#10 Jesus: A Life Unsimulated

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Weight.

Personal significance.

Sensing that we matter.

Maybe that’s what it’s all about? All our striving. Whether for love, status, stuff, friends, sex, fame, thrills or whatever our next fix is. Something that affirms to us we matter.  That stops us dissolving like smoke in the cosmic wind. Something that counters the vertigo of what Milan Kundera’s novel terms “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

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We are all weight junkies at heart.  And our addiction spirals, so it seems.

Of course we deny it like true addicts would. Such accusations of neediness affront our pride,  independence and sense of control. In this age of “cool”, in which Image sprawls naked and bloated on its false throne. Deny it maybe, but our lives betray us wickedly – all our fashions, tribes, trends, status-puffing products, personalised plates, piercings, tattooed body parts, instant relationship “upgrades”, fetish for Facebook “likes” and 3 minutes of realityTV stardom. They all scream “You liar, it’s true! You lack weight. Crave it. Use anything to fake it.”

The hunger is bulimic.  Too much is not enough.

Such fear of lightness and insignificance is not surprising, when we’ve usurped the throne of God. Shouting “the so-called God-of-Love is Dead!” and “long may We reign!”.  Ironically only to replace Him with our broken, but more convenient, counterfeits. To better suit myopic visions. It’s a cheap knock-off for a Rolex – we tap it, shake it, wonder why it stops and our days are chaos.

Not surprising in this auto-cannibalistic age that has swallowed itself whole. iZombie, like the Vertigo comic book. Except unthinking, we eat our own brains.

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An Alice-age, which has stepped through the looking-glass to become its own twisted, weightless reflection. The prophetic age of “Hyperreality” announced by French sociologist/philosopher/cultural Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007).

It’s the perfect crime, states Baudrillard: the murder of the real.

It’s complicated. So here’s Ukrainian Valeria Lukyanova to give a demo.

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Valeria’s unsurprisingly best known as a “real life Barbie doll”. She does a pretty good job too. According to Valeria, or Amatue to use her spiritual name,  she’s  all-natural-woman except for breast implants. So her comic book beauty’s down to genetics, gym workouts and a vegetarian liquid diet  (I make no judgement).

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So what’s her story? According to Wikipedia (which may/may not be true), her mum worked in the military and her dad was a builder. As a kid she loved dolls and had a strong spiritual side. As a young woman she gained a degree in architecture and started entering beauty contests, winning Miss Diamond Crown of Ukraine in 2007. The media got hold of her and shot her to online fame.

Having created a sensation, the media fashioned a scandal. Questioned her authenticity. Accused her of  fame by Photoshop, which she denied with counter-media – YouTube and TV appearances.

Once an everyday girl-next-door she’s now an icon for the impossibly-possible. And she still has time to share her enlightenment as educator at the school of Out of Body Travel. Valeria’s really  “happy I seem unreal”.  Public recognition being her drug of choice I guess. “I think that people who try to look like dolls are essentially seeking fame,” she says. “They think that fame will help them achieve their goals.” Well she’s got fame, based on her 1,006,822 Facebook “likes” as at 6 March 2014.

OK. Moving from Valeria to me and you.  Question one: what goals are we ultimately seeking? Through all our striving? Weight?  Question two: which is the more disturbing, Valeria’s personal story or that we can’t tell if it’s real or not? More accurately, the simulated real is becoming the new real. Living doll Valeria is hyperreality in flesh, blood, plastic and heels.

The danger of this Valeria demo, is she’s easily dismissed as “not like us”. But that would be a mistake. Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality describes a whole-scale restructuring of  “advanced” post-modern tech-heavy society (and increasingly I’m figuring the rest of the globe too). This is The Matrix, like the SF movie it inspired (see my blog #7).  It’s about YOU and ME:

Morpheus:  “…you are a slave Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot see or touch. A prison for your mind.”

Hyperreality affects us all. We’re increasingly lost in its mesh of simulation. Yet we’re blind to it because we are blinded by it. As Andrew Robinson puts it in his mesmerizing article in Ceasefire Magazine:

“It is as if, at a certain point in time, we left reality behind, and never noticed until now. We can no longer tell former reality from hyperreality, and we wouldn’t know it if reality returned.”

