Sunday, June 20, 2010

Journal - June 21 2010

Really don't have anything to write about. Of course that's a load of bull, I can write most days about absolutely nothing for hours on end. I always have things which pop up to think about and wonder about. Usually its what's happened at school or what I have next to speak about at church. I've done that and now I am waiting till the art exam on Wednesday, so yeah just sitting around reading the class notes, looking at the works of art that were used. To do this without using the internet I got 2 books out of the library. One of them being Sister Wendy's Grand Tour which is absolutely wonderful, she is effusive and detailed in the history and context of the works of the great artists. Have a look.

The other book is the complete opposite This is Modern Art with Mathew Collings.

This series explores what has lead to what is now modern art. Of course the art is different but context and story behind the art and artists is somehow similar. Collings passion is restrained and subdued in contrast to Sister Wendy's love and enthusiasm and that leads me to think about the difference between the two ages.

For this we need to watch some Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer's wonderful series "How should we then live?" holds some real gems and this one is an explanation of the development of thought that leads us from Sister Wendy's art to Collings. Basically there is a hopelessness in human thinking a despair which leads to the decay in beauty and truth.

I wonder if the modern artists are trying to get to that place of beauty but cannot get there and in desperation grab hold of anything. So to this we have Warhol who eschews his entire person for some vapid famous genius. There is nothing to hold onto but the vapours of fame and the icons of the age. As Schaeffer says there is no hope and no reason, man is just a machine. There is no real beauty. But we look at the works on Sister Wendy's Grand Tour and we recognise the beauty of them but do we understand the context of belief and hope that existed in the artists who made them. Back then they had a classical understanding of God and the world and Mankind as a created being. God existed and beauty was possible, truth was possible and the art was stunning. Now the art is still stunning but rarely is it beautiful and true.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Journal - June 18 2010

Back again after 2 days off, I should be writing this every day but not everyday lends itself to journal writing. Went to the centrelink on wednesday. For those not familiar with the Australian unemployment system centrelink is the name used in Oz for unemployment, pensions and benefits. I have spent more then half of my life in and out of the place and I am comfortable with waiting in lines and explaining things to different people 3 or 4 times a day. The best way to deal with it is to bring a book, a book is better than a magazine or a comic because you look intelligent. The worst thing to do is look like you don't want to be there. Well that's not the worst thing to do the worst thing is to get angry and start acting out, when you do that you get treated very poorly. I am not saying that social workers are vindictive its just that if you treat them with respect and realise they have to deal with multiple cases over and hour they will respect you. Bringing a book is good because it helps pass the time.

What else happened? Not much really I walked a fair bit waiting for things to work out, they worked out I get more money end of story. Oh! that's right there were greeters at centerlink, two people directing traffic all the time. They were good and very helpful centerlink was not like this two years ago. I wonder if they watched the if Starbucks marketed like the church cause that shows up a whole load of wrongs.

I find this video hard to watch as it reminds me of many bad moments in many churches. I also realise that traditional church is all some people have got. But the point is made clearly and without any assumptions or allusions, if this is how you don't do it why do you do it? Well that can be answered by Topol.

And Topol's lines for the Jewish people in Russia could be substituted for most Christian church groups around the world. Tradition is very important without the ties that bind we would be merely a leaf blowing in the wind. If you have seen Fiddler on the Roof then you know that it is this very tradition that is threatened, especially from the daughters choice for husbands. He gives in to the first one and the second but the third crosses a bridge he cannot, marriage with a gentile. Tradition may keep you balanced but it also binds and restricts you to a defined and well known area.

And once again I end up at Mark 2:28 - 3:6 and the restrictions of the sabbath which in the context of Fiddler on the Roof keeps it in the Jewish family. Tevye has his traditions and the love of his daughters allows him to stretch them but not blow them out of all proportion. Its much the same with the first clip of the Starbucks church. Most churches could change and make small steps but not make a leap forward in understanding. What is required of them is to be true to God and his teachings not true to traditions that man has put around the truth that God has revealed to us.

