Complimenting Common Worship: sparking spiritual conversations

‘Show me an image of the invisible God.’*

Living Promise

Living Promise

“For as in Adam… so in Christ…”

'punishment that brought our peace'

‘punishment that brought our peace’

'punishment that brought our peace'

'Via Dolorosa' (Melbourne)

‘Via Dolorosa’ (Melbourne)

Crucified

Crucified

Seasons Turn

Seasons Turn

Seasons Turn (detail)Seasons Turn

Resurrection Stories

Resurrection Stories

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The Saints


We’ve all come across icons—intricately painted portraits of saints.
Like stained glass windows, icons were initially intended to be ‘the poor man’s bible’

These, instead, are  “n’icons” —short for not-icons.
They’re not icons because they’re not painted in the traditional style or colors.
They’re not of traditional materials.
They’re not representative of a saint.
They’re not to be kissed and venerated.
(There are a lot of rules around traditional icon painters and paintings…
& breaking those rules is…well….heretical.)

Icons have a pristine, smooth-as-bone surface—
33 coats of gesso…before they’re even painted…
N’icons have a rough, prefab/refuse base
(I’m imagining the poor rummaging through these ‘Bibles’
in some tip somewhere).
The base has its own prefab symbolism/sacred imagery
(it doesn’t need to be ‘suffused’ or ‘blessed’ with the sacred).
The base looks industrial—mechanical in color;
The symbols are enhanced with suggestive but not traditional colors.
(As you can imagine, the icon color code is very particular.)

(‘The Saints’: 12 is symbolic of ‘all’—all who are rescued by the cross of Christ.
As Jesus’ followers WE are the saints.)

As art, ‘n’icons’ ‘have no survival value, but’, as CS Lewis put it, they ‘give survival value’.
They symbolize a sacred message
And they symbolize bruised messengers.

(‘Black & Blue—the bruised saints’)

I’m intrigued that bruises bear the colors of the tabernacle—that tent where God almighty touched down in a wild mix of sensual aesthetics designed to his divine specifications:
Mottled badger skin
Red-dyed sheep’s skin
Woven goats hair
Linen curtains-blue, purple, and crimson-with gold clasps
If ever there were colors suggestive of the sacred, it’s these: gold-flecked ‘black & blue’

(We are the saints–the building blocks of the church-
we, along with those who’ve gone before us—many of whom bear bruises—
who’ve staggered in the steps of our rescuer–who was ‘bruised for our sins’.)

As in Adam all die…so in Christ will all be made alive.‘ I-IV

Silent Contentment

 

Contentment lies not Nor lies silenced  Crushed in compact circumstance— Rough refuse round But feathering her prickly nest In broody mood Lays Silent Emptying  To birth a fulsome joy
Silent Contentment
Contentment lies not
Nor lies silenced
Crushed in compact circumstance—
Rough refuse round
But feathering her prickly nest
In broody mood
Lays
Silent
Emptying
To birth a fulsome joy

Truth be not linear

See the apostle John, attentive and confused, leaning into Jesus as they share a final meal. Watch him, overcome and apprehensive, eavesdropping on Jesus’ final claim, ‘I am a king—born to give testimony to Truth.’ Inspired to serve this King and spread the Truth, he pens his account of Good News, ‘… [so] that you may believe.’ …but he ‘tells it slant’:

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Truth be not linear. Systems be disturbed. Word be becoming; But ‘becoming’ be not the Word.

Infinite be finite. Father equal son. Follower be founder. The found be lost in one.

Voice bear witness. Blatant draw a blank. Darkness masquerade as light. Truth-professed breed hate.

Pious be repugnant. Prince become waif. Healthy be the needy. Needy be the safe.

Signage be bewildering. Faith be bestowed. ‘They willed…but they couldn’t.’ Light be blinding and behold.

Sustenance be not food; Obedience be soul. Thirsty spill water. Outcasts be in the fold.

Fringe be en-framed; Fragile become famed. Down-sized be up-turned. Long-expected be strange.

Magnetic be repellent. Clairvoyant be misconstrued. Monarch straddle meekness. Mastery be servitude.

Minus one equal infinity. Father surrender son. Beloved be abandoned. Abandoned be three-in-one.

Masonry be blood and bone. Lamb be deity. Honour be other-worldly. Faith be surety.

Believing become seeing. Inanimate re-generate. Death be lithe and life. Oblique be testament.

*Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth’s superb surprise  As Lightning to the Children eased  With explanation kind  The Truth must dazzle gradually  Or every man be blind —Emily Dickenson

I am a king—born to give testimony to Truth.’ John 18:37  ‘This is written that you may believe…’  John 20:31

PUDDLE-JUMPING

(Oils on mirrors)

Mercury pools of flickering reflections mercury pools; flickering reflections
like oil spills on narrow pavementnavigating shifty shallows
huddle in puddles heaven-sent

ornate obstacles; mysterious mirrors
like tricksters capture runaway displays
of puddle-jumpers on THE WAY

carefree youth playful stoppuddle-jumpers
to float their sticks and paper boats
in sapphire lakes and palace moats

then hopping, skipping, stretching, risking
they grow to navigate the shifty shallows
the WHAT, the WHERE, their shades and shadows

it’s time the jumpers meet their match
when blinding glare the truth belies
a hint there’s more than meets the eye

ripple pool

now skidding, tripping, slipping, stopping
rainbow raindrop ripple pool
draws them in to face the WHO

mercifully the honest mirror
framed in ruts and muddy muddles
bares Christ in the trenches; Christ in the puddles

so jumpers dare to land in spaces
daunting places, where willing-he
pioneered path of grief to glory

peering faces (detail)peering facesmercury pools; flickering reflections
like oil spills on narrow pavement
huddle in puddles heaven-sent

where peering faces in dancing traces
of silver slip and glory spliced
display the blurry image of Jesus Christ

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Self portraiture

Bespeckled‘Mirrored’

Ground and mechanism merge to tell mirrored self-stories…though truthfully, ‘Everything is a self-portrait. A diary. Your whole drug history’s in a strand of your hair. Your fingernails. The forensic details. The lining of your stomach is a document. The calluses on your hand tell all your secrets. Your teeth give you away. Your accent. The wrinkles around your mouth and eyes. Everything you do shows your hand…your handwriting. the way you walk. which china pattern you choose. it’s all giving you away.’ Chuck PalahniukThe Thinker