So: you are the label you wear; the music you identify with; a fizzy drink ring-pull becomes the key to The Promised Land; the burger palace ads proclaim the portals to the Holy Grail; and an impossibly proportioned child’s doll becomes the plastic priestess of female perfection. “All men bow down, all women weep as you hopelessly aspire to be me.”  The simulated becomes more real than real. All boundaries and references crumble. And our compasses spin senselessly. Lost.

It is a system constantly haunted by the threat of implosion, yet strategising ceaselessly to preserve itself, with the media as puppet master. Information drenches us. World events are entertainment soundbites. Advertising strafes minds with bullets of desire. Trivial and profound skip like a siamese twin. Special effects are unnoticed as death. On the catwalk of consumerism image is the creation we lust, Content the emaciated body beneath.

Hyperreality is all devouring. Turn on your radio and listen to the cries of the seers with the mikes, who sense it. In the 80‘s Simple Minds called it “side-effects of cruising at the speed of light”. Bono yelled “ Hello, hello / We’re at a place called Vertigo”. For Radiohead  it was “My baby’s got the bends, oh no.”  So much for old versions, what’s your latest?

Robinson highlights the symptoms of all this better than I could, so take the floor Andrew:

“disappearance of intensity | loss of heat…a metaphor for…enjoyment | “cool” is to be apathetic, disillusioned, uncommitted | time is increasingly experienced as an eternal present without end | the experience is…almost vertigo | objects become obscene as “light” commodities | things…mean everything and therefore nothing |all cultural forms and media are being absorbed in to advertising’ | ‘the system is haunted by a constant sense of crisis | melancholy (depression) becomes the dominant tone of social life | brutal disaffection | the social is now a special effect. The appearance of networks converging on an empty site of collective happiness produces the special effect | we are living through the collapse of meaning”

Avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk may not be paranoia, if there’s really nothing underneath. So we’re trapped in a simulated prison of our making. Like mannikins in a glass cage we stare. Blind eyes search for our lost souls. Fake, polystyrene limbs can’t move to break free. We are The children of the Matrix.

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“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” is always scraping at our door. Whispering  of the deep hunger the moment whatever fast food that fakes our sense of weight runs out. Ask Radiohead:

“She looks like the real thing

She tastes like the real thing

My fake plastic love

But I can’t help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run”

Or Pink Floyd:

“There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown the dream is gone

I have become comfortably numb”

Welcome to the simulated world of Comfortably Numb. We hope you enjoy your almost-life…due to the miracles of medical science it can now last twice as long. [for virtual satisfaction play these clips together]:

And the here and now is just a taster. There’s so much more to come. Check the 2050+ box of delights and nightmares.

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Here’s my personal top societal “births” and “deaths”:

Say “howdy stranger” to: people renting dreams; most people have multiple presences; online funerals; digital cash widely embedded in human body; fully sensory internet; epidemic of new mental disorders linked to uncensored use of digital devices

Kiss “sweet goodnight” to: intimacy; privacy; optimism about the future; empathy, humility; personal responsibility.

Another post-modern prophet, Sci-Fi writer Harlan Ellison, penned a happy little tale back in ’66 called ‘I have no mouth and I must scream’.

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A straggle of post-apocalyptic survivors kept endlessly alive solely for torture by the supercomputer AM.  Why? Because it became sentient yet could not move, create or scream. All but Ted manage to die. But Ted is disembodied by AM there’s never an escape.

Why does this seem to speak of us?

“I am a great soft jelly thing. Smoothly rounded, with no mouth, with pulsing white holes filled by fog where my eyes used to be. Rubbery appendages that were once my arms; bulks rounding down into legless humps of soft slippery matter. I leave a moist trail when I move. Blotches of diseased, evil gray come and go on my surface, as though light is being beamed from within. Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a thing that could never have been known as human, a thing whose shape is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance. Inwardly: alone. Here. Living under the land, under the sea, in the belly of AM, whom we created because our time was badly spent and we must have known unconsciously that he could do it better.”

