Back to Church Sunday

July 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

Today I’d like to break my months-long sabbatical from blogging to lament. And in lamenting I mean to join fellow bloggers, but, more importantly, Followers in recognizing incongruity on this scum of a planet.

The Problem (too harsh a word? I think not.):

Back to Church Sunday is September 16 this year. A campaign that has apparently been occurring for the last few years every year. Churches can purchase “kits” complete with signage for their building’s lawn, a “pastor rap” to play during announcements on Sunday morning, videos about how not to invite people to church, etc. Radio commercials and a well-made website top off the campaign.

It sounds all good and well, right? Well, I don’t think so. In fact, I’m deeply bothered and am moved to pray. Seriously.

The Lament (not too harsh a word):

I lament because the gathering of Christians called “church” is a misunderstanding. It demonstrates ignorance and the loss of something better. I don’t mean to say the word “ignorance” in a haughty way as if “I’ve put childish ways behind me”, but in a compassionate, concerned, bummed out way. Things ought not be this way.

All the materials that BTCS is using to promote September 16 focus on selling “church”. They focus on selling it based on its conformity to contemporary norms of comfort and cool. They focus on lights and style and hipness.

NOT ON JESUS.

Not on Jesus! Jesus, the man, God, our Savior. The One who allows us to come and receive grace for our sins, to exit the rat race and vying for value from a jury of peers. The One who unites those that believe and those that don’t, “breaking down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14), and uniting those that do follow Him in His body on earth. THAT is mystical and completely otherworldly.

Even ridiculous.

But perhaps that is where there is fear. Fear that the true representation of ekklesia (the Greek word “church” meagerly attempts to translate) will bring ridicule.

I’m not mad. I’m sad. And I wonder if God is not grieved too. I wonder if He, just for a brief moment, puts his head in his hands at a horrible misunderstanding.

I believe God is using and can use the institution of “church” to bring people to become followers. I believe He calls certain people to the building to learn and to teach. But I believe He calls even those people to something greater meanwhile. He has fashioned them into the church the body. The body of Christ. The global mystical body.

One of my friends used to call it “big B Body”. (As opposed to “little b body”, a local body of Jesus followers.)

I’m not sure if any of this is making sense. Maybe it doesn’t have to.

I’m lamenting this morning. I’m praying this morning. I’m praying for God to save people, to bring together His Body into bodies that do life on the daily together. People that don’t simply “invite someone to church and let the preacher tell them about Jesus”, like I was told to do when I was a kid. People that spend time with Jesus.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not e taken away from her.” -Luke 10:41-42

in pursuit of love,

nathaniel andrew

Religion, Commodity, and Conspiracy?

May 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Prince of Peace painting by 4 year old

The story goes, a 4 year-old boy, Colton Burpo, had a near death experience, was caught up to the “third heaven” and came “back” to earth. Another 4 year-old Akiane Kramarik, prodigy artist claiming inspired art, painted the above “Prince of Peace”. Colton, having allegedly seen the face of Jesus, identified this painting among many to be the “right” Jesus.

Akiane’s giclee, corroborated as a relic of divine significane by Colton’s vision, sells on canvas prints for from $150 to $450 depending on size, in boxed sets of note cards for $40, and in framed prints from $40, and (though I couldn’t find the exact price) the original sold for something between $100,000 and $1,00,000.

Something in me makes me extremely skeptical that human form of Jesus while He was on earth could be exactly captured by any human artist. 1) because there is no Biblical basis for relics of any kind [Exodus 20 would actually argueagainst them], so why would God reveal that image and 2) it smells like a really good marketing ploy.

I could be spiteful or subconsciously jealous or faithless. Maybe it is the picture of Jesus of Nazareth. But…truly, what does that do for me? If I decided to believe that Akiane’s “Prince of Peace” were the image of my savior, would I suddenly be disposed towards people with sharp noses and full beards? (I’ll admit I’m already predisposed towards folks with beards, mostly because I can’t grow one.) Would I pray to the image instead of to God? Would it actually bring me closer to Christ, reminding me of His presence all around me? Or would it distract me from a relationship with a real Spirit?

in pursuit of love,

nathanielandrew

Persistence amidst Impermanence

April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I had intended to take a picture of a spray paint and stencil street art style painting on the side of an electrical box for this post, but I found something so much more intriguing…

The stencil had said “Serve the Servants”, had been outside Bluestem Bistro for at least a year, and had been the subject of not a few conversations among me and my friends. It intrigued many by its unclear meaning. (Was it a demand by wait staff for bigger tips? Was it an exhortation to serve the “least of these” as taught by Jesus? Was it a demand to “pay it forward”?)

What I found instead is illustrated by the following pictures:

The original stencil was erased, but someone took their finger and wrote the same imperative sentence in its wake. It could have been the artist, or not. I’d like to imagine it wasn’t the original artist, but that his or her art had made that much of an impact.

