cultural criticism | photography | place & space

He is Passing By

I'm looking for an cultural milieu where I can live, love, create, explore in joy and my unconventionalness and still be ever faithful to my God. What I have found is two very different and not altogether different camps who will welcome me, but their welcome implies a certain expectation that I will be accountable to their respective groupthink. However, will I stand before either camp to account on that last day?

This first camp, let’s call them Sinestra, challenges me to cherish, respect, and stand in awe of the created order, well up to a point. I know that this created order is a work of high art, and that it points me to the Artist. The problem is that Sinestra asks me to pay no attention to the Man behind the curtain...the temple veil. Sinestra also curiously expects that I should use my body...this created order writ ways that disrespect how and why it was created. When pressed, Sinestra will wax spiritual and say that the Artist says, "it is good," and create a new unchallengeable dogma. In the face of everything that I everything that has been revealed to me in the artwork and by the Artist Himself...I cannot cotton to this notion.

Further Sinestra prods me on to use my gifts to bring joy to myself and to go out on a limb and to birth forth. Only the sole appropriate limb has been carefully chosen to the exclusion of spite of their language of inclusivity. Our gifts and our accumulating and yet selective knowledge divorced from Wisdom propel us toward progress. This new dogma expects me to believe that the progress wrought will somehow be what saves us. Again, I am witness...eyes wide open and in what has been wrought. Pity...this squandering of talent and wonder that so often goes misused or totally unused for that fear.

The other camp, Destra if a name must be used, has the clear and often consuming desire to remain faithful. They see what is behind that curtain...even if imperfectly. Maybe it is this inevitable and wholly acceptable imperfection that results in their handwringing over minutia. Well, the devil is in the details; I have met him there often, and always to my undoing. Joy and the desire to explore and to serve in love become sabotaged by ruminating over the cracks in the chimney. Ah the smoke is all around it is even in the sanctuary. Yes indeed it is...has been for a long time really. What can I do about this? I am but a very small creature. I will not fret if I have not the power to affect change, and if I have such power, please let me use it in a way that is proactive, creative, constructive, and without fear. This is my challenge to myself and to any who will listen.

While I perceive that Destra’s reading of the signs is more often than not true, their reaction just as often denies that what they behold is itself the Truth. I get the impression at times that we are expected turn ourselves inside out over every incidence of improper act, speech, and thought. I’ve seen men do as much. The response to this toxic shame or to that primal fear and to whatever other affective instability inherent in their makeup lead them to a near bottomless despair that must in itself have cried out to heaven. It certainly made me stand up within myself and say this is not the work of the Spirit.

The thing is that Sinestra and Destra are really one in the same people, from our brokenness we react out of fear...fear of the other...fear of the self. All to defend our crumbs, at the beginning of the day fear is what lashes out and at the end of the day fear is what wins out. I am unimpressed and I am weary. I don’t much want to play with either Sinestra or Destra even though I mustn’t be alone...or so both keep telling me. I simply want to gaze in awe, to soak up and contribute to that beauty, and reach out and grab onto His hem when He passes by.