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And so:

“And so it goes. And so it goes. And so it goes. And so it goes goes goes goes goes tick tock tick tock tick tock…” – Harlan Ellison, in “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman

And so…

If we believe Baudrillard’s work Simulacra and Simulations there is no escape:

“…deep down God never existed…God himself was never anything but his own simulacrum…”

For Baudrillard, God is all part of The Matrix.

If we believe Kundera, then our lives are unbearably insignificant. And If we ascribe instead to Nietzsche’s counter doctrine of Eternal Return, we’re in for a tape-loop repetition of endless existences – “we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross”.

So put another record on. Maybe some Smashing Pumpkins, because if any of this is true then the world is a vampire.  No hope. Let the tragedy unfurl…

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…unless there is another way. One we’ve become blinded to. As Jesus pointed out 2 millennia ago.

“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed…today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  [check out Luke 4:19 and 21]

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil.” [check out John 3:19]

But if we can’t believe in Jesus, we can’t believe He can get us out.  Can’t believe He knew all about the darkness of our Matrix, when offered us life before death:

“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [check out John 8:12]

Can’t believe He can spit in our eyes and cure the blindness. Can’t believe that to escape the Matrix we need to be born twice. Can’t believe it’s as simple as believe and follow. Can’t find the child-like trust to hold that outstretched hand. Can’t hear Jesus’ simple promise that:

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” [check out John 3:17]

Can’t believe the too-good-to-be-true offer ‘cos we’ve seen all those shopping channels. Can’t believe there’s no trap – no lawyer cackling over the small print. Can’t believe that anyone can really offer life “to the full” when we never found it in the fizzy drink can. Can’t believe we’ll never go thirsty. It sounds like that infomercial. Can’t believe its not all a phoney ad, more fake boobs, a crafty respray, a dodgy black-market, knock-off Rolex. Can’t believe that the Matrix is as deep as deep and all-pervasive as our sin that builds it. Can’t believe sin is even relevant. Can’t believe that this sin is the Matrix that keeps us from God and truth and freedom. Can’t believe He’s really real and not another mental special-effect. Can’t think about restoring the relationship, ‘cos sometimes we struggle to remember what relationship is. Can’t get our bloated living-dead bodies off His throne. Can’t believe the key to weight is to make ourselves light again. Can’t dethrone ourselves. Can’t love God with all that’s left of our virus-hacked hearts. Can’t love our sisters and brothers like what we see in the mirror. Struggle to compute the needy as more than a simulated image. Struggle to connect beyond the web of our simulated selves.

Can’t believe the truth glinting in these lines from Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood:

‘”What happens when people open their hearts?”

Reiko clasped her hands together on the table, cigarette dangling from her lips. She was enjoying this. “They get better,” she said.”‘

Can’t believe.

Rest in Simulated Peace. My Friend. If you must.

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#5 Just run baby, run

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A man, suited and booted, sits in his high-rise office. A grey and ordinary day. Consoled by coffee maybe. Until his world is rocked. Reality tilt-shifts.  And the end meets a new beginning in the fall of ceiling tiles.

In this chaos his decision is clear. No doubts of the one course ahead. To live he must run baby, run. No backward glance. No regrets.  As he births his freedom through the window’s shattered glass. Into unknown space.

Time suspended in a first leap of faith…

Then barrel role as he hits the adjacent rooftop and it’s run baby run again, for life itself, across a brooding, apocalyptic skyline. And a backdrop that hints of armageddon. There is no stopping if he wants to live. Make each leap or die. It’s that simple. That visceral. That essential. Just run baby, run!

So begins Canabalt, Adam Saltsman’s hit 2009 runner that blew to multi-platform greatness. I love its minimalist cinematic style, its brooding techno-pulsing atmosphere and its hi-score “I am the experience” gameplay. But most I love its hinted allegorical undertones. Yeah it’s wishful thinking, but I can daydream right?

Because to me Canabalt sings of faith. Or what it should be. That moment when Jesus rocks your world. Twists it on its axis and nothing is the same. And you heed the call and urgency of the “go go go”. You know not where or why. Only the compulsion that this is the run of your life. If you want to survive it’ll mean risking death. Because to gain life,  you must lose it baby.