In Mark the Pharisees are shown as being restricted by their traditional understanding of the sabbath. The restrictions they place on the HOLY DAY are binding and laughable at times. Jesus sets them straight that God wishes to set people free from such bondage. Yet what have we Christians have done? Not much better if the Starbucks video is true, which it is.

Where else in our lives have we restricted God to a tradition of our own making? Are our understandings of God so restrictive that He cannot work in our lives? This is something we need to dwell on with seriousness and a caution not to throw out everything and start from scratch. We have to have Christ at the center and hold his teachings utmost but also realise that God is consistent and unchanging. His message and mission have been unchanged from the beginning. Who we praise and worship will never change his teachings on how we are to live our lives are true and always will be. We may need to style it up and package it differently. To step outside our comfort zones once and a while to show we are in the world, but not of the world.

And just for fun here's the classic Matchmaker song.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Journal - June 15 2010

Stuff to do:
Exam next week (study today)
Video Blog to make (ideas about things I want to get rid of in my life)
Watch world cup matches
Watch season one of The A-Team
Ask about chainsaw from the shop
Pay Rent

Better pay the rent.....done

Then there's the exam, its for my arts class: Philosophy of the Creative Arts. Sounds impressive doesn't it, well it is impressive thinking about the place of art, the creation of art, the place of the artist. The history of art and its progression is amazing from cave paintings to the glorious art of the Sistine chapel, the beauty of the impressionists, the risk taking of artists like Dali, Warhol, Duchamp, and the eventual chaos that is modern art is an amazing ride. Yet the thinking that has lead to these developments - or regressions if you think about the constant shock that is modern art - can be charted to the effect of the image and place of God in humanity. In fact the classical thinking about God led to the art of the Sistine chapel, to David yet the foundations of these great works lay in the Greek philosophers and the tools of thinking that we still use today. Kind of funny that is, that Christian thinking has been influenced by the thought patterns and logic of the Greek philosophers. Those of us in the western world still use the same thinking and modes of logic. Which of course leads me to think how different Christianity would be if it went Eastward and not Westward, if the center of Christian thought went away from the Mediterranean and into the Hindus Valley. I cannot imagine such a church but maybe it did exist certain disciples are said to have made it to the Hindus Valley.

That was fun. To begin at art and end up thinking about the possible development of Christianity as an Asian religion and not a Mediterranean one. This is of course not excluding the east from the joys of knowing and living in Christ, no one is excluded from that offer. It is just that what differences and tools would have developed and molded Christian thought and what would have been the big topics. How important would have the two natures of Christ have been? Would the Cross been a symbol of power and authority? Would the creedal language have developed at all? Would there have been dogma and confessions of faith? What would have the images of Jesus have looked like?

To realise that the way we see Jesus, art, God, life have been from the influences of a few Greek guys over 2000 years ago is actually quite scary. I don't know Plato and Aristotle from Adam yet their thoughts are still being taught today. I am not sure how happy I am with this, that my thoughts are influenced by those so many years hence. However I try I am never going to get outside of the influence of those who came before me, even if I succeed in losing the influence of all humanity I am still going to be influenced by God. No one can escape the influence of the Creator God a piece of art cannot exist without its maker artist. So I am always under the influence of someone whether it is humans or God. We are from what has come before, you cannot have Michelangelo without cave painting, what has been before even if it is considered worthless still has its influence on us. No escape, can't run from it, so then we better use it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Journal - June 14 2010

Woke up real early, watched the Socceroos get pumped by Germany, went back to bed. That's all I really want to say about today. Of course I wont just say that only, I can't stop talking and typing and talking aren't that far apart. The thing I am missing right now is the discipline of learning. It hasn't even been a week and I am missing the Liberal Christian Arts College I go to. I have a book on the dialogue between Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Barth. I was reading it two days straight when I was in the air of college and now I am at home for four days straight I haven't opened it at all.

