January 8, 2011
Q. What does the above image mean to you? Does it offend you that Jesus face is being painted over as he is being re-visioned? Why/why not?
As I set about thinking about my upcoming thesis wherein I propose to tackle the idea of re-visioning the Christian Faith – or at least a portion of it – the words of the online director for my MFA from AAU are ringing in my head. “Really, what has a guy in sandals from 2,000 years ago have to do with anyone today?” I propose that the “guy in sandals from 2,000 years ago” has much to say that is applicable to us today, but how we receive what is “taught” often has a direct reflection on how it’s delivered, as well as the context it’s delivered in.
Whilst pursuing both theological and ministry studies over the years, my heart has always been for the last, the least (the fringe dwellers), the lost, and the disenfranchised. For them, token images of beautiful sunsets and landscapes, and generic images of doves etc. that churches seem to use mean little. What do these images mean to anyone? We’ve become so desensitised to them that I suspect they do little to move people these days. What message does the average generic “Christian artwork” bring to us today? Not a lot! Sadly Christians have a reputation for producing bad artwork and design whereas there was a time when we were on the cutting edge (think of the illuminated manuscripts).
(As Chrisitans, we all know this is a depiction of the Holy Spirit, but what else could be used in it’s place?)
(How could the above image be depicted differently?)
The Biblical story unfolds primarily through narrative and poetry, yet in it’s retelling, the Western Church has engaged in methods of communication that minimise visual imagery and maximise verbal instruction. In our current postmodern culture, with its visual and experiential learning styles, the need to re-visualise the Christian faith has never been stronger. When it comes to my thesis, it is my desire to take something that could be considered the “fundamentals” of Christian teaching – the parables of Jesus – and offer a fresh, adventurous look, while embracing truth and symbolism in a way that reflects the holy mysteries and poetic nature of the Biblical narrative.
My hope is that my thesis (particularly the visual aspect which will reflect diverse theological insights) would encourage people to think about faith and spirituality in a new light. It is my belief that this work would create discussion points — perhaps even controversy, and will challenge people’s perceptions of my faith on several levels. I want the imagery to be beautiful and/or compelling so that even those with alternate belief systems would appreciate them. For persons who are interested in spirituality but haven’t committed to a faith, my hope is they would find a way of engaging with my faith in a way that is open and liberating.
What do you think? Do you think Christians in general could approach sharing their faith message more creatively? Why/why not?
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