Art and Dan Kimball

In the early 2000s I lived in the Santa Cruz, CA area and attended Santa Cruz Bible where Dan Kimball was a pastor. Since then Dan has become the pastor of his own congregation called Vintage Church, written some great books, and become a leader in the ReGeneration Project. ReGeneration holds at it’s core, “theology, church, arts and mission for new generations.” I had a chance to chat with Dan and wanted to share a few of his thoughts.

Jake: What is the value of art? Why care at all?

Dan: We are created in the image of God, and God is the ultimate creator. God expressed beauty in His creation. Even in the depths of the sea there is beauty that we would not have known about if it wasn’t for technology. We seem to have a longing for expressing beauty and creativity being created in His image. So the value of art is seeing how people express creativity in a myriad of forms whether art, photography, sculpture, poetry, music etc.

Jake: Some ask,  “If the Bible is the inerrant and complete word of God, than we don’t need anything else right?” How would you respond to this? If the continuing revelation of literature, music and painting are not essential but extraneous, do they still have value?

Dan: I see the Bible as complete and I don’t need art for the Holy Spirit to use the Scriptures in my life. So I don’t see art as an essential in regards to understanding or learning the scriptures. However, just like conversation we can use art to express what the scriptures may teach us, or capture our emotions of worship that we may express through song and other art forms. It has value because it is how many human beings respond to God. Not too many people would say singing hymns or songs is an essential to understanding or learning the Bible, but they express love and worship to God through song. In the same way as singing, people express worship through other various forms of art and creativity. We often limit it to singing, which is sad as there are so many ways to express worship.

I love Dan’s perspective when he says, “We seem to have a longing for expressing beauty and creativity being created in His image.” He connects with the idea of art as an echo or reflection. We are merely participating, or re-participating, in the echo of God’s initial actions. We create because he did. We know these divine physics are true because 1 John 4:19 lays it all out. “We love because God first loved us.” How many other divine actions ripple through space and time to guide us, not in a Calvinistic predestination, but like a cork caught up in a wave?

Can we substitute actions and have it still make sense?

We create because God first created. We seek justice because God first sought justice. We make because God made. We weep because God first wept.

Our life, and worship, and art (not mutually exclusive) our bound up in each other and in the feedback loop of God’s divine sparks.

And readers, what do you think the point of art is? Is art a new scripture, part of the continuing conversation between humanity and the divine? Or is is a response to the initial spark? Do God’s divine actions, deep in our past, influence us today? Lets talk about it. Thanks Dan for the inspiration.

 

Used Car Jesus

The commodification of Christ as attraction, as kitsch, and as a bait-and-switch tactic for inclusion is problematic. Are we echoing strategies of used car salesmen or inviting folks into genuine, liberating, life giving relationship?

New Direction

Yes, I am an activist at heart.

Or maybe I am just an American Don Quixote, tilting at windmills. Probably the latter.

I don’t intend to curb my activism and outrage just focus it. Mostly I’m not gonna splatter it all over the internet like liberal Tourette’s or a shotgun of indignation. I’ve been looking at that in myself and hope to corral that energy into something better.

So this blog is gonna take a new direction. I am going to do what I’m good at and hopefully provide some thought, words, and interactions on something we could all actually use. We don’t need another angry pundit. I am sorry for becoming that (and see my previous posts on it).

I will be exploring modern art, literature, and music here. Think pop culture analysis from a progressive faith perspective. Think book reviews, art critiques, and album recommendations. Yes, some activism will pop up from time to time in my words on novels or poetry I am reading. I won’t hide who I am and that is unabashedly leftist. But if nothing else I want to contribute to the conversation in helpful ways.

Please keep reading and please keep connecting. Lets converse and dialogue about all this stuff. But for now, I hope to focus and look at the stuff I love and really chase my great white whales not just shoot at anything that moves in the water.

Speaking of Heroes

Idea Channel is one of these things on YouTube and maybe the cybertubes. Their recent episode on superheroes was great.

What do super hero movies say about us? This is something I will continue to examine. Meanwhile, watch the ‘sode.

We need more heroes, not villains.

Related to my lost post, I’m doing some self-examination and looking at why activism and challenging online can make one look like an asshole 9 times out of 10.

One realization I have come to is that it is easier to point out villains than to praise heroes. We are surrounded by people doing a bad job, folks hating folks, people denying folks, and humans hurting humans. So many examples of a busted world, here and there.

But more fear and anger and criticism does not drive out fear…

…love does.

So rather than respond to hatred with hatred we need to respond with examples and stories of folks who are doing amazing things with compassion and love and activism.

I’m gonna try to seek out the heroes, those who through compassion in the face of hatred.  It will go much further.

 

I’m pissed off. I’m angry. I’m ________.

I have noticed, and been told by some friends, that I’ve been coming off a little angry recently. Mostly online. That bums me out but I see it. My friend Jake told me I’ve been arguing too much on twitter, fighting too much on Facebook, and pushing to many buttons. That makes me sad, but I noticed it too.

I’m pissed off.

I’m angry.

I’m _________ (fill in the blank).

I think I might be an internet troll (Honesty is the first step to recovery right?). Right?

First of all, I am sorry. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the raw nerve, the pissed off and sensitive liberal, the firecracker activist, or the explosive guy in the corner. Yes, I care deeply. Yes, I’m a guilty white liberal.

But I am sorry.  I would much rather celebrate the good things, the successes, the positive steps and I try to. But I also feel left out. I feel too far on the edge. I yearn to be a part of something deeper and meaningful.

At our wedding my best friend and best man Chris gave a speech. He said that before he had met me a mutual friend had described me to him. “He’s gonna change the world.” And at the wedding Chris said that he was sure I would. I was touched. I want to. I feel called to do something, not for the fame or the recognition, but to do something with all of my ability. I feel called to help others, to be creative, and to connect people to life-giving engagement.

But I have no idea how. Or what that thing is. Or what I am supposed to do.

All I know is that I have been close and failed.

Been close and been held at bay. Been close and then pushed back.

And look at me now. At a backwards job that takes the air out of my sails every day.

How am I changing the world? What the hell am I doing?

I know I can do more but what am I not?

And that pisses me off. It makes me angry. I desperately want to be part of deeper relationships, conversations, and causes. So when I feel left out, I insert myself into conversations so I can feel as if there is some movement, some importance, so deeper cry, but what it really is is me railing in the dark looking like an asshole.

I feel left out so I argue with folks on twitter. When I really want to sit with them and talk and learn and discuss.

I feel like a failure so I debate with folks in an attempt to spark up some meaningful conversation but come across like the guy no one wants to talk to at a party.

I’m that guy and I don’t want to be.

I feel called but don’t know how to get there. I feel left out but don’t know of what. I feel lonely but not sure where to go for company.

So I am sorry. I don’t want to be that guy. But I’m that guy. I’ll try harder.