Thank you to all the folks who made Friday night such a great event! There were poems read, toasts given, songs written, led, and plenty of sine, pizza, pies, coffees, laughs and tears shared. I am so grateful to have a group of friends and colleagues forming in Cincinnati. It was a blast! Special thanks to the folks at Moria's Pies, Deeper Roots Coffee, and Jay Valerio for the food and drinks.
Its out TODAY! Check out Amazon or Paraclete Press to get a copy (it will be out on Kindle later in the month. If you're in Cincy or want me to mail you a signed copy shoot me at note at troy (at) ChurchAsArt (dot) com.
Here are a few excerpts:
God was so enthralled with a life of loving connectedness that God loved into existence a world with the same potential. Like a painter setting out with an end in mind, God imagines and engineers a world continually unfolding as an expression of God’s own original love. It’s almost as if God were standing at the future, lovingly drawing creation forward.
Each time God’s Spirit shows up, she is hovering over the unexplored potential. God does not rush the process. From the very beginning of time as scripture depicts it, we see the Spirit of God, as a patient artist, okay with the “unfinished” potential in the story. God is at home with things as they unfold.
As God’s creative project unfolds, each session’s work seems to speak to God as well about the next day’s work. The kind of listening we are talking about is not the same as acknowledging noise or words. This is at the core of what it means to be an artist: perceiving. The potter, the poet, and the person who prays each have to read between such lines. They have to listen through to what is felt at the core. Jesus used a quote about this from Isaiah in defense of his use of parables. Some, he said “ seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand” (Mat 13:13 NRSV).
Art is like life in this way: the raw ingredients, the various materials and mediums that you intentionally engage with affect the art you make... Focusing on process alone would be like describing a painter without talking about the choices in pigment and canvas, without asking about the use of perspective, color, or tone, and with no attention to the place or day and age in which she painted. Its like an actor reading a script cold, no background story, no research, no setting, posture, accent or pathos. Attention to process it enriched by when we pay as much attention to the ingredients.
This is a book for the driven in us all, those activists, creatives, and passionate Jesus people who can develop creative block when we avoid risk or rest.
I'm excited for the many pieces yet to come. Jonathan Stegall, Travis Eckmark and Jason Orme have been working on an updated troybronsink.com website that should roll out soon. The folks in Cincy meeting weekly for a book creative group are helping develop group materials, and some plans for a video trailer and possibly more are underway.
I'm curently setting tour dates for 2013, to speak as well as share music. If interested please shoot me a note about that as well.
I'm thrilled to announce the release of my upcoming spiritual & creative leaders book, Drawn In. Its designed for artists, activist, and Jesus followers looking for ways beyond the Right-Brain drain and culture wars of modern Christianity. I walk readers through emerging design thought and ancient practices using biblical and pop culture imagery. While utilizing design models its more poetic than didactic in its approach. It is my most exciting work yet toward expressing my passion that beauty and creativity can draw both the church and artists into deeper collaboration with God and God's kingdom!
Here's what folks are saying:
“...A book that combines the passion of the Wild Goose Festival and the creative insights of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, with a dash of “new monastic” spirituality and a pinch of Brueggemannian theological sensibility... Great exercises. Excellent for small group discussion.”
– David O. Taylor, editor of For the Beauty of the Church
“This fresh vision of God and ourselves draws us (rather than drives us) into a new way of being. Drawn In will introduce many to a gifted writer, reflective artist, and practical theologian sure to contribute much to the life of the church for decades to come.”
– Brian D. McLaren, author of New Kind of Christian
“This is one of the finest books on art, creativity, and the nature of God to date. It is no less than a manifesto: a call to co-create life at the grandest and most humble of scales. To make and remake the world with passionate and tangible love. Stunning, from start to finish.”
– Sally Morgenthaler, author or Worship Evangelism
“Troy Bronsink is deeply rooted in a seriousness about Gospel faith. He explores the recognition that faith cannot be held in the familiar categories of concept, proposition, rule or cliché, but is always moving toward new possibilities.”
– Walter Brueggemann, author of Prophetic Imagination
I know I've been MIA, here's the latest and some of what is brewing in me... We're preparing our house and family life for our second kid, due September 28. I'm cultivating the early years of Neighbors Abbey's work in SW Atlanta and the emerging church planting that is a part of it. Joshua Case and I have been teaming up on some Church as Art emerging worship coaching projects for this fall. I'm still working with the Village Counsel of Emergent Village as we live into our being a Village green. And I'm in the middle of curating worship for Clayfire, writing a chapter for an upcoming festschrift by Ryan Bolger about hyphenated emerging projects, curating music for City Church Eastside, and writing my first full length book for Paraclete Press about the intersection the Aesthetics and God's Mission. This book (provisionally titled, "Getting Drawn In") is about the creative nature of God's mission, and our own awakening to God's calling as we step into creative and intentional lives. In researching all this I came across an old book of poems called The Singer by Calvin Miller referred or given to me by my friend Ty Saltsgiver in the 90s. In it I found this chapter XII entitled"In hell there is no music—an agonizing night that never ends as songless as a shattered violin":
"Sing the Hillside Song" they cried. There were so many of them. He wasn't even sure he could be heard above the din of all their voices. He walked among them and looked them over. In his mind he knew that the Father's Spirit wanted each of them to learn his song.
