Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How art can expose reality

In this society I am presented with the idea of creating my own existence, answering the questions of "Who am I?", "Why am I here?", "What is my reality?". Here we can be faced with existentialism - the idea of self description, self meaning where we can create our own reality. An interesting concept and far from Christianity and yet so close to the mirror of our society now.

Then in steps Francis Bacon, a painter that is partly dressed in existentialism. We had an opportunity to discuss his works within a training week and we were faced with the horror of his paintings and raw depiction of life. He displays to us what is under the skin of creating our own meaning and how that leads to a loss of hope, a loss of soul and darkness.

Within this article, the writer gives us a deeper understanding of what Jean-Paul Sartre says about existentialism in his lecture L'Existentialisme est un humanisme -

A man gets up in the morning. He knows, without a second's moment of self-questioning, what he must do. He must take up the clothes that define his identity as a human being and put them on. He pulls on his black trousers, slaps the napkin across his forearm, adjusts the angle of his chin, and makes for the door. He is, in short, a waiter in a restaurant. That is his nature. That is his identity. That is his destiny.

Such a human being, Sartre points out, is guilty of mauvaise foi, or bad faith. That man is not a waiter at all, not fundamentally. He has chosen that identity for himself. V C The fact is that he is, at root, nothing. He lacks for an essence. He is only what he makes of himself. And, in fact, Sartre is telling us – and this is the baleful truth of the human condition – that there is nothing beyond what a man chooses to make of himself. There is no soul, and no god who looks out for that soul.

Just from looking at Bacon's painting you can see him touching on these things. We may indeed look at them and think they are far from the reality we live in, that they are showing a sign of madness. But truthfully I believe they are showing us the outcome of our thinking of "what a man chooses to make of himself".
Think of this... the world is your oyster and we prefer the grey suits and pay rises that help us create our own meaning.

Not long ago there was a debate in Mexico with Richard Dawkins and William Lane Craig discussing the purpose of the universe. The Dawkins side of the debate did not argue that there was no purpose as such, but rather we create our own reasons for existence and as long as we do good in this world then our reality has proved to be worth it. I guess that's the only possible outcome when you believe that we have no real basis for existence because we are born, live and die.

Yet I was reminded in this of how the Dawkins side of the debate reflects that of Bacon - a hopeless ideology, and perhaps a lonely life that is trying to grip and create some form of meaning within themselves - being whoever they want to be but ending up in the depths of meaninglessness. But of course I am not saying that Dawkins and Co are exactly like Bacon. But I wonder if what Bacon paints is just mirroring the truth and reality of the belief that Dawkins and Co has, but at a deeper and raw level. The difference being is that one wears suits and is portrayed as ideal in our society and the other is seen as an extreme, bleak and lonely artist. Yet I don't think they are worlds apart because they illustrate the stark reality of life without God and its scary.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gracism, the Gracist way...

Gracism. A book about inclusion of those that are on the boundaries, whether that's racially, culturally or those that are just different. This book provides a very interesting concept about including those that are in the minority to be a part of the fellowship or a part of our lives. This is certainly something we can learn from in our churches and also in our Christian Unions. I am doing a seminar on International Mission in a couple of weeks and a point I will be making is if we want to share the Gospel with the nations and international people within England, then we need to reach out our lives and friendship to those that are different to us.

The book provides many challenges for us. Anderson says in the book about the heart of a gracist is "The one who hears, sees and pays attention to those on the margins" This is a challenge in itself about whether we would willingly go out of our way to include those that look differently to us or are sitting alone and are perhaps socially awkward. There is a lot of talk about racial divide in the book and how as a "gracists" you need to intentionally look out for those that are different in any way. Although I agree with some of the ideas of intentionally looking out for those that are different and on the margins, I don't think however we need to use another label like "gracist". I just think we should be doing these things anyway because we are Christians, followers of Christ.

