Posts Tagged “art”

I’ve just spent a few days at college considering play and creativity in the context of church. I have lots of notes and thoughts, but the one that has stuck with me is about space to play and create art.

Play is at the centre of creativity.


Play is about trying things out.  It’s about testing ideas, positions, opinions and options by imagining what they would be like without committing to them.  Art then, at least partly, capturing what you discover as you play.  This process of imagining something then making it if  done reflectively can be a spiritual practice.

That must surely begin with a playful attitude, the expectation that church is a place that encourages and enables play and art and creativity.  And that means you!  Yes, YOU!

So, how do we create both the expectation and the space for our churches and communities to be creative places?

I don’t think it’s accidental that Messy Church and Godly Play have been two of the most successful things to happen to the church for years.  Why?  Because they centre around play.  Spill the Beans works in a similar way because it centres on story, a playful and imaginative exploration of an incident or idea.

The strength of these approaches is perhaps that they don’t expect masterpieces, just that you take part and see what happens.

That your contribution is valued and valid…

no matter what your art teacher told you at school.

I’m fed up with church being about finding the one, correct answer.  The idea that a parable has one right, correct and universal meaning is just nonsense.  They are stories designed to make us think, imagine, test, explore and create meaning.  So, how else can we explore these meanings except by play and art?

The kingdom of God is like…

Imagine is the kingdom of God is like…

‘is like’ is an invitation to imagine.

What if it is like:

a seed

a man in a field

a box of treasure

a prodigal son

a vineyard

or whatever else we are invited to imagine.

How does that playful, fun, imaginative engagement help us to understand more about God, life and each other?

If that’s no the point of church what is?

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Another brilliant TED talk… this time from Chris Jordan who shows his fantastic art which depicts some shocking statistics.  What I liked most about this talk was his passion about highlighting our lack of a sense of anger and outrage about some of the horrific things happening today.

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It’s the school holidays in our part of the world and for some Indiana Jones related culture we visited The Burrell Collection in Glasgow to look at the excellent collections from Egypt, Rome, Greece and Asia.

One thing that struck me was this:

Mary Magdalene

The statue shows Mary Magdalene with the jar of perfume that she was to anoint Jesus’ head with.

The thing is… it was Mary of Bethany that anointed Jesus.  They were not the same person.  Isn’t it amazing how popular misconceptions become so ingrained in cultural understanding?

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When The Song of Angels Is Stilled –  Howard Thurman

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

HT Sue

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ASBO Jesus strikes again!


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I met with an old friend (as in someone I’ve been friends with for ages not that he is old) I haven’t seen in years today.  Clive was a student of mine, then a colleague for a while, then someone who’s band I booked and told people about and then we lost touch.  Facebook to the rescue!

We met, interestingly, at Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art.  I say interestingly because Clive now works for UCCF working with students around issues of art and theology and culture.  We got talking about the Christian artistic ghetto and the oddity that is contemporary christian music (CCM).

I have to say I’ve never understood CCM.  It is a niche marketing ploy as far as I’m concerned, usually by people who aren’t good enough to cut it in the real music business.  Harsh?  I don’t think so.

Why do ‘Christian’ artists, not just musicians but lots of artists too, feel the need to explain their work?  Surely as soon as you start to explain art it looses some of it’s transcendent quality.  Surely if art is too obvious it becomes bland and less than engaging.

There are some great artists out there who have faith and live in the world and write, sing and paint their world without sticking a fish or a cross on everything so people know it is ok to buy it.  I like to think.  I like to be drawn in, challenged, moved and engaged by art.  That is what art is for.  If it does any of those things then surely that is good art and it will speak to me of God because God is in the world that art depicts.

And Edinburgh… when will you stop charging for entry to galleries?  Art is for everyone and we have paid for it already through our taxes!  Follow Glasgow and London and make entry FREE!

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