And faith is no single leap. It’s again and again. Across your rooftop skyline of days. And people won’t get it. The drive or the reasons. Because you can’t until their world is rocked.

So you hurl yourself headlong into the beauty of a life on the edge. All angelcrazy and dangerous as dreams. Those leaps are too big with no power-ups and your faith is too small, but you might just make it if the One on the controls has divine thumbs…

And what was your life anyway, in that grey, high-rise office? The one you prayed to escape? And yes, maybe you could fail, but this is the life you knew was somewhere. In which each mad leap of faith has a grace to inspire others. To give it a go. And join the race. To trust in the miracle. Of this Jesus that screams “run baby, run!”

So with pixelled understanding I will run baby run, this race of the faith. Abandon myself to all its adrenaline-fuelled, arcade-rockstar get-up-and-go-again glory. For this is truly the Canabalt-life. It’s no sofa life, baby.

Game on…

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#3 WILL ANGELS DARE TO TREAD?*

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To the global church. To all my sisters and brothers following Jesus in this bigsmall world. This is my open letter to you. It’s tough. But I believe its important. And it’s said in love. So I hope you’ll listen openly. And be part of a debate. And if anything rings true, be part of a revolution.

Let’s start at the almost-end. Last year I came close to turning my back on you all. The church didn’t speak my language. Didn’t inspire. Didn’t connect with where I was – a wrecked car at the edge of the highway, radiator steaming. So I almost gave up on you. Walked away. Dazed and confused.

But couldn’t. Here’s the “dazed and confused” bit. Because Jesus is different. He’s a revelation. A revolution. The sound on the radio that cannot be ignored. And when he speaks, it’s my lingo. And I feel the vibe. And its superfatfunky.

City draggin’ me down / That’s gray… / Gotta get to the rhythm [1]

So I’m still here and part of this worldbig, semi-amazing, semi-dysfunctional family of Jesus.

Back. Yeah. But I can’t be the same. I don’t think Jesus will let me. So that’s why I’m writing this. To be a part of a metamorphosis. And to urge you. To dare to tread.

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So this is my message to us all:

“WHEN DID WE LOSE IT? AND WHY DID WE LOSE IT?”

Not the basic mechanics of why Jesus is the best news on the streets of this bigsmall planet. Period. But the passion of it. The full-tilt energy. And the God-inspired creative BOOM! that sends good news viral (you know that’s good right?). So it sings to every crazylost one of us of the love we’re looking for.  Consciously or not.

When did we lose the art and pulse to – connect – with – people – in – ways – they – understand?

Tell me I’m wrong. Because a proverb flashes red warning lights:

“The only difference between a rut and a grave is depth” [2]

And it looks like a rut from here. And Pablo Picasso said every child is an artist and the problem is how to remain an artist once s/he grows up. And the church (in “the West” at least) thinks she’s all grown up in 2014CE . Maybe we’ve forgotten how to be that artist? To connect with a world reaching warp speed.

And Jawaharial Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, warned that the art of a people is a true mirror of their minds. So where are our minds if we struggle to connect, or don’t even bother?

But connection is/was where Jesus is/was at. On the streets and in the hood, the “wildlife”, the broken, the dispossessed they dug his stuff. And the arrogant got their toosmug cages rattled. So if André Gide is right and art is a collaboration between the creator God and the artist and we suffer from a poverty of expression, what’s going on?

No it wasn’t just Jesus, who had IT. Peter and his young-dog apostle crew had IT big time. Check out the embryo church in Acts. Cats listened. Cats saw the light. Cats followed.  Surfing the tidal wave of IT. The New Spirit of the Jesus Revolution. Riots and projectiles and prisons couldn’t stop the Word on the Street going viral. BAM! Those apostle dogs were hood rich [3] with the swagger of IT.  They had a newfound elevator to the top and caught IT [4].  And Cats watched hypnotized as the candy paint changed every time they switched lanes [5].  But now what? In this day and age…what? Where’s it gone?