Someone in the sprawling crowd stood and handed him a lyre. "Sing for us please Singer—the Hillside Song!"
"Yes, yes," they called, "the Hillside Song"
He looked down at the lyre and held it close. He turned each thumb-set till the string knew how to sound, then he began:
"Blessed are the musical," he said, "for their's shall be never-ending song."
"Blessed are those who know the difference between their loving and their lusting, for they shall be pure in heart and understand the reason."
"Blessed are those who die for reasons that are real, for they themselves are real."
"Blessed are all those who yet can sing when all the theater is empty annd the orchestra is gone."
"Blessed is the man who stands before the cruelest king and only fears his God."
"Blessed is the mighty king who sits behind the weakest man and thinks of all their similarities."
"Earthmaker is love. He has send his only Troubadour to close the Canyon of the Damned."
Then they broke his song and cried one with one voice, "Tell us Singer, have you any hope for us? can we be saved?"
"You may if you will sing Earth- makers's Song!"
"Is there another way to cheat the Canyon of the Damned?"
"None but the Song!"
The beauty of Miller's language here, to me, is that there is a song that wants to be played. There is a way out of loneliness and despair, that comes with willfully listening to the song within... And that you can't short cut that listening pathway with some kind of formula or group membership. We have to keep listening, and singing.
HERE'S THE SCOOP...
GENERATE Magazine has been an open, collaborative project in the works for more than six years now. And after many casual conversations — and the 2009 convening of an editorial team — we are ready and eager to involve you, the larger community, in helping realize this dream with us.
The seeds for GENERATE Magazine were sown sitting around a fountain in San Diego in 2004 — a few writers, poets, artists and designers explored and dreamed about launching a print publication that would embody the ethos and tell the stories of the growing, generative conversation that some have called the emerging church conversation.
Again at the 2007 Emergent Gathering, another planning group was convened to discuss logistics, bring some leadership to the dream, and get things rolling. GENERATE Magazine is the fruit of many months of their planning.
VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS?
Art provides resistance and lift to what the Spirit of New Creation is generating. The beauty that artisans fashion, sing, and perform can testify to what is possible and evoke imagination for what is yet to come. We are drawn to paintings and songs that put us "in play." GENERATE aims to fashion a synthesis of such works of art, and to celebrate the lives of their creators, in order to put our readers in play as well.
GENERATE exists as a forum to retell the stories of the grassroots communities and individuals who are finding emergent and alternative means to follow God in the Way of Jesus. We hope to create an artifact of this historical conversation. These stories will be transmitted through narrative, works of visual art, documented performances, verse, fiction, non-fiction, essays, and interviews.
We/you are the conversation; our art, our lives, our hopes and failures all meet up with God’s approaching dreams for creation. We converse and in doing so spread the news that we are not alone — that joy is found in our generative friendship.
GENERATE Magazine is a grassroots-organized, independent publication affiliated as a friend of Emergent Village, but not affiliated with any publishing house. We are currently exploring ways to distribute GENERATE Magazine via the Emergent Village Cohorts and wider friendships. More on that in the days to come.
I am reading a book that Doug Pagitt lent me, Presence:Human Purpose and the Field of the Future (2004 Society for Organizational Leranign Inc. : Peter Senge, C.Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Flowers).
It ties together quantum theory, emerging creative systems, and education... so far.
I will make periodic posts as I go on this read.
Parts and Wholes:
everything is related. Since the industrial revolution most of society has thought in terms of machines. We assume a whole is made up of many parts, and wholeness depends on each part working effectively. Living systems do not work the same way. "Unlike machines, living systems, such as your body or a tree, create themselves. They are not a mere assemblage of thier parts but are continually growing and changing along with their elements." (3). The authors site Buckminster Fuller for holding up his hand and asking, what is this?" To which he would respond, a hand is not a static thing, "what you see it not a hand... Its a 'patterned integrity,' the universe's capacity to create hands" (4).
The hand is a concrete demonstration of the possibility of hand-ness. In fact, the cells in your hand replace themselves in less than a year and a half. Meaning: the matter crammed and ordered together that you are your using to scroll up or down your browser did not belong to your body 18 months ago--- ashes to ashes and dust to dust, huh? Dieing and rising is not a one time thing, we are continually being converted as participants in the Way of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is continually sending new information, new circumstances, new relationships, new possibilities for us to step into. And this in not only true about individuals, but also about systems, families, organizations, and... churches.
However, A living system's ability to re-create itself, "depends on our level of awareness, both individually and collectively." The authors of presence suggest that "The basic problem with new species of global institutions is that they have not yet become aware of themselves as living" (7).
This makes me wonder the same thing about the church. Do Presbyterians or non-denominational CCM churches recognize that they are a whole made up of parts that are continually growing. Are we able to suspend our current self understandings long enough to imagine new ways of participating in God's future revealed as the kingdom of God? And so the question of learning becomes significant. How do we change our thoughts and actions to include this kind of awareness? That will be the next post.