I like this book, I like the things in it. The push and pull of ideas between Barth and Balthasar over the correct use or misuse of the analogy of being is stunning. The fact that even after Barth has explained his reasons for not accepting the analogy of being (that creation mirrors the creator) Balthasar still continues to find a way to reconcile Barth to the use of it.

Its kind of interesting seeing Balthasar trying to win a Catholic convert in Barth. Its interesting because of the next bit of the Gospel of Mark that I will be speaking on. Its Mark 2:23- 3:6. Okay how does Jesus correcting the Pharisees about their legalistic views on the sabbath? Well it does in the fact that like the Pharisees and pretty much every religion Barth has found a sticking point between himself and the Catholic overuse of the analogy of being. The use of analogy of being was huge it was considered essential to the faith. To Barth it was a horrible thing and he couldn't stand for it to be given such a high regard. Such use of the analogy of being stopped Barth ever seeing himself ever becoming Catholic. A similar point could be made of Luther, Wesley and every other leader who started his own church because others did not hold to the same articles of faith, or ways of mission, or gifts of the spirit.

Its like an episode of The Big Bang Theory with Sheldon being Barth and Leonard being Balthasar (don't ask me who Penny is). Its like when as a six year old I decided that Beatrix Potter was wrong in calling Peter Rabbit's third sister Cottontail. I was adamant that Beatrix Potter had broken the rules of rhyme and it must be - Flopsy, Mopsy and Bopsy. So adamant was I that I named my dog Bopsy.

So adamant were the Pharisees that the sabbath was sacred and holy that the Disciples should not have taken wheat to eat. So holy was the sabbath that Jesus healing a man's withered hand was an absolute outrage. So adamant was Luther that he broke from the Catholic church, the same for Wesley in his split from the Church of England.

So adamant we are when the patterns of our lives are disturbed in ways that are not wrong except that they are not what we see as the right way of doing things. God rested on the sabbath, why? Because he done all he wanted to do, not because it was the sabbath and according to the doctrine of the almighty he had to. Being humans we see patterns and some of these appear regular, solid, dependable, constants. The sun rises and sets, people live and die. But then there are others that we can take as constants. Whose ever had to drive on the other side of the road? That's gotta be disturbing you've driven on the left side of the road all your life and now you have to drive on the other side of the car AND the other side of the road. All of the sudden the pattern is changed what you thought was the way to drive is now something different. Its still driving but it is driving in a whole new way.

Now how are we going to act when God tells us like Jesus did to the Pharisees that we need to change how we live our life with him. That our way of thinking about God is too stiff and rigid that it needs to expand and grow. That our idea of what church is supposed to be is too rigid and we don't see the way he does. That life as a follower of Jesus is not the prosperity you had been promised but that when Jesus says "Take up your cross and follow me" he meant it.

The Pharisees got a shock that day and they responded in anger and fury. How will you respond? With anger, apathy, indifference, defiance. Or will you say to God "Fair Cop" you're right I have been doing this the wrong way. Change is hard and its even harder when we resist please don't resist submit. Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Journal - June 11 2010

Its 2 days in a row now and that's a good thing. I spent yesterday making the first part of what has become a 2 part piece on youtube.

Its about the Christology essay I did, which was on Holy Saturday. You know the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Yeah that day and what did Jesus do on that day?
He could have been playing cards for all most people know. In fact there is not that much written about it at all. Even in the bible there is less written about what Jesus did in the grave than anything else. Which makes any thinking about Holy Saturday a struggle.

What also makes for more problems is the Apostles Creed and the line - "He descended into Hell" - which brings a range of responses. Mostly I don't know or I'm not sure about that. For me it was a complete empty hole of a day and the whole concept of Jesus descending into Hell was something I had never thought of. Of course now I have thought about it, read about it, and have come to a point of understanding that is not heretical but its certainly not traditional.

The traditional understandings are mentioned in the video and are garnered from a couple of verses in the bible (most taken out of context) and the not so well known gospel of Nicodemus. This scant information being embellished into the fantastic and mythical is a main point of those who wont have it. Yet it is such a silent hole in the Easter story that its silence calls to many to work out what is happening. Honestly I hear it calling out to me and its really hard not to think about this everyday now.

