Friday, October 28, 2005

Some thoughts on the Community in Amy's absence

With Amy in Israel/Palestine with CPT( see earlier post) and Kate costuming a King Lear for North Park University's drama department the community's apartment has kind of turned into one large costuming studio (with a little corner, literally) form my painting. This reminds me though that we had envisioned originally that the Community of Holy Trinity would be in part a place for artists to work while engaging the spiritual discipline of keeping the Daily Office. It is at times like this that I realize that on one had I think we were truly called to this and on the other that we are not fully living into what we had envisioned. Part of this is that God brought us Amy (who is a classical violist) whose main energies are working with CPT, while at the same time calling away the three other original members of the community with whom we explored and formed the vision of the community and who were involved in the writing of our rule.
AT times I wonder if Kate and I should just focus on her design and costuming and my pastoring a church. A community of three where two are married and one is mainly involved in another organization doesn't always feel like an intentional community. But still the idea of the need for life and art disciplined by the Daily Office, even in the face of this still being more of a goal than actuality remains strong.
It also is something that runs counter to the way in which the artistic endeavor is conceived of in our culture, as largely and lonely and individualistic enterprise and spirituality (if it is conceived of as spiritual). It is perhaps note worthy then to mention that since being part of the Community of the Holy Trinity my work as a visual artists has almost exclusively taken the form of iconography, an art form that does not share our cultures view of artistic expression, nor our view of the artist. Iconography is not about self expression but about the art of the Church, the Gospel in pigment and form, and it is a discipline of pray. I am currently working on my ninth and tenth icons since the community began in that same time I have only painted to paintings that were not icons. There are various explanations for this time and that I have been concentrating on painting icons for our chapel and for Church of Jesus Christ Reconciler. But I think it is also an expression of how being in community has changed my emphasis as an artist, and emphasis that admittedly began as I studied and began painting icons and began to ask questions about the mythology of the artist in Western culture. Its not that I think all painters should start writing icons, this seems to be a calling I have, but I know artists who are struggling to be Christians and artists and what that means, what if these artists began to contextualize their art in the disciplines of prayer and meditation and did so not only as individual disciplines but would submit to communal disciplines. Artists are understandably sceptical about the church even if they are Christians. Protestant Christianity certainly has not been completely friendly to visual artists and for musicians CCM as often as not drains away life as it tries to sell Christian music as something with a particular packaging. But what if context and not product was the actual distinguishing factor for Christian artists? What if every evening you prayed with other Christians you lived with either after painting or writing or playing and/or before going to work on some artistic project that evening? Would that make a difference in the art, would that give context to the art of a Christian artist without dictating a particular final product? I don't know but they are questions that the original and current vision of this community asks, the trick is finding other artists willing to take the risk of such a lifestyle and discipline, and takes us as members of the community to seek to find ways to live out both these questions and the gaols of our rule and vision.

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