Category: Theocommunications


Featured on NBC’s ‘Chuck’:

Lyrics:

“When I wake up with the morning light I can always breathe
Somehow that never has meant much to me
And I can’t say I am thankful for the things I have
I’m a hell of a guy
Living a hell of a lie

And if I gave it all way I’d expect something back
I’m never sure that I could tell you where my heart is at
Cause every good thing I do is a selfish act
And I’m a hell of a guy
Living a hell of a lie

That’s why I don’t understand where you come in
Showing a son of dirt how to be a man
I tried to refuse your name, still you love the same
Singing hallelujah
Singing hallelujah”

(Mp3 available for purchase on Daniel Zott’s website)

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Jesus and the Space Aliens

“They arrived in our greatest hour of need.

They gave us hope,

And in return,

We gave them our trust.”

The first thing I hope you notice when watching this promo is its HEAVY use of religious imagery and language. There are multiple references to the Visitors as “Saviors”. Tyler steps out aghast at the mothership and exclaims “My God!” There are healings. Talk of gratitude morphing into worship is heard. A crucifix falls off an altar. Messages of hope are being spread to all mankind and those in power do not like what they cannot control. The second thing I hope you sense is the fear these things generate in the religious leaders and conservative people.

Now, if one understands the plot of this series (due to it being a remake), the jaded perspective of man when it comes to things seeming “too good to be true”, and how pop culture ultimately spins things (main characters are not evil), one knows that nothing in this show is as good or perfect as it seems. However, what if it was? What if the messages of hope were what they claimed to be? What if these people truly could save us?

At the very least, the initial episodes of this show, revealing and developing the message of the Vs and the reaction of Earth’s population, could give us a wonderful lens into a first century Pharisaic perspective of Christ, in that, he did much the same thing. He upset the government and the religious system by giving people hope rooted in some sort of alternative form. The people who were myopically focused on who held power and control in the here and now, suddenly witnessed the gift of equality to those over whom power was held. It was not the revolution they were looking for. Because of this, it gained devotion from those who experienced the new equality and fear from those who watched their system be critiqued with an obvious authority they were helpless to stand against. All they were able to do was kill the man.

This plays on the common understanding that man has always believed the world could be a better place, he has simply been at a loss of what or how to change it. Suddenly, beings clothed in human bodies arrive on the scene and prominently declare messages of hope and peace; radically transforming the lives on this planet through “miraculous” healing and cultural advancement.

It reveals the development of fear in the systemic leaders, both political and religious, as a result of the development of hope in the masses. This fear is a result of the loss of control through the realignment of devotion.

The actions and message of the Vs reveal by stark contrast the failings of the religious system to spread the hope it claims. However, it seems they do so by giving hope for the present rather than a hope for the future. Also, it is spread to everyone. It is not a message solely for those deemed appropriate by the system.

This begs the following questions:

– In what way is our “blessed hope” one that is not simply a future, or what are the ramifications of the Gospel of new creation to the present world?

– In what way have we narrowed our message to those within our system versus a message to all? (Something most think is a result of lifestyle requirements, linked to the “Go and sin no more” statements of Christ.)

So, Jesus and the Space Aliens. Their stories start off much the same; with hope, devotion, worship, trust, redemption, and salvation. If we, as the church, are to be for the world what Christ was for Israel, where have we gone wrong? Where was our effectiveness lost?

Just something to think about.

“V” begins Nov. 3rd on ABC.

methumbBio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

Writing a song concerning God and the worship of Him is like trying to convey a perfect picture through a huge puzzle missing half the pieces. You can only tackle one portion at a time. Even if you manage to assemble the majority of the frame, and maybe even some of the middle, the picture is still going to be incomplete. And in order to compensate for the “unknown” spaces existing next to the concrete pieces, you might try to dispense some of your personal ideas. This often leads to controversy among those who believe you are messing up what the picture was originally intended to be, and praise from those who clap their hands in delight that someone with a similar mindset concerning the picture must surely prove their belief to be good, right and true.

It is frustrating and beautiful all at once. Every time I sit down at my keyboard to attempt this process, I am greeted by old and familiar questions.  Where do I even begin? How is it possible to write about God when so much of Him is unknown or argued about? How is it possible to worship Him “in spirit and in truth” when we so easily forget why we should? How do we even know He is pleased with the sound of our voices and is it even necessary? How do I know previous experiences weren’t just the result of my own ability to manipulate? Yet I keep sitting down at that keyboard, because something deep within me has to. Something tells me the one thing truly worth writing about is Him. And so I keep trying.