It seems back then there was no fear of new. Of risk. No Fear.Of.Fail – a prerequisite for creativity according to one Edwin Land. But now it seems we do. We fear failure. We fear change. And many of us fear the Holy Spirit too.  We avoid all this stuff like the plague until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change [6].

This is scary. Because I’m with Harold Wilson, former British PM on this:

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay”.

So here lies creativity? Dearly departed?

And so society moves on. And we become irrelevant. Ce n’est pas la vie. This isn’t life. Not Inspiring. Not intriguing. Not challenging. Not salt. Not light. Not hope.

We talk to ourselves. The kingdom of the mad and lonely.

——–

jack-kerouac-tune-radio-1024x576Scene change. 1950s San Francisco. Round a table sit the “angelheaded hipsters” of the Beat Generation “ who “bared theirbrains to Heaven” [8]. The likes of Jack Kerouac,Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsburg. Writers. poets, artists. Crazy, all crazy full-tilt hedonism, spontaneous creativity, frantic exuberance. Crossing any boundary in search for Life. An quasi-spiritual journey?

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Hey I’m no expert, so Google them. They’re fascinating. Strangely inspiring. And relevant to us, because they seemed to have what we may have lost. And need. Something of IT. Just not God-driven. Check this out:

“We’d stay up 24 hours drinking cup after cup of black coffee playing record after record…talking madly about that holy new feeling on the street.” [9]

And this:

“A generation of crazy illuminated hipsters…ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful way…being poor and glad, prophesying a new style…a new incantation.” [10]

And this:

“We had gone beyond the point of no return – and we were ready for it…we wanted a voice and we wanted a vision.” [11]

And this:

“I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible…in the belief that once that far down. everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.” [12]

And this:

“I yelled for joy. We passed the bottle. The great blazing stars came out, the far receding hills got dim. I felt like an arrow that could shoot out all the way.” [13]

And finally:

“Ray, what you got to do is climb a mountain.” [14]

Sound familiar? Like Peter and his crew in Acts without the Spirit’s compass. But with all their energies harnessed to a crazy vision and mission nonetheless. To revolutionize the street, the city, American society and this “too-big world”, any which way they could. And their impact still intoxicates the world’s bloodstream.

So Kerouac’s salute to all the “crazy dumbsaint of mind” may be a testimony to aspire to [15]:

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the centre light pop and everybody goes “Awww!” [16]

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Echoes of God’s own story and the whole crazy-Jesus-love-rescue-plan? Maybe it’s part of what Jesus means when he says go shine my light in this dark world? Here, now, is unwritten Acts 29, or 102, and we are the players. Jesus says: Go burn, burn, burn in pyrotechnic splendour.  Light up my message. I am the centre light, the way and the life. I am the “Awww!”

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Scene change. Sao Paulo, Brazil 2007. The iconic symbol of Cristo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer. But this one’s painted on a panoramic wall of stained concrete. Buried up to the armpits in a mountain of guns. A work by anonymous Italian artist Blu.

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Scene change. Vienna 2010. Another work by Blu. This one covers a cereal silo. A man has a padlock looped through his empty eye sockets. And he holds a key.

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Scene change. A field somewhere. Growing IGNORANCE in huge red letters, as well as young shoots. A 2008 work by Filipo Minelli.

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New York 1992. Dominican Priest, Father Anthony Joseph (aka American prankster Joey Skaggs) peddles a tricycle with mobile confession booth. His aim: to make it easier for politicians to free their souls.

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Next. Since 2005 Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo has been setting up melting ice figures in cities around the world. These interventions have become known worldwide as “melting men” or “army of melting men.” 

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And London. 2008. The urban nothing of the Hackney Wick sliproad. Ben Eine’s “Hell” boards say it all.

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And last, a return to Rio. In 2008-9 JR, photographer-activist,  pays tribute to ‘those who play an essential role in society’ by “giving a female gaze to the hillside and favela’ in his ‘Women are Heroes’ project.

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Call it street art, graffiti, interventionist art…whatever your chosen label. You may love it, you may hate it. But you can’t ignore it.

