Wednesday, March 16, 2005

worship - collective creativity?

i've been trying to figure out the place of images/art in church all this time.
Biblically it seems that art (craft) was used for glorifying God by the construction of the temple. There is also prophets (performance artists?) and musicians (psalms). Then there are stories/parables told by Jesus - but this was unique to Him - was it not? The disciples did not do the same... they tried to clarify in simple language the things Jesus conveyed, so maybe we can't look to that example. (And we're still trying to make sense of what they were on about!)

At what point does art cross the line into advertising? If it is to make us 'relevant' to the culture around us... then it is not an act of worship but of fitting in. Like making church 'cool' or 'relevant'... thereby implying that the Christian gospel is uncool or irrelevant. This is not to hold any version of church over another... different forms of church in different eras made their attempts to be relevant and then clung to them for many years after the fad had past.

in fact... the thing Jesus did do to bring personal relevance to was to talk to individuals. He was relevant not to their lifestyle but to their life, and radically redefined their lifestyle by his words and example. Relationship = relevancy.

so where does that leave us with the art? in the old testament?

worship is showing worth.
worship is creative response to creator - a showing of gratitude?
so we all sing together. collective creative act.

what about alt.worship? is it temple adornment?
coz the temple seems to have passed when the curtain tore... God "released" into the world, not pop culture brought into church...

is it for the experience?
as we know, the experience of a rave/concert/museum/art gallery can be an ecstatic experience.
and experience is the hottest commodity right now.
All these things, as well as the charismatic/spiritual/transcendant can all be simulated.
Image becomes simulation becomes simulacra. Replacement of God by the images.
God doesn't exist... only the images ever existed.

the burning man strategy:
build something huge and then burn it.
the act of creativity is the act of worship.
The thing at the end can become an object of worship,
so it must not exist.
the moment has passed. no time for attachment, sentimentality or idolatry.
the sacrifice...
I'm not pretending that burning man is Christian,
but that the basic idea of what they do seems like a good idea.
(without the over the top hedonism)
Completely unrestrained creativity... Glorifying God.
Imagine if our Christian festivals/lives were as free as that... (but redemptively).

this is by no means a complete picture, or argument... just what's going on in my head right now.


jonnyjpg said...

i'm wresseling with similar thoughts at the moment. so good to hear someone elses thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...

I really like your comparison of burning man to worship, but in realation to the line were christian art becomes a consumer product or "adrvitisment" as you put it, could there not be a creative streem that circomvents pop-culture with christian art constructs that are deemed worthy of only the elete, educated few?