moments when all the paints get thrown out. All the old colors are cast aside. The canvas is exchanged for the brick wall, etc…  In other words their own creativity, the desire to birth something new can no longer live within the old and well developed form.  So they strike out. They discover diversity and a meaningful difference.  Some would be tempted to say that they no longer need form or use it. But the truth is, they’ve just changed forms.  Even abstract painters or modern instillation creators are still inhabiting a particular place.

This is true of church.  We invest ourselves in a place. We throw ourselves into a particular aspect of God or each other and experience it fully.  Eventually though this changes. We struggle with what had previously been functional and now just feels like formula.  Then we “blow it up”. We go back to the drawing board. it’s tempting, in that deconstructive and reconstructive phase, to think that we are tossing aside all form. The reality is that we are simply exchanging.  We’re adapting. We’re being provoked. We’re investing in a different medium. 

I believe there has to be a tension and a truce struck between inconoclasts/puritans who would shatter every idol (save the idol of shattering every idol), and those who cling to their distinct channels of worship.  The truth is that we need both. There are two giftings at work here–prophet and priest.  One calls out authentic truth and the other ministers through symbol and sacrifice.  This leads to another similarity:

Discipline vs. Spontenaity

Most artists I know have both a rebel and a dictator vying for control of their soul ;)  And that’s a positive thing.  On one hand there is the side of them that can be in the middle of conversation, then suddenly inspired runs to a wall and starts painting in a frenzy, mad vibrant colors.  That’s pure spontenaity.  You can’t restrain that kind of lightening strike, nor can you replicate it.  But then there are the dry spaces…the times when you just don’t want to get out of bed.  In those moments the dictator comes out and in spite of lack of inspiration you go and do what you have always done. You paint. You draw. You write. You sculpt. You create even when you’re uncreative. And then lightening strikes again.

The church is like this. My experience with church life is that it can be a constant war between those who long for spontenaity and those who want order or organization. But this needn’t be a war. We need both. One gives life to other in an infinte circle. We need to room to feel like its ok to dash away from what we were planning on doing. But we also need to plan on doing something so that we’re in the right spot at the right time.  Faith practice gives birth to faith experience.  There is a healthy balance.

At the end of the day creativity/art and church share the same dynamic tensions. Rather than casting one side out and only holding on to the part that makes sense to this moment, we embrace both and live in that tension. That itself is an act of creative empowerment.

groaning the Lord’s Prayer

Father of the unknowable and the unutterable—creator of Beauty and justice/mercy and Truth

YHWH we groan for your good dream to come! (groan)

Dweller in heavenly temples shrouded behind the veil in unseen darkness—You, whose Light shines brighter than Light—Inhabitant of all that is Real and Good, Filler of effulgent Love and ineffable Peace

YHWH we groan for your good dream to come! (groan)

You heard the cries of the oppressed and the exploited in the brickyards of Egypt and overturned an empire to bring them to yourself in perfect Freedom. You brought high walls of established governments to the ground at a shout by those who needed to be reminded to “fear not”. You led men who looked like grasshoppers in comparison to the 10’ giants they faced to victory using only stone and sling. You lifted and up and tore down. You send out and you bring back. You tear down and you lift up!

YHWH we groan for your good dream to come! (groan)

Your reign of love which leaves no one hungry—where no one has surplus and one have lack, your Abba’s heart that all would enter into gentle, compassionate, restored relationship with fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, neighbors and enemy until there is no longer any enemy but Death itself—oh death where is your sting?

YHWH we groan for your good dream to come! (groan)

We hunger for bread from heaven and then long to be satisfied with the choicest of wines—experiencing your enjoyment, newness and wine-skin bursting Life.

We acknowledge our emptiness, our lack of resourcefulness, our inability to imagine your kingdom come—we forgive ourselves…and then apply the same generosity to those around us who leave us feeling slighted, wronged, or annoyed…we extend the grace that you have extended to us.

Even though temptation comes and the fierce adversaries of affluence, complacency, laziness, and judgment battle against us—we fear no evil…oh Abba…Abba Father…

Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and Glory Forever and ever…

YHWH we groan for your good dream to come on earth as it is in heaven…Amen