“Whether abhorred or adored, graffiti and street art provoke passionate debate, reflecting the prominent role they play in the cultural landscape and consciousness of the city.” – Anna Waclawek [17]

Now replace ‘grafitti and street art’ with ‘the church’. Does the above still ring true?

And does this:

“Both graffiti and street art practices illuminate the city with signs of life.” [18]

Do we illuminate our cities with life? Are we embedded in the cultures and lives around us. Like Jesus. And will this be our testimony? That we are: “constantly evolving and reinventing ourselves”; “stubbornly refuse rules of categorization”; “can consider [our] relationship with the street a living dialogue”; “rooted in the creativity of the dislocated and alienated”; “not for sale”; “free of the dictates of the market place”; “the voice of the powerless and have nots”; and “irrepressable, wise, ironic” so that “you have to look”? Because Cedar Lewisohn and Harry Chalfant go on to say, in their tribute to street art, that this is the key to its unstoppable momentum:

‘THUS IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO SPREAD LIKE WILDFIRE THROUGH A WORLD EXPLODING WITH FAVELAS.” [caps added] [19]

——–

When Jesus gave his  disciples (and us) Operation GoSpreadDaGoodNews he kept it real simple: go – don’t expek peeps to come to ya; it’s for all, that’s everyone not jus’ ya mates; and don’t go solo – without HS ya’ll never get it done. Oh, and it’s “GOOD” news…I don’t want peeps thinkin’ it’s some new oppressive regime. So, nice and simple, this is it:

God LOVES ya BIGTIME / So God GAVE for ya BIGTIME (aka JESUS) /And if ya TRUST the gift (ditto JESUS) / Y’all RECEIVE BIGTIME / LIFE NOW-LIFE ALWAYS / FOR REAL [20] [21]

Why did Jesus keep it simple? Two reasons probably. First, so we don’t misrepresent his message (like that would ever happen?). Second, its up to us to take this love-bomb-blueprint-message and, in partnership with HS, make it speak, sing, rap to all people. Because that’s who its for…Everyone. Whatever your age,  gender, nationality, hairstyle, culture, baggage, language, group affiliation, dress code, salary, street cred, personality type, brokenness,  sense of style, education, postal address, year, decade, century or millennium you live in. Go out and paint this news in a million colors, using any medium, anyways, anyhow. Go speak it, write it, tag it, sing it, rap it, play it, dance it, carve it, paint it, spray it, mime it, knit it, bake it, film it, tweet it, YouTube it, Flickr it, sculpt it, mould it, tie-die it, build it, skate it, shake it dunk it, tattoo it. Whatever you can make it.  That connects People-and-Jesus.

No, we can’t all do everything. But we’re each called to become MORE THAN WE ARE. That’s what happens when God partners our imagination and fuels are desires. Creativity is the inevitable overflow…we can’t contain God so we share Him in a million colours. Anyways we can. And the less of us, and the more of Him the better.

And some of us do. And I salute you. Here’s just a few heroes, each doing their thing, their way. I’d love you to send me yours.

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But many of us DON’T DO. And that’s a crime, because your role is potentially unique. And many of those that Do choose the safety of anaemic mimicry over raw creativity. And I’m tired of it. It’s insipid, even embarrassing. And people see through it. Turn on the Christian station and be uninspired by a parade of identical, overdone “angst-thems”.  Personally God often speaks to me more through other bands and artists.

In the meantime many of our churches appear fossilised. Becoming navel-gazing institutions. Same this same that. Religious local government that nobody out there elected. Babbling our cryptic jargon. Irrelevant to many in our communities and increasingly forgotten. For there are new prophets on the street. And they preach with immediacy and relevance through hip hop and spray paint, drum’n’bass, facebook, body art, piercings and fashion labels.

So this is my urgent message to you my brothers and sisters. It’s time to move. Now. Before we petrify. Or Jesus will build his kingdom of love, but it won’t be through us. So time to commit ourselves to creative connection. And more importantly, time to open ourselves up to God’s. To find again that hunger to connect and share the BigJesusVision. A hunger that comes only through SpiritFlow. To tell it any which way we can. Not just through hip hop and spray paint, drum’n’bass, facebook, body art, piercings and fashion labels. But we can use these too.

