experiment


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Does this fit your mental image of what Adam and Eve looked like?  When I first saw this painting by Fernando Botero it messed with me.  Of course that is not what Adam and Eve looked like!  My mental image is one of a slender and beautiful Eve with dirty blond locks of hair flowing over her shoulders in perfect placement to cover over her bountiful bosoms. Standing beside her is Adam, self assured in his nakedness although conspicuously always pictured behind a waist high hedge (must of been lots of those hedge in Eden).

This is what this painting stirs in me.  What does this evoke in terms of my view of the human body?  And my own body(since mine bears a much better resemblance to this Adam, than the usual GQ models of typical Eden scenes)?  How does an Adam and Eve created like this affect my view of what it means to be human?   Why is Eve wearing a mullet?(ok this one is sarcasm)  How does this picture view how I would view the love between Adam and Eve?  These are just a few beginning thoughts.  But my point is…

This is what art does.  Art exposes, reveals and refreshes.

1. Art exposes our mental images

Every idea and thought we have is also associated with a mental image.  Art, especially good art, exposes those mental images and gives our mind the option of something different.  Art gets us to see something that we haven’t seen before.  Or maybe we have seen it before, but with the anchor of repression we block and ignore certain images because of what they do to us.  Some images frighten us, some pieces of art invoke feelings or emotions that we dare not acknowledge being there.

I feel this is the reason why Mel Gibson’s movie the Passion was so successful.  What this movie did was challenge our  sanitized images and versions of the crucifixion and exposed our current images as the comfortable Easter/nice little bunny season holiday that it has morphed into.  Now, although the violent monolithic picture of the cross was IMHO a little too focused on the blood and gore, it did cause me to think and to re-imagine some of my images.

2. Art exposes how static our thinking has become.

Left to ourselves we will have the tendency to hold onto those images that secure and validate our past history and current culture themes.   We cling to the images that agree with our history.  When we encounter an image that transcends our past and sends us into a trajectory that causes us to consider our own past actions and thoughts as being incorrect or incomplete, we initially want to reject that image.  

In addition to our own personal history we also have to deal with our current culture matrix.  What happens when we see an image that runs counter cultural to the mainstream culture that we are swimming in?  We can either reject the image or we can accept the reality that our image has become frozen by time and culture.  

Of course this is normal.  Remember that childhood friend that  you grew up with and have now lost contact?  When you imagine them, you don’t imagine them as they are now, but as they were when you interacted with them in grade 3.  (This to me is the reason why Facebook as a social networking frame works so well, we all want up to date pictures and images to associate with our past memories)  Deep down we all want new pictures and images.  I believe this is part of the creative God image within us all.  I also believe we have fallen out of rhythm with this creative tendency within us and instead now want to go back to the static photo album of who God has been in the past.  We must move past the scrapbook snapshots of who God was and step into the nowness of a God who lives in real time.

3. Art refreshes our barriers

To deny that we have barriers is deny our own humanity.  To be ‘full human’ is not to deny the existence of those barriers but to acknowledge that they exist and that they affect our lives.  These mental obstacles and images have a direct correlation to our lives.  

A perfect example was when my wife and I went to go visit a living Nativity.  There was a huge crowd.  Lots of people, animals, Roman Guards, Villagers etc. In the midst of it, Toree lost track of our little girl Charlotte and had the typical fear response.  Me in my, “nothing bad will happen” ideal, said to her(in the most loving and caring way of course), “Come on who is going to steal a little girl in the middle of a Nativity scene.”  The scene of love, birth and nativity had in my mind made the place a safe place, which of course, by its very nature of strangers was not.

To be fully human is not to deny the existence of those barriers but to acknowledge that they exist and affect our lives.  Art, if we allow it, can be the light that shines and helps identity our presuppositions and assumption.

What if…

One image that has become sterile and anti-septic to our souls is the picture of Christmas.  Baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manager. Silent night, Hark the Herald Angels Singing, etc, etc.  This season is filled with images.  I would like to suggest an alternative image of this picture in my next post.

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So it has been a little over a month since I have gotten rid of my AT&T data plan for my cell phone.  Here is my update on what my life has been like since its departure.

There are times that I have nothing to do and I am forced to do the absolutely frightening thing and sit in stilllessness with myself.  No emails to check, no drudgereport to peruse.  Only myself, plain ole me.

I wonder if as a people we don’t really like ourselves.  I mean, ever moment we are trying to get away from ourselves.  We constantly are wanting distractions by means of music, movies, tv, email and books. Seriously, If I treated my wife like I treat myself, she would have divorced me years ago.  Maybe the pertinent question is, have we divorced ourselves?  Have I divorced myself?

