Doxology – Background
As general rule, always follow an apostle’s suggestion, because some strategic and wonderful experience with God and His people will almost certainly follow.
For me, that means listening carefully when Shannon Hopkins says I need to meet this or that person, consider doing this or that thing, get involved with this or that project. She has a gut instinct, led by the Spirit, and God consistently works through her in truly amazing ways to help catalyze truly amazing connections.
I met Rob Pepper and Aimie Littler in February of this year, through Shannon. Through them, I was welcomed into the first Doxology community, which has formed around Rob’s art exhibit. And it has been both a redemptive and transformative experience for me at multiple levels.
More on that later. But first, some set-up. I’ll let Rob explain his Conscious Reflex Drawing technique himself at http://www.robpepper.co.uk. There you can also view scans of his original drawings which he enlarged to 4 foot by 6 foot panels for the Doxology exhibit. This exhibit will be traveling for quite some time, and a book is forthcoming. The book will contain responses that friends of Rob, old and new, wrote to the 13 Doxology pieces. (Rob asked a combination of men and women, old and young, single and married, from a range of spiritual and philosophical backgrounds to respond to one piece each, and write about their experience of Jesus through viewing it.) Be sure to watch for details on when the book is available. I think it will be a stunning combination of artwork and perspectives!
Anyway, Rob also invited people on his “creative team” to write other material as well. So, as a cultural interpreter, I focused some of my Doxology background writings on why we need this exhibit, and what it does for us. Here is an excerpt from what I wrote:
Why We Need Doxology
Global civilizations are experiencing the angst of social gridlock, and everyone is holding down their horn, as if s/he who honks loudest can magically clear the way for the culture’s traffic to again flow freely.
Our own Western civilization has endured this kind of seismic social shift before in the tumultuous transition periods in between the long stretches of classical, medieval, and enlightenment eras. However, this time will likely be far different, both qualitatively and quantitatively. More generations and value sets and paradigms are vying for the same cultural space than at any other time in human history. And, because of advances in technology and communication, a transition that previously would have taken a century or more might now take mere decades. That means the inevitable culture clash is far more intense, or, in the words of David Harvey from The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, it represents extreme “time-space compression.”
It is not just that de(con)structive voices for so many value systems compete for our attention. It is difficult to find a forum in which to consider how best to live constructively in the midst of rare cultural turmoil like this that happens perhaps once in a thousand years. Of times like this, the Chinese have a proverb that I have seen quoted in some places as a curse and others as a blessing: “May you live in interesting times.”
To consider best directions in these “interesting” times, I believe we need an opportunity where we do not get crowded – we need somewhere less dense, with more physical and mental space. We should not be rushed – we need somewhere less intense, with a more leisurely and reflective pace. We should not feel anxious – we need somewhere less incensed, with a more open and welcoming grace.
. . . Doxology offers the kind of space, pace, and grace for a more gentle consideration of our situation. . . .
(For the rest of that essay and more, we’ll have to wait for the Doxology book to see what gets included.)
Doxology and Decompression
I sensed that my participation in the Doxology premiere in Houston last week would be an important experience, and that the physical and spiritual journeys involved would both be part of that experience. So, I took my own advice, and took a two-day bus trip from the Bay Area to Houston as a way to slow my own pace and decompress from the usual stresses of travel.
And yes, I knew I’d face other kinds of stresses, since buses go round the clock. There would be odd hours for meals, lots of vending machines and fast food, and who knew what kind of people might sit beside you – perhaps some talking constantly and others saying nothing.
But think about how we usually travel. We rush-rush-rush to finish all our work at the office, since the world would most certainly end if we didn’t get all of that pile of stuff done in time. Then we rush-rush-rush to get packed, go to the ATM, do final emails, list out the cellphone calls we must make on the airporter bus and in the terminal. Of course, that last call gets cut short when the pilot gives us the final warning to stop all electronic devices. Then we rush-rush-rush once we get to wherever is our destination, vacation, or situation. Then we go like wildfire to “enjoy” the time by packing in as much as possible. Then we rush-rush-rush back as late as possible so we can rush-rush-rush back to the office the next morning, bright and early (usually without the bright!).
So, what’s the point? Can’t always live life on espresso, can we. Well, of course we can, but then, perhaps the better question is, Should we? I keep going back to the crystallizing question implicit in the title of the book Hyperculture: The Human Cost of Speed.
So, anyway, I took a 48-hour trip by bus, in part as a choice to opt out of the usual hypercondensed madness of travel. But there were other reasons as well. For instance, my time back in Marin has been so intense, with relocating once a week on average, that all I’ve had the energy for is to work, go “home, ” rest as much as possible, and then repeat the cycle. I really haven’t made any new friendships other than with additional people at church or work – all Christians. So, it’s been a relationally sheltered year as I’ve traveled through this tunnel. A bus trip would give me an opportunity to unplug from that isolation and reconnect with humanity.
Also, one of the key aspects of Rob’s Conscious Reflex Drawing technique is the distinction between associations and experience. Using this technique, he breaks free of faulty assumptions and prejudgments and baggage from the past about Jesus so that he experiences Jesus directly. I’m sure we all have preconceptions about who travels by bus rather than flies or drives or takes a train. Are those assumptions accurate? And even if there are elements of truth behind the stereotypes of bus travelers, wouldn’t Jesus want us to break free of those, be there in the midst of those crowds anyway, and experience them directly as individuals instead of associatedly with categories, labels, and judgments that marginalize them as a group?
So, I decided to go stealth on the Greyhound to Houston, but to keep asking myself how Greyhound Jesus would view all that would happen, and how He would interpret what He experienced …
Read about my experience of “Greyhound Jesus.”
Originally posted October 13, 2005, on futuristguy’s Randomocities.