The painting was missed.

in pursuit of love,

nathanielandrew

Ouch: A Stinging Appraisal

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

This “street” art gives a stinging (rude, realistic) social commentary on stairs and escalators. To me, it poses the question, “Are we enabling obesity in the United States by the ubiquity of escalators and [in airports] people moves and elevators?”

Are we?

Is this art inappropriate? Is it too caustic? It’s certainly not Nigel’s mushrooms or ROA’s rodent in London. It’s not even Banksy’s police officers frisking a little girl. It hits a little closer home for the public at large (pun intended). No “no offense” afforded here: it’s offensive.

This artist doesn’t coddle. And his or her eschewal is in part enabled by the anonymity of the art form. It’s the same phenomena present in online comment threads (you know, where the anonymous “imsohip5768″ and “mypenisisbiggerthanyour69″ users duke it out with puerile name-calling and character insults even though neither person has ever talked to the other previously nor had even a single drop of tea). Anonymity allows for some strange and desperate evils.

Are there positive sides to anonymity too? (Surprises, protecting a third party’s honor, political correctness?) I’m not positive.

in pursuit of love,

nathanielandrew

Fahrenheit 459: The temperature at which paintings burn

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Funds-Short Museum burns paintings in protest
(This post considers this article featured in the Kansas City Star.)

The Casoria Contemporary Art Museum near Naples, Italy, burned at least two paintings a few weeks ago to protest that it did not receive funds as a “public service”.

What a drag.

The artists granted the curator permission to burn their paintings. I can’t imagine seeing or hearing about one of my paintings burning. I was just telling my girlfriend today how much it bums me out to think that a painting I gave her is merely not hanging up.

(Unfortunately I couldn’t find out any more recent news about whether the protest pyre was successful. Reason to suspect it was? I did discover that the two fired paintings garnered international attention: more reason to suspect the protest’s success.)

I want to ponder art as a public service. Amidst all my focus on public and street art, museum art seems like much less of a public service. Yet Plato described the knowledge among “the excellencies” and, because of its general excellence, good for its own sake. He would say that museum’s fill this office of knowledge.

How many people actually go to museum’s? Are the people-who-go-to-museums already full of puffy excellent knowledge?They, after all, are the ones with the luxury of time and money to go visit. The less educated, the structurally impoverished, the indebted, the single mothers, the immigrants: those who don’t get the opportunity to go, are probably the ones who would mostbenefit in Plato’s terms.

My take: those people probably would enjoy hanging out with family and friends at a park or in their living room than going and “experiencing culture”. For it, I think they are all the wiser.

Here’s my point: Life is more about community than the procurement of abstract knowledge or “cultured-ness”.

All that really isn’t an argument against a museum as a public service. It’s really just an argument against Plato: Knowledge isn’t as excellent as community.

in pursuit of love,

nathanielandrew

“Theodicy”

April 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

It is finished.

I call it Theodicy because there is difficulty, tenderness, pain, and perseverance associated with the phrase “God is good.” I believe God is good, but it is not always easy. God is good.  Sometimes I doubt, most of the time I believe, and all of the time I am continually broken. Sometimes people throw stones. Sometimes I throw my own stones. But, like a mantra, the reality of truth persists. God is good.

Every time I paint something I feel like it appropriates a portion of my heart. If it really does, then maybe it will commune with the hearts of others who see it.

It feels really good when people say the painting is nice.

I want to sell it. For some reason something feels a little strange about selling it. Especially selling it for what I think its worth. I would rather have this painting than $500. So I want to sell it for $750. Am I prideful to ask so much? I suppose if someone is willing to buy it for that much, then I succeeded in touching their heart with mine. But…did I just insinuate the commodification of the heart in art?

Let me know if you wanna buy it.

in pursuit of love,

nathanielandrew

The Rise (and fall) of Street Art

April 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

This post reflects upon this article from The Daily Herald.

Roa Street Art London Chance Street 2 ROA Hedgehog pops up in Shoreditch

In a dodgy economy and an era of ubiquitous information, street art.

C215 Street Art Brick Lane 1 C215 hits Brick Lane

In London, Artists are exploiting the canvas of empty and neglected and old walls, exhibiting art that makes people smile, makes them think, makes them double take.

Some of the artists give testimony to the openness of their canvasses. Police officers will watch them paint or place their sculptures and let them be. Some artists don’t even bother to paint at nighttime.

London is said to be “ahead” of, or more socially/culturally evolved than the United States. So, we’re next in this progressive acceptance of street art, right?

But what does that mean for London? For London to remain hip, street art will need to lose its edge and give way to the next bigthing (the transient nature of trend). And if it is already losing its edge, as some say, even in part by the hand of Banksy, the very one who earned street art its respect, then isn’t it in peril?

Bummer.

in pursuit of love,

nathanielandrew

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