Saturday, April 30, 2011

the art of everything

i'm taking my "for fun" class (for my master's program) this term. it's called "artists are alive and well", but it should be called "art appreciation for dummies (or those who have never had memorable basic instruction in art)". i consider myself a creative, but did not have those memorable moments of art instruction (sorry, mr. collingham) so i feel like i am learning quite a bit in this class. i have moved from looking at a piece of art and saying, "it's pretty" or "i'm really drawn to it" to actually explaining, using basic art principles, why it's pretty or grips at a certain emotion. but i digress....

as we went further into the class, i found myself thinking more and more about Jesus and about the city. it all started with an article by roger rosenblatt centered on 'what is art.' while mr. rosenblatt was really talking about art and artists, i couldn't help but think about the way of Jesus. read these quotes first, and then i'll explain:

"the art of everything is to make one see what is present and real rather than what one wishes to be monumental and ideal."

"it is not simply a matter of catching the small stuff. it's about being alert to the non-ideal, the imperfect, the accidental gesture, the distracted gaze, to the pose that is not a pose. to be alert to the emotion of the continuum, rather than to search out a single lofty moment-one needs to look in the wrong direction to find the right direction."

"again and again to remind the artist to look for the eternal in the evanescence and not to wish life be better than it is because it's better as it is."

these quotes (and the article) are very much about not setting up a moment, but rather catching a moment. to catch a moment in process we often have to look in the places that are the least likely or that may feel wrong.

ten years ago at the end of this month, i was exposed to the city. not just the city, but the most visibly broken, struggling, rough parts of it. this is when i met the real Jesus (as opposed to the Jesus in my head). see, Jesus was very much in tune with the non-ideal and the imperfect. He went the "wrong direction" and in doing so, led people the right direction. He still does so today by leading people to humbly and faithfully cross cultural and economic barriers in order to build lasting relationships that change lives. my dealings with the city have taught me about community (as it takes a village not just to raise a child but to live life), authentic relationships (my life became much less stressful when i realized the value of practicing authenticity with all people), and most definitely humility (when i first came, i thought i would be helping people, but really they have helped me, or rather changed my life). i have learned to stop trying to create my moments and see my moments as they are happening. i never imagined that i would sit on the porch of an 88 year old african american and have him say to me that he never imagined he would sit and the hold the hand of a young white woman. i never thought i would get to walk alongside families who not only foster children, but try to connect with the birth family in a way that might bring them to know Jesus. it never occurred to me that i would get to be a part of what Jesus is doing in my city and even briefly in a city on the west coast. but here i am. just like mr. rosenblatt says, i'm learning to pay attention for the accidental, the forgotten, the thrown away. it's the "art of everything."

just as that third quote says life, even in the hard moments, is better as it is.

Monday, April 25, 2011

the whole dang thing

on april 10th, my roommate was proposed to by a seemingly wonderful man, ben. i am not known to do this on my blog, but today, i'm going to promote his blog.

ben has a strong love of scripture (as does andrea) and is taking it to new levels. he is manuscripting the entire Bible from front to back. for those of you that are unfamiliar with the term manuscript or inductive Bible study, it is a way of studying scripture that strips back a lot of what the world says about the Bible and just uses the Bible and your brain (and a few resources) to see what is being said. the passage is printed on paper that often gets marked up as the reader makes observations and poses questions. here is an example.

as you can imagine, this inductive study of the Bible is quite a process. ben is hoping to finish in four years (if i remember what he told me correctly) doing at least 4 chapters a week. the coolest part of this whole adventure, in my opinion, is that he is letting the world benefit from it as well. he is blogging about each and every chapter; hence the reason for my promotion of this blog. ben has some great insight, allows the Lord to speak to him through his studies, and then writes about it in a way that often infuses pop culture and daily life with that from the days of the old testament, not at all an easy feat. his writings are relevant, funny, and challenging. each time i read them, i not only learn something new, but find myself contemplating the concepts throughout the day.

so, check it out.....the whole dang thing