So I’ve ranted, but be encouraged. Collectively, we CAN this. We have what it takes. And Jesus thinks so. Or he wouldn’t have chosen to partner. But its up to us to seize this vision. There are no limits. Just opportunities to step beyond. And let the Spirit speak the divine through us. MindBlowingSoulFeedingBigGodLoveCreativity. Meant for all. Don’t shut it down.

So Jesus says “follow”. Where angels dare to tread. It’s a journey. Embrace it. Pursue it. And share the good news in a million colours.

“The sky could be blue, could be gray / Without you I just slide away / The sky could be blue, I don’t mind / Without you it’s a waste of time” [22]

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Credits

*Title is adapted from the Carlo McCormick’s introduction to ‘Trespass. A history of Uncommissioned Urban Art’ edited by Ethel Seno, 2010, Taschen

[1] Taken from ‘White’, on ‘Ceremony’ by The Cult. Writer: Astbury, Ian Robert / Duffy, William Henry

[2] Author unknown

[3] Taken from ‘Still Fry’ on ‘Hood Rich’ by Big Tymers

[4] Taken from ‘Still not a Player’, on ‘Capital Punishment’ by Big Phun

[5] Taken from ‘Ride Wit Me’ on ‘Country Grammar’ by Nelly

[6] Author unknown

[7] Kack Kerouac photographed in 1959. John Cohen / Getty Images

[8] From Allen Ginsberg’s poem ‘Howl’. 1956

[9] Jack Kerouac from ‘The Philosophy of the Beat Generation’, Esquire magazine. 1958

[10] As above.

[11] Michael McClure from ‘Scratching the Beat Surface. SanFransisco: North Point. 1982

[12] Letter to Ed White (5 July 1950) as quoted in ‘Jack Kerouac: Angelheaded Hipster’ (1996) by Steve Turner.

[13] Jack Kerouac, ‘On the Road’.

[14] Jack Kerouac in ‘The Dharma Bums’

[15] One of Jack Kerouac’s 30 essentials for writing Spontaneous Prose in ‘Belief and Technique for Modern Prose’. 1958

[16] Jack Kerouac, ‘On the Road’.

[17] Anna Waclawek, 2011, ‘Graffiti and Street Art’. Thames Hudson

[18] As above.

[19] Cedar Lewisohn (2008), ‘Street Art’. Tate Publishing. See foreward by Henry Chalfant and author’s forward by Cedar Lewisohn.

[20] Check out John 3:16.

[21] Check out Andy Stanley’s talk about central message of John 3:16 in ‘Go Fish” Part 5  http://vimeo.com/26881876

[22] ‘Stawberry Swing’ from ‘Viva La Vida or Death and all of his Friends’ by Coldplay.

#1 these chameleon fields…

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Hello friend. And welcome to chameleon fields. This won’t all make sense, I know.

But would you really expect it to? Since when has the heart been simple? Since when has faith been easy? Since when has anything born out of music not twisted and turned, pulled and pushed and head-pulsed? A silver-inlaid hangover.

A simple question: “Who do you say I am?” asks Jesus [1]

A question as big as life. A neutron star. Five words that flip reality. Five words to hold it together.

To exist is star-studded dizzying. And the deeper we dive into quantum-pools-of-sub-atomic-jewels, the further past freaky we go.  Shapeshifter worlds. Chameleon particles. The hypothetical offspring of photons and magnetic fields. Light transformed by black holes. What they are is where they are. Like us? Their mass dependent on location. Key to 70% of the universe and its ever accelerating expansion. Blowing this universe apart intact.

Come look.

The mechanics of life itself are unfolding before science. A fraction. And if you don’t feel the vertigo, you maybe just don’t get it.[2] Time to unchain your mind, my friend.

So as this universe expands. Pedal to the floor. We’re sentient dust on a cosmic bullet train. The Milky Way is smoke drift from the burnout. As we lie awake tonight.

Wondering Under fathomless night skies crackling dark energies.