There is much encouragement to spend a “date night” with your spouse, to encourage conversation, engagement and time for relational growth together.  But can I ask, when was the last time you took 30 minutes of silence and solitude and listened to the thoughts, feelings and emotions that are running through your head.  

So the disconnection I now feel in regards to my phone has been a reawakening of how much I fill my extra time with technological noise.  There were times when I am waiting for my haircut where I am actually fidgeting with my phone like a crack addict, hoping for something to pop across the screen to entertain, to sooth the pain of the silence.  When the silence becomes too overwhelming I crack and pull out a game of Solitaire, again filling my mind with some sort of noise.

How much time do you spend alone with your thoughts, please take the informal poll below, I would find the results interesting?

I encourage you, take a walk and unpack the clog of thoughts.  Heck, even take yourself on a date… you deserve it.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”

This beatitude never sat well with me, or maybe sat with me too long. Sorta like good ole’ corn on the cob. You eat it at dinner and you are still picking pieces out of your teeth days later. Well I think I picked out something else.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” for they are the Ones who live as though they have nothing to lose.

As I begin to ponder this description of what the Lord’s life is I realize I have no idea what it means to live as though I have nothing to lose.

But one thing I have determined is that living with nothing to lose has to do with position. Were do I stand in relation to things? Do I stand higher or lower?

The Franciscan’s call them selves OFM. Order of the Friars Minor. A modern day translation of this according to Richard Rohr is Brother of the Lower Class. At our last church meeting we were talking living with losing in mind. We talked about what difference it would make if we started signing our names with the designation BLC, Brothers of the Lower Class.

Designations and credentials are all around us. They usually only point in one direction. Upwards, achievement, success, attainment. We see then and use them as sign posts to define the activity of a persons life.

Here are some of the more common; PhD, MD, Pres, CPA, BA, MDiv and my personal favorite is AAMG (Accredited Asset Management Guru. Who doesn’t want to be a guru?)

Funny how these designations and credentials below just haven’t caught on:

PAOW-Poor and on welfare

ATEOMR-At The End Of My Rope

FA-Failed Again

MWIFA-My World is Falling Apart

CTL-Choosing to Lose

PIK-Powerlessness is Key

So I wonder what would happen to our position if we started signing our names with the reality of where we are. BLC and SLC’s, Brothers and sisters of the Lower Class. To identify with Downwards instead of Upwards, Failure instead of achievement, Emptying instead of Attainment, Poverty instead of Success.

Out of our identity will flow all of our identifiable actions.

So I challenge you, the next time you sign your name on your check at the supermarket, add your God given designation, Brothers and Sisters of the Lower Class, BLC’s and SLC’s.

Signed,

Kevin Hiebert, BLC in training

A week ago I set out on an Experiment in Hope. (view part 1) Here is what I found as the thread of hope in my days.

Is there anything better than losing your first tooth? The hope of getting older. The hope of something new coming in. I find it ironic that children lose teeth and adult don’t. Quite frankly I don’t think an adult could handle the fragility of looking different, having to change the way I would eat (how dare anyone tell me to change!). An adults self esteem and ego would be crushed. But a child celebrates it! And their hope is rewarded by the faithful and elusive tooth fairy.

I was sitting in Powell’s Books, (the largest used bookstore in Portland). There I saw a young artist. She had a sketch book and graphite pencils. I walked up to get a coffee and passed by her. She was drawing. What I do not know. But in that I saw hope. She wasn’t reading to gain knowledge, she was not involved in some deep theological and esoteric conversation, she was simply drawing. Cause she could. There was something coming out of her. I love artists. They inspire me. I feel artists are people who the DNA of hope. May their tribe increase among us!

I just need to say that I don’t like fishing. I think it is one of the hopeless activities in life. (Much of this feeling is likely due to my own lack of success.) This time of year on the Columbia River there is a chinook run of salmon. There are thousands of boats on the river, all lined up in neat rows. All with hope of catching that illusive salmon. To me this is hope shared. To know that they have hope somehow makes me feel more hopeful.

Almost every telephone pole in downtown Portland is covered like this. Advertisements, bands, garage sales, events and special occasions. All saying something, all wanting attention and specifically my attention. They are tattered, partially covered, faded pieces of paper. But these mini-internet telephone poles scream what hope is to me. Hope is always fading. The moment I cling to a moment of hope a little too tightly it slips away from me. My hope of yesterday is tattered and needs to be replaced with a new hope event.

And that is what I came away with about Hope. Hope is only good for this moment. When you see Hope breathe Him in deeply. And then exhale. Ready to take your next breath. For in the next breath of Hope, He will be all your breath can handle. In fact He may even take your breath away.