But not just because we are Christians but because we have a global Gospel. A Gospel that includes everyone to share in fellowship with Jesus. So to not do that and deny those that are different in hearing or sharing in the fellowship means you are going against the Gospel. The very heartbeat is that there is unity in Christ because there is unity in the trinity. I would of loved the book to continue on from stories of acts of inclusion to how this inclusion is demonstrated within the trinity and what the Gospel provides which then should warm our hearts to this global gospel and sharing it with all nations.

Monday, November 22, 2010

JPOD - Staff Worker version 2.0

I am quite enjoying JPOD by Dougles Coupland, probably because I spent a year in IT support at University and can relate to the randomness of this book and at heart I am a geek! During the book there are pages full of random quotes and sentences that just add to the surreal life of Ethan and his JPOD companions. How far from reality is JPOD? Probably not that far off, although no one seems to sleep and they go on random trips to China (which hasn't happened to me yet). But perhaps in the fiction there is a base of reality that highlights the mundane and splashes it across absurdity. So it occurred to me that for fun I could write my own page of JPOD but relating to being a UCCF Staff Worker. And of course it is meant to be weird and not taken seriously.

STAFF WORKER version 2.0
TEAM LEADER upgrade.
Please press any key to continue..

FILTER COFFEE GOSPEL and £1 to buy Starbucks.

"Come and have Breakfast"
Fish and Chips after death.

Freedom. Gospel. Grace. Love.

Are you a miserable Christian?
I Blog. I Think. I Drink... 
Mac books are in Heaven.

I wear Fat Face. I am not Face Face. Face Fat. Book

I Create. I Dream. I Believe.
That is a good question....................................................................?
We have ink on our faces.
It is good to be a Christian. 


South West Team. Soup
Ruggle Juggle 
Welcome to Exeter. Plymouth. Falmouth. Bristol. Bath

3:16.8:1.2:20.5:1. Genesis. ADAM. CHRIST. APPLE. CROSS. FREE 
Snapshot of Cross Culture.

My morning drink is Exodus with a sprinkle of Romans.
Living for Jesus. Speaking for Jesus.
Houseparty. 3 Block. Seminar. Ear Plugs.
Diving into the Gospel. Team Days. CAKE!

Reforming the heart. EDWARDS. OWEN.
Jesus is beautiful. 

Lets have beautiful feet. 
            Feet need to walk and share good news. 
                    Good news needs to be in our hearts. 
                              Our hearts need to know Christ. 
                                                       CHRIST IS ALL.


Relationships. Tears. Goodbyes. New pages. Chapters unfold.
Be creative.
Don't wear socks and sandals. 
Do Enjoy.

STANDBY until HE Returns.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hidden Art?

Somewhere in the dark underground of New York City, a very strange art exhibition took place recently-one which didn’t invite any patrons, didn’t entertain collectors and which closed on the same day it launched. The Underbelly Project was the brainchild of two street artists-Workhorse and PAC, who conceptualized this art exhibition two years back and involved more than 100 other artists from around the world in their project. The exhibition was held illegally in an abandoned subway station, where artists showcased their talent on the walls of this dark and damp place, taking utmost care to escape the eyes of the outer world.
-  Taken from this blog here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Colossians - Freedom in the Gospel (pt4)

There is always great joy and celebration when someone becomes a Christian. But after the first couple of months the joy seems to fade... ever wonder why that is?

Paul continues to remind the Colossians and us about what Christ has done. He remarks "in Him..." we have everything. In the Gospel we have freedom because Christ has done everything. We are no longer under the things in 2v16-23 like regulations of "do not taste or touch" etc

 But yet we are wired to keep going back to rules and regulations or the law. We think it will keep us safe but in fact it makes us miserable Christians. So how refreshing it is to be reminded in these passages that Christ has done everything and we free in the Gospel.

This is what new and older Christians need to hear - the Gospel and what Jesus has done, to keep coming back to the joy that is in the Gospel and that we don't have to add anything on to the Gospel. Lets keep being "rooted and built up in Him"...

