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"Gladiolas-Red 2000" by Makoto Fujimura

"Gladiolas-Red 2000" by Makoto Fujimura

I read this great interview at The High Calling website with artist Makoto Fujimura about creativity and faith. Not much I can say that improves on what he says so well on his own. Sample:

“All of us are created to be creative in some way. We may not call ourselves artists or we may not be a professional artist; but creativity is an essence of being human. When you think about it, things that last in our memories are times when we were part of creating something. And, whether it be procreating, in terms of our families, or generating a business or creating an opportunity of mercy, or creating opportunities for people to hear the gospel—all of these are creative acts. And God calls us to that.”

Enough said. Go read it: part 1 and part 2.

Geez magazine's De-Motorize Your Soul Campaign

Geez magazine's De-Motorize Your Soul Campaign

As a professional communicator I have long been a fan of Adbusters magazine and publisher Kalle Lasn. They helped me stoke and maintain my more subversive nature in a sometimes stifling environment – and helped me always hold out hope that someday I could “use my powers for good.” But it was only recently that I became aware of the related publication/movement Geez magazine. Geez promotes “holy mischief in an age of fast faith.” They are, simply, Adbusters for Jesus freaks. I am liking them.

I just came across an idea, a program, a clarion call that Geez sent out several years ago but still rings true and is an idea whose time has not only come but is still aching for more support. Well, actually, the idea may not be aching for support but the earth is certainly aching for more humans to live out the idea.

The campaign is this: De-Motorize Your Soul. It blends many of my fave topics into one non-fossil-fuel-powered ball of slow-rolling goodness: God, sustainability and a powerful idea. It essentially calls us to move past oil and the ways it speeds up our lives (and the demise of our planet). The De-Motorize Your Soul campaign “frames the move away from oil as a practical experiment and an irresistible spiritual adventure.”

They’ve got a great list of spiritual exercises that include challenges like this:

– Take your soul off the road – go without motorized transportation for a day or more a week.

– Each time you walk out your front door pray: “Grant me the grace to go slow.”

In our home we’ve been trying our best to live post-car, post-oil for some time now (no small feat in Texas) and it has had a profound impact on us physically and spiritually. We’re not “there” yet, as it is a journey (like faith, like sustainability), but we’re on the path. As soon as you do not assume that you must go as fast and far as the rest of the modern world you start to prioritize things very differently, experience things in new ways, feel things more fully – and really understand how hard it is to extract yourself from dominant culture. It offers a perspective that can only be gained by self-imposing some outsider status on yourself – not a yoke many people take on willingly.

So, think about what you can do to De-Motorize Your Soul and feel the changes coming on. Every bit of the ride will not be smooth or pleasant but it will be fulfilling and it will bring you closer to God (though I have yet to find a map for that, exactly) through “irresistible spiritual adventure” and that makes it all worthwhile.

Last night I finally got to watch “What Would Jesus Buy?,” a film I have read about for over a year now (it was released in 2007). If you’ve ever dreaded the approach of another All-American Christmas Season or shuddered as you wondered if somehow there’s got to be more to our culture than shopping until we drop then this movie will warm your heart (but only after it has justified your fears).

The Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir are a prime example of taking a passion and yearning for something good and true and bringing it to life with creativity, humor and guts. Part vaudeville, part televangelist spoof, part activist road-show, this challenging church bravely confronts shopping Americans (are we really “consumers” or is that just what we’ve allowed ourselves to be labeled?) and urges them to pause to consider their purchasing habits – and the dominant culture that pushes them forward like lemmings over the cliff toward debt, dissatisfaction and soulless communities.

I found myself wishing I were on the tour bus with them, in the trenches viewing the American capitalist landscape through their determined, hopeful lenses (I’ve actually done this for years, only I wasn’t necessarily supported by a bus full of like-minded patriots). It would be like joining the circus for God and Country – but toward a new future and paradigm, not the current one in which that circus uniform is either Prada or military camouflage. No, performers in this new sideshow wear robes, laugh a lot, and hug you after they call your values into question.

We can’t all actually join the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, but we can become converts to the teachings of the church itself and Reverend Billy – and sing the songs we write for ourselves about a new way forward.

What creative ways can we eliminate waste, kill the cycle of addictive consumption, and build new communities based on real relationships, true love and a deeper call from the Creator? Watch this film and kick start your inspiration. C’mon brothers and sisters…can I get an “Amen!”?