[note: over the next few weeks I want to share a handful of notes and insights from the C3 Conference (Christ, Church, Culture) at St. George’s in Nashville. Here’s the first.]
Every now and then you get a glimpse into a new world just pregnant with possibility. I had that sense on March 1-3 as I got to hear Makoto Fujimura speak twice at the amazing C3 Confirence. Here are some of the highlights from his two talks. I can’t guarantee these as direct quotes, but the wording is awfully close. My own responses follow.
from “A Creative Journey” (March 1)
- if I had no place for beauty, then I had no place for love; if my only paradigm is self-expression, I have no room for love.
- the narrow path of following Christ provides a way for me to die and live as well
- the goal is not to look at myself and express it – but to look, see what is Real, and express that
- we must begin to integrate faith and art and reconcile what was once separated and disengaged
- faced with the devastation of “ground-zero realities” (disasters, tragedies, etc.) in “the great dismantling,” what is the calling of the church? how are we to move in and move forward with love? how do we practice “culture care,” not “culture war?” how to speak in the world with such conviction because we know where beauty comes from, that goodness is, and that truth sets you free?
- beauty cannot be separate from truth and goodness – they are one, and they are refractive of each other
- Jesus says “I am the gate,” and the gate is open: when the church keeps and teaches that it is open, the way is clear for “lost” artists to come home. many want to, but don’t know how.
- when you preach the true gospel from the deep well of the love of Christ, then the margins come alive and that means lots of artists. the gospel makes creative people! the challenge for the church is how to embrace them.
from “Developing Culture Care Principles” (March 3)
- in ecology, care for an estuary and you care for a whole ecosystem. culture is an ecosystem: learn to rely on and care for what is generatively given and you will fix “upstream” through what flows in rather than just engage in “downstream” clean up
- we need to become creative rather than consumptive and think of things as “gifts,” not “commodities”
- caring for the culture of art means attention to the whole ecosystem of generation, appreciation, purchase, and patronage.
- how can material capital be used as a catalyst for relational/social capital and creative capital for the furthering shalom (peace/whole human flourishing) in this world?
- since love is both creative and generative, art is a remarkable place to invest
Now to some personal responses.
- For a while I have been wrestling in my own mind with how to get out of that box that thinks “arts” are just the “pretty bits around the edges” rather than a real means to convey the one who is grace and truth himself. Theologically I’m there – but in practice in ministry, I barely know where to begin. I need to begin looking for places to learn this and see it in action.
- I have three children (and an artful wife!) and I’m amazed as their creativity and ability to generate stuff: writing, sketches, artful creations, arrangements, and more. How can I as a dad encourage and foster that gifting of creativity in an effort to generate culture rather than simply consume it?
- I work with a pile of students who need a voice (and a place) to encourage their God-given gift of creativity in service of him and his world. How do you begin to do that? How do you help create an arts culture that celebrates rather than sidelines?
- Where does my own creative gift lie? What am I doing as a “steward” to focus on and foster the flourishing of that gift? Am I generating anything worth the investment of others?
- How do I start putting my money where my mouth is?
As you can see, I’m often better at articulating questions than generating answers. But it’s good to be sparked to ask the right questions.