Wednesday, 7 November 2007

note to antonio - aug 07

Sincere apologies as it is now almost August, I am without excuse, and from the out, let me confess this letter has been re-written, so what it lacks in spontaneity and child-like honesty I hope it might make up in wit, clarity and rigour. For all my divisive pre-meditation you are entitled to demand sentences of Pauline length and complexity, in this my first epistolic work – although without chapters and verses.

This much preached about life-in-its-fullness is something I have found in so very few Christians - a wild abandon of a life that does not consist in the abundance of things, a dangerous and provocative life. I think it is this hypothetical ideal that sits at the back of my philosophy, quietly speaking into every aspect of my thinking. It is a yearning that there must be more. If only Christians knew what they already had and if only the rest knew what they were really looking for we might get somewhere.

Recently I dinner with some friends who, though not Christian, are never the less, acutely aware of the disparity between the world as we’re being sold it and the potential other, the world as it may fleetingly have been and the life and cultural assumptions we are burdened with now. One suggested that it was the abundance of expensive equipment more than anything else that hindered the creativity of his band. Another, conversing on literary theory and deconstructivism, thought that in not coming to art as little children, we are being robbed of the very vitality of the experience. And a property-developing father of a friend at this dinner, whilst keen to abdicate responsibility for the short life-expectancy of contemporary styles and constructions in commercial development, he did concede that there was perhaps blame to be administered, and that in fact we were all of us victims within a system, but at that he accused me of being a socialist and being able to put me in a box relieved him and he moved on. I am not interested in getting these people into some sort of religion, and regrettably rarely is my motivation one of compassion for the poor in spirit, rather it is for truth and I fear too often it is for a truth where ‘god’ is used as a trump card in my own power games. These conversations and my life in between will remain circular and dead-end as long as I am living under this too small a vision of God and as long as I continue to use this pet God to serve my own agenda and to construct my own Kingdom. Subconsciously and consciously I am unwilling to concede a God who is too much bigger than me out of fear and arrogance. My social vision currently collapses as the God I am selling is subordinate to my own character, my own experience of a father, my own concept of justice. I have felt in a number of conversations lately people’s yearning for an end to escapism and materialism, if now I cannot yet offer them an experiential solution, at least I can give a framework for their dissatisfaction. There must be truth you can touch, a truth that I have yet to truly find, perhaps I glimpsed it in passing, perhaps it is that which whispers in St Mary’s, that itches me in Adbusters, the still small voice in E.F. Schumacher and Ruskin, that yearning in Saul Williams, GodSpeed, and Radiohead. I think that until I have touched the slums and come back altered, until I have laid honest bricks in the service of genuine community, until I have died to myself and risen three days later, I will be peddling an impotent gospel on deaf ears, and I will waste my time and theirs pushing with all good intention a message that can be construed only as self-righteous, irrelevant and fake.

Anyways I’m doing a little bit of reading and I do eventually hope to crystallise some thoughts into a manifesto, if only for Omar’s amusement, it will be I think a call for servant architects pursuing urgently to create beauty through transcendence, delight through community, relationship through grace, creativity through humility, sustainability through sacrifice, dignity through craft, nurture through nature, language through history, immortality through truth, and identity through the sacred incarnate. I use the terms loosely and lazily and I hope I can tighten things up, reference it with long German names and ground it in celebrity built precedent and render it with ironic but show-off-ish graphic presentation. But Proverbs 14v23 - so I will curtail my indulgent philosophising for this epistle, I think ink is seldom spilt profitably on these things.

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