I've subscribed to Image journal for several years and don't always get to read the whole thing. But I love the work of Image's chief editor, Gregory Wolfe. So I recently picked up the book, Intruding Upon the Timeless, with selections of his contributions to the journal between its beginning in 89 until 2003. So I'll drop snippets of my readings as we go...
I'll be speaking in October at an Atlanta event organized by Progressive Christian Cooperative, called The Beloved Community: From Formation to Action. I met Kimberly, the inventor behind this, through the Emergent Cohort and have begun to learn from her passion to bring innovative practice of spiritual formation into the human right advocacy circles as well as advocacy into spiritual formation circles. So, though the event is in October our conversations this summer and my talk are simmering on one of my back burners along with what I've been reading by Wolfe.
In Wolfe's article "Silence Cunning and Exile" (quoting James Joyce) I was stuck by the fellowship between beauty and suffering. Almost in a vin diagram sense, these two vivid themes, beauty and suffering, overlap in the costs to access them and the effect the evoke. They have an admission and an affect. They both beg a question that is never answered until the spirit/body s t o p s and in silence hears/feels/knows LOVE. Eyes to see and ears to hear...
And so beauty and suffering, the teleological signpost of the artists and the prophet, are met in silence. These are not "the ends" they are the signs. But signs are how we see, they are the things that compel us when we see through glass dimly, when we only have a lamp for our feet and light on our path, while death valley's shadows remain. No activist can afford to stay plugged in at every movement to her iPhone, and the ticker at the bottom of CNN, and the moving messages of injustice and need outside the MARTA window. No artist can afford to stay transfixed as a doer, maker, striver. Artists and activists both require love. Their trades, sans love, will CLANG worse than a bad drum track. The access to an inner rhythm, to beauty that does not tare you away from humanity in endless pursuit of nirvana, to a righteousness that rolls down mountains in liquid inevitability–the access to this ineffability requires us to s t o p and listen to...
It is in silence that we hear our belovedness. And silence, like white space, is also a place, it is the spacial environment where our imaginations are taught/shapes/formed. Silence, though, is not a commodity to be traded. Like manna it will turn to worms should you return to it apart from an open receptive posture (maybe this is why acquisitiveness, self-aggrandizement, or scarcity rarely characterize true artists and activists). Artists and activists are shapers, whether pragmatic or romantic, we move real things into new places and lop off the corner of one thing fastening something to its other side until a new thing emerges. We are shapers, and it is in silence the we let go of our brother's heel, and unbuckle our holster, and lay down our birth-rite as shaper... and we climb up onto the easel, the wheel, into the kiln, and place our necks under the callused fingers to be shaped by...
Here are a few of Wolfe's lines and citations that have shaped me today...
There is nothing behind [silence] to which it can be related, except the Creator Himself (sic.) -Max Pickard, The World of Silence.
Out of silence emerges the creative act, both in the 'sub-creation' of the artist and in the creation of God. but there is also a sense in which the created artifact itself is something set into silence...
The space that Christ gives us to respond to him is similar to the space the the artist must give to us to respond to his or her work...
The art that emerges out of silence–the art the experiences human life and our fallen world as a place of exile–forces us to ask the question "why." -Gregory Wolfe
There can be no answer to the 'Why?' of the afflicted... The only things the compel us tot ask the question are affliction, and also beauty; for the beautiful gives us such a vivid sence of the presence of something good that we love for purpose there, without even finding one. Like affliction, beauty compels us to ask: Why? Why is this thing beautiful? But rare are those who are capable of asking this question for as long as a few hours at a time...
He who is capable not only of crying out but also of listening will hear the answer. Silence it the answer.
The speech of created beings is with sounds. The word of God is silence. God's secret word of love can be nothing else but silence. Christ is the silence of God." -Simone Weil
The Beloved Community is the nexus of action and formation. We are formed in the silent act love. And we act as ones (in)formed into lovers. This mutuality between God and creation begats mutuality between humanity in our creative ventures, in response to both beauty and suffering.
I was interviewed by Thomas Turner of Everyday Liturgy, an quarterly journal, about the impact of Wendell Berry on my work as a pastor, community organizer, and artist. I can't believe he used as much of the interview as he did. I'm by no means a literurature critic or expert on Berry. Thanks Thomas for the chance to share my story!
The interview is entitled: The Art of Being in Atlanta
This issue includes other book reviews, several more articles about Berry and great reflection for folks looking to see the beautiful and divine in the everyday. And the previous isue includes interviews with Brian McLaren and a beautiful artful piece by Paul Soupiset.
I haven't posted about this yet, but I am excited to have been included with 24 folks, all better at this than me, enlisted to describe the emergent conversation. The book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, was released April of this year, but I'm just now finding the time to blog about it. My chapter, "The Art of Emergence: Being God's Handiwork" is a synthesis of the theories of missiology, creative systems, and anthropology. I had a lot of fun with it.
I've you've had the chance to read it, I'd love to know what it did in you. If you haven't you can click on the "Search inside" link on Amazon and search art, and start reading on Pg 60. But You'll have to buy or barrow it to get the whole deal ;)