Monday, November 15, 2010

A view from a bus seat


The outside world spinning in streams of green and grey
Stretching from left to right,
Beats of noise vibrating in ear holes
With strong smells of perfume
Curling its way up the aisle.
Hello mother with screaming child
Running endlessly through women with frowns
And big overcoats tucking in an identity.
Windows open. Windows close.
Hot air blown through the holes in shoes
That stand waiting for the stop.
Bells tinkle and large groups mingle
In and out of the stripy seats,
Covered in silhouettes of scarf’s and hats
Dreaming of summer beaches and boat houses.
Goodbye driver with fake smile;
How you must ponder as you spin the wheel,
Whether there is more to this stretch of road and life
Then grumpy abuses and baby prams?
How long before the clock ticks till your stop
And you can sit in the back seat, quite free
From red and green jams,
While sipping and slurping your steaming cup of tea.

By Catherine Hare.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Too dependant on our mobile phone?

I really love receiving txts and phone calls. When my phone bleeps its a sign of someone wanting to speak to me. But I wonder whether we are too dependant on our phones and do they take the place of real community and real friendship?

Recently I read an interesting post about mobile phones at Challies Dot Com. 

He wrote - "Do you see what the phone does? There’s a great irony buried within it. The cell phone, a device meant to enhance my communication with others, can increase my ability to communicate with those who are far from me, but this often comes at the cost of communication with my own wife and children—those closest to me."

And then

"The fact is, many of us buy phones in order to remain connected to the people we love. Do you remember the commercials that sold us on having unlimited calling to five friends or family members? This phone was going to let us be closer to those we want to be closest to. This is a noble thing. And yet in the end the phone demands our attention even (and perhaps especially) while we are near those people. While I sit beside my wife, my phone calls me to respond to an email from a client a thousand miles away. While I go for a walk with my son, the phone calls me to response to a text message from a friend across town."


"The only solution I know of is to be very disciplined in our use of such technology, to be willing to carve times in which the phone is set aside so we can focus on what truly matters most. The phone isn’t going anywhere, and at least for now, it is not going to give up the ideologies that are buried deep within it."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A day at Seaton, Cornwall

Tim and I went to Seaton on Saturday for a nice break. It was good to not have our phones work and just be by the sea! We took some pictures as well...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Colossians - Suffering to make Christ Known (Pt3)

Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that  does not show itself in protection from suffering.... The love of God did not protect His own Son.... He will not necessarily protect us - not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process. – Elizabeth Elliot
It can seem too easy to think that our Christian lives were made for comfort. And perhaps we can sway to the other extreme and think that if we are suffering then it proves that we are ticking the right boxes. Yet Paul in Colossians 1:24 - 2:5 is quite clear that he is suffering not for the sake of suffering but to make Christ known. He is not living in comfortable christian bubbles nor suffering and grumbling about it. But he is making Christ known and is suffering because of it and through his suffering he is making Christ known.

1v24 "I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" is a bit tricky and at first sight we think that Paul is saying that what Christ has done on the cross is not enough and he has to add to it. But we know from before that this is not the case!!
John Piper explains this well:
"What is lacking is that the infinite value of Christ's afflictions are not known in the world. They are still a mystery (hidden) to most peoples. And God's intention is that the mystery be revealed, extended to all the Gentiles. So the afflictions are lacking in the sense that they are not seen and known among the nations. They must be carried by ministers of the Word. And those ministers of the Word fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others."

So then what should we expect as Christians and how does that affect our sharing of the Gospel? I hope it gives us confidence. That for Jesus being honoured and shown to the nations is not just through amazing lunchbar talks, catchy sermons, loud worship times or fancy events. It will be when His church is humbled, mocked, beaten, dying to self and through that still loving each other and Jesus, clinging to Jesus and sharing his word no matter what.