on “regular life”

My heart and head have been riveted by this quote from Rowan Williams, taken from my reading of Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant for my course on Christian ministry this semester. (I’ve replaced “pastor” with “Christian” in my reading.)

What is useless and destructive is to imagine that enlightenment of virtue can be found in seeking for fresh stimulation. The [Christian] life is a refusal of any view that will make human maturity before God dependent on external stimulus, ‘good thoughts,’ good impressions, edifying influences and ideas. Instead, the [Christian] must learn to live with his or her own darkness, with the interior horror or temptation and fantasy. Salvation affects the whole of the psyche; to try to escape boredom, sexual frustration, restlessness, unsatisfied desires by searching for fresh tasks and fresh ideas is to attempt to seal off these areas from grace. Without the humiliating and wholly ‘unspiritual’ experiences of [regular life] – the limited routine of trivial tasks, the sheer tedium and loneliness – there would be no way of confronting much of human nature. It is a discipline to destroy illusions. The [Christian must commit to regular life] to escape the illusory […] identity proposed by the world; he and she now have to see the roots of illusion within, in the longing to be dramatically and satisfyingly in control of life, the old familiar imperialism of the self bolstered by the intellect.

on vulnerability, imagination and stuff

I’m learning a little bit about vulnerability lately. Just a little.

I’m learning that vulnerability is what makes life (true life, the life that Jesus wants for us) possible.

My class on the Christian Imagination has been irritating me because I don’t feel like I have an imagination. And I don’t feel like I appreciate beauty. And before this course, I’d never really thought of God as the source of all beauty, much less as beautiful. This is a real wrestle to me.

I tend to want to describe events as beautiful, or people as beautiful. It’s not often that I will attribute beauty to a poem or a symphony or a painting. It’s just that these things don’t tell me enough. I need words and descriptions and statements and ideas about the locus from which these pieces emerged. I want to know the people who created these things. That’s the only way I seem to appreciate most artwork. Is that elementary? Probably.

But anyways. Onto other things [arts-related].

When I was in high school, I really enjoyed keeping a photojournal. The idea of the assignment was to fill the journal with things which inspired you, ideas for future projects, photo strips from current projects, etc. I really liked doing it. However, after I’d handed in my journal for the last time (our teacher reviewed them periodically and assessed them for completeness/level of creativity), I was sad to realize that I probably wouldn’t keep doing a journal. I tried. I bought the same brand (which was the perfect book size) with clean paper just thick enough to prevent pen bleed, and I tried to keep creating after high school, but I just wasn’t happy doing it. There was no one to look at it. My [weird? conceited?] self did not want to create unless someone else was looking.

I’m still not sure how exactly I feel about that.

I went to a really neat art show the other week in the home of a new acquaintance of mine who lives in the Downtown Eastside. My cousin Chris was also showing stuff at the show. He had a sketchbook of his out as part of his displayed works. When asked, he described making the unfinished book available was a way to be vulnerable.

I told him about the photojournal thing that I described above. He said that maybe it’s because I am a storyteller. I need people to hear what I have to say.

Maybe.

To end, this is a photo of a self-portrait-y entry, from… well, actually from 4th year at UBC (I guess my creativity wasn’t completely depleted.) I found this verse scratched into a table in one of the student lounges and really liked it. I copied the profile from a recent photo of myself. Yep.

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