Art to Change the World

Well I missed Earth Day, but it is never too late to enter into the spirit of going green. Here are some powerful images by Chris Jordan that relate to the statistics of consumption & help us to recognize the extent of the problem.

This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

The series begins with an image of 1 million plastic cups – the number used on US airlines every 6 hours.

1 million plastic cups - the number used in US airlines every 6 hours

View the rest of the series here, and thanks to Anneke Geel for making me aware of this

Pentecost

A number of people have asked me about the pentecost icon I used in a previous post. It is a contemporary Coptic icon. The best collection of pentecost art I have found is at Biblical-Art.com Here are some of my favourites.


Back From Down Under

Tom & I arrived back from Australia on Saturday. At least my body is back but for some reason I still feel as though my mind is only halfway across the Pacific. It is great to return to spring time in the Pacific Northwest. The daffodils are still out and the tulips and flowering trees are bursting into bloom. I must confess however that I am a little overwhelmed by the 80 tomato plants that are rapidly taking over my front porch. Wish i could send some to my friends scattered around the world.

We had a great trip (more of that later when the cotton wool gets out of my brain) and much has happened while we were away. The Other Journal published my article on Why We Live In Community. Here is a brief exerpt.

At the core of our small Mustard Seed House community and of its parent organization Mustard Seed Associates, is our belief in this wild hope of the resurrection and our vision of God’s eternal world as a place in which all of creation is restored and made whole. Through the redemptive work of Christ, one day together with sisters and brothers of every culture, from every age we believe we will be made whole and live together in the love, joy, and mutual concern for God’s original creation. Read the entire article

I also have an article published in the British magazine The Bible in Transmission. This one is entitled Living Into God’s Shalom World

The spiritual rhythms we need for healthy living have been severely disrupted and we haven’t even noticed: ‘Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car you are still paying for, in order to get to the job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.’ Read the entire article

It looks as though someone was busy while I was gone.

Last Day In Australia

Today is our last day in Australia. Tom is finishing off a visit to Perth and I am in Sydney with my family. Tom was interviewed on Perth radio a couple of days ago. You can listen to the interview here

I am sitting with my family watching the Anzac Day Parade – the Australian equivalent of Memorial Day. The day particularly commemorates the landing at Gallipoli on April 26th 1915. The highlight will be the dawn ceremony later today (at least here in Australia) at Gallipoli Bay in Turkey where 250,000 Australian and New Zealand troops were killed or wounded during the First World War. Turkey lost 87,00 men. The emphasis is on reconciliation and understanding – very moving. This has become a place of pilgrimage for many young Australians – a recognition of the need for peace not war. Here are some photos from the 2005 ceremony commemorating 90 years since the troops landed

New Zealand and Australian Flags

After the drought

I am sitting in Sydney at my brother’s place with the rain falling outside.  Tom & I have just returned from a wonderful week in Melbourne where we  were able to catch up on old friends and make some new ones as well.

I loved the Forge festival with Andrew Jones (Tall Skinny Kiwi), Sally Morgenthaler, Mike Frost, Ray Simpson and others where 400 plus people gathered with lots of creative energy & discussion.  We had a particularly good discussion on co-housing.  There are many here in Australia that are looking for alternatives to the single family detached home.  (more on this later).

We have beed kept moving from meetings with the Evangelical Alliance to World Vision as well as catching up on friends Ev & gary Heard & Rob & Lois Kilpatrick.  We also visited one of the only 2 Baptist monasteries in the world – yes Baptist – complete with robes, incense and icons.  It was a very rich experience – wonderful hospitality and conversation that nourished our souls.

Wednesday we drove back to Sydney through a dry but beautiful Australia.  Scary to see the continuing results of 10 years of drought and wonder about the future of our plant in light of such problems.  Tom flies to Perth next Tuesday but I will be staying in Sydney to spend time with my family.   Wonderful to be back with them after 2 years away.  One of the struggles for all of us in this highly mobile society is how to stay connected to those we love.  Home is where the heart is they say but my heart is spread around the world

Reconnecting

Yesterday we drove from Sydney to Melbourne, a drive I have not done for 30 years.  There is something very special about reconnecting to one’s roots and I am feeling quite energized as a result.  The beauty of sunset skies behind a hill studded with snow gums is breathtaking.  More than anything I am enjoying the birds – galahs, cockatoos and lorikeets are everywhere.

Today we start our busy time in Melbourne – a meeting with the Evangelical Alliance this morning and then on to Forge this evening.  We are looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

Don’t Trade Lives

Tom and I have just returned from a very challenging breakfast talk by David Batsone who is in Australia to promote his book Not For Sale. Seems strange that we travel half way around the world to be challenged by someone who lives in San Francisco. His book is about modern day slavery and the need for us to as Christians to redeem the lives of people who have been sold in this way. I think what shook me the most was his stories of church pastors in the US and elsewhere who buy slaves to work for them.

Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia began the morning by showing a very compelling video shot on a recent trip to Africa called the Gate of No Return. World Vision Australia is very active in advocacy against slavery. Their current focus is the production of cocoa which is mainly produced by kids in slavery.

I was particularly challenged by the call for us to be redemption people – not just bringing the message of Christ to a small spiritual compartment of life but truly reaching out to bring redemption to those that are bound physically or spiritually.