The only real advancement beyond the dogma and confessional beliefs of the churches comes from Hans Urs von Balthasar. For Balthasar the silence of Holy Saturday calls out to him to such an extent that he makes it the center of his Christology. Solidarity is the big word for Balthasar, Christ's Solidarity with the living when he is alive and Christ's solidarity with the dead when he is dead. That's where I end the first part, Christ dead in Hell. Which is incredibly confronting and sad, it is hard to think of Jesus the Son of God dead for any moment of time. Yet the solidarity that Balthasar talks of seems true in the way he explains it. It is in the living out of humanity in its fullness and perfection that Jesus is in solidarity with us. This is also true in the death of Jesus as we die and wherever we go after death Jesus goes to the dead.

What arises out of this solidarity with the dead is much the same as his solidarity with the living. It is the same solidarity just in a different point in the Human Trajectory (Birth, Life, Death, Going to the Dead). There is nothing extra added to salvation by Christ going to the place of the dead it is a part of his whole redemption of humanity. No extra salvation is possible because on the Cross "It is finished".

Despite this others have taken Balthasar's solidarity of the dead Christ with the dead to be a salvation for those in the place of the dead with Christ. A salvation that takes up Hell into Heaven so all is redeemed, this is called Universalism and its got it wrong. The unfortunate thing about such a false hope is that they haven't seen the consistency of the exclusive/inclusive offer of salvation. Not all of those who live are saved by Christ's solidarity with the living only those who decide to admit, submit and follow Christ. It is not Christ's solidarity with those dead with him, it is Christ's solidarity with those who are DEAD IN CHRIST. There is time to make our decision while alive after live there is no second chance. The unfortunate result of this is that those we knew who have passed away without deciding for Jesus is that they are lost.

When you strip away the veil of myth and fantastic there is actually more to Holy Saturday than an action movie. We have God in the form of Jesus dead in the place of the dead, in our place. Redeeming us from the righteous punishment that we deserve. He is silent and passive just like the rest of the dead, yet his preaching is his witness that here in the depths of dispair God has come to put everything right again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Journal - Online edition June 10 2010

Thought I would use this blog again as a place to begin journaling online. Not because I have a huge ego and require the world to see my thoughts because they are amazing and important - because I do have a big ego and what I have to say is amazing and important to the world. Ego aside... Having woken up on the first day of what is the mid-semester break from the liberal not so conservative Christian Arts College that I attend. I need to begin what I see as essential disciplines required to survive the break.

Last year I got through my first semester and I just dropped out emotionally, socially and spiritually. Physically I was fine I kept playing Soccer, but outside of that I isolated myself like the UNA bomber. I kept to myself and barely saw anyone at all for the first half of those eight weeks, yeah 8 weeks. So this mid-semester break things are going to have to be different cause I am not going back to that again. The key to this is accountability and making sure that friends and family know what happened and working out what activities I should be doing on a daily basis. Journalling or blogging here is a start.

What else can I do to stop bottoming out? Well I have a small cache of canvass frames ready to be painted on which is a start. The unfortunate thing about that is that its winter here in Australia, and I haven not yet found a place to paint. "Do it inside." I hear you say. Well, with a rented house and a very messy painting style that uses aerosol spray cans I do not see the landlady being all that happy. Reading - now that is a good idea and I do have a small supply of books that I want to read, but TV gets in the way of that sometimes. Movies that I missed? maybe not everyday but if I make one night movie night then and invite people over that would be a great idea.

Work? Well that is good to and if it pops up then great. Youtube videos on the theology that I have learned this semester would be a great thing and I have already proven I can make a 2-3 minute youtube video. I have a possible collaborator but unfortunately he does not have a mac, so he has to find a way to shoot and edit his movies with a camera and pc software.

Okay the dog needs to be walked and I need to get out of the house.