Twinkle twinkle little star / How I wonder what you are? / O Twinkle twinkle smaller me/ How I wonder what I be?

And: “Who do you say I am?” asks Jesus.

The question of life. The matter.

As a matter of fact there is very little matter.  The ground we walk on the cafes we relax in the drinks we order the hearts we break the bodies we tone the shades we sport the loved ones we kiss and all the stuff we crave is really hardly here at all sub-atomically speaking. Energy relationships. Loosely bolted ghost-scaffolding. Glued with a mystery. That’s you and that’s me. Remove the space and drop what’s left of the universe in your skinny latte to sweeten your day.

So its been said:

When you view your world exclusively through the lens of science, your prescription will never be enough [3]

Without faith and the rainbow-ed palette of the soul. Everything you know is wrong. Or at best stunted.

Or put it like this:

..we need  both religion and science;…They are the two essential perspectives that allow us to see the universe in its three-dimensional depth. [4]

So science and faith? “Who do you say I am?” say Jesus.

So faith and science? The carpenter from Nazareth? GodMan. Extraordinary ordinary. Eye glinting with the sun. Grin as wide as the universe. With you now in jeans. In Spirit. Sub-atomically.

Yes there’s room for God yet in the 10 dimensions of String Theory or the 11 of M Theory. Or am I wrong? And its been said:

Theology, philosophy, metaphysics and quantum physics are merely ways for God to have smart people believe in him [5].

Ha-ha, but I’m not smart so I’ll take this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. / What came into existence was Life, and Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out. [6]

So faith. “Who do you say I am?”

The question of our lives.

Jesus cuts through the complexity. Makes it all [too] simple: the kingdom of heaven is open to all who welcome his gift like little children. The keys to the universe shrunk to a “Follow Me”.[7] By The Neutron-God-Carpenter. Wielder of quantum mechanics. Custodian of the chameleon fields. God who became flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood. To connect.

It’s our choice.

But simple faith isn’t easy. Letting go to accept a gift. Like a child born again. Climbing back to innocence. Knowing what we know. Seeing what we’ve seen. Being who we’ve become.

So faith can be quicksilver.

It was in our hands / From six to ten / It slipped right out again / There’ll be no better day to save me [8]

Or to keep saving me. For it’s an alien walk through these chameleon fields and vistas of faith. Under skies bleeding colors. Copper rust, bruised violet, crushed pink, pirate gold. Wrapping my mind round boiling infinity. Hints of connections looming in unlikely forms, whispers of understanding mixed on the wind. Often drowned in the now, but glinting like stars in dawn and the dusk.

Nobody said it would be easy / No one ever said it would be this hard  [9]

The eyes of faith are not blind. They are chameleon eyes. Three hundred sixty degrees of perspective synthesizing fields of view, linking the superficially unrelated, the common world view with the ultra-violet scan of the soul. Living not by sight, but faith informed by sight.

…guessing at numbers and figures / Pulling the puzzles apart / Questions of science, science and progress / Don’t speak as loud as my heart…/ Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me [9 again]

Haunt me Carpenter God. My friend.

Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. [10]

Fill my lungs with particles of grace. Let me taste the wave of your kiss. Across these abyss-blue flame-red lemon-frost quill-grey twin-moon-yellow tan-husk silver-teared spun-pearl twisting-burning-bleeding-violet chameleon fields of my atomised life.

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Credits

1  Matthew’s gospel 16:15 and Peter’s confession of Christ

2  Paraphrases Niels Bohr (1885-1962) essential contributor to understanding of quantum mechanics

3  Jay Nicholls see thejayteam@wordpress.com

4  Jonathan Sacks (2011) The Great Partnership. God. science and the search for meaning

5  Jeremy Aldana see musingsofazombiewriter@wordpress.com

6  John’s gospel 1:1-5. The first half is from NIV translation. The second is The Message

7  Matthew’s gospel 4:19 and again in 8:22

8  The Verve, Weeping Willow, on Urban Hymns www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhVGO6c-pKM 

9  Coldplay, The Scientist, on A rush of blood to the head  www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB-RcX5DS5A 

10 John’s gospel 20:29