I keep trying because there is something interesting about music in comparison to this walk of faith that amazes me. Music moves me, though I cannot fully understand why. I can read the basic principles through books and scientific articles on the subject, but even those do not explain it in a way that satisfies me. And it is the same with God and faith. God moves and changes me, though I cannot fully understand why. I know the basic principles of faith but the truth of the matter is that words, as powerful as they can be sometimes, do not always move me or change me. There is also someone behind those words and ideas.  And when you put that someone behind the mystery of music, it becomes quite powerful.

That powerful mystery is the beautiful side of the process. The execution, however, is the infuriatingly frustrating part. When it comes to writing worship music especially, an acute awareness that I am tackling the “sacred” comes into play. The notion that this omnipresent might would bend to hear my small attempts to describe Him means I cannot just write haphazardly through my personal emotions or ignorance concerning Him. There is a responsibility to challenge, teach and equip that comes along with any attempt to convey spiritual truth.

Throughout my years of attempting to join the ranks of those writing worship songs, I’ve attended a number of song writing sessions (focused on worship) in which the popular sentiment concerning a successfully written worship song meant the following: Make it easy. Make it sing-able. Make it catchy.  My response was to become even more stubborn concerning the opposite view. We have dumbed down our worship,  along with theology and faith. It’s something I’ve tried, not always successfully, to break out of.

As a result I have always had the highest affinity for hymns because they belong to an era of music used to build on the theological foundation being taught in the church services. They contained multiple verses inundated with amazing revelations about the nature of God, faith and theology. If you ever find yourself humming a hymn, start thinking about the words and chances are you’ll realize you’ve been humming about some incredibly deep truth. When I started writing songs it came out of the desire to challenge, encourage and provide the revelations I had grown up discovering in those hymns.

But the main thing I’ve learned in my attempts is that there is no “right “ way when it comes to something so intangible and inexplicable. Music is a combination of the simple and the complicated, containing formulas and theories that are then broken, repeatedly.  Music is shaped by the perspectives of those creating it, and when you throw in the mysterious “God” factor, one can never be fully sure of whether the music or God is affecting them. And perhaps it is a combination of both.

I’ve tried avoiding the shallow “sing-along”  tune, but realized some of that is necessary in order to make it possible for a song to be sung by multiple people. I’ve worried about creating an “emotional high” and have tried (completely unsuccessfully) to avoid it altogether, only to realize that music IS emotional. One of my biggest struggles concerns how manipulative music can be and so I’ve tried to avoid “manipulating” people only to realize that too is impossible.

Whether it’s sacred or secular, music will always be emotional and there will always be an element of manipulation in it because that is what art does. Art manipulates our emotions. And in many ways that is necessary because sometimes we are more open to messages in art, whether in song or picture form.  To top that off, anyone born with a propensity to create art will generally carry more than their fair share of emotion, which inevitably wafts into everything they do, including their creations.

And the creating itself is actually part of where I believe one of the most “worshipful” aspects of writing these songs comes from. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” We were created by the Creator, and when we attempt to create in an effort to praise Him, regardless of what form it takes, that creation IS praise in and of itself. It is acknowledgement that we are made in His image and that His characteristics flow out of us.

In all of these “revelations”  concerning writing songs about God and for God I have wrestled with many factors and continually changed my mind. The pattern of writing a song is as elusive as nailing down a “correct” way to write songs about God. Some days the songs just climb out of me as though they couldn’t stand to sit inside my head one minute longer. Other days I’m convinced I’ve lost the ability to ever write another song again. Once those dramatic moments pass I am reminded that music is lodged within my system, much the same as God and the desire for Him seems to be lodged within my soul. And coupled with this is a deep belief that He delights in our imperfect attempts to worship Him because they come out of faith that despite only having half the puzzle pieces, despite how much we have yet to know about Him, despite the doubt and frustration and tension of faith, we keep coming back to try, because we believe the final picture (yet unseen) is perfect.

summerBio: Summer Lee Carlson is currently living and teaching in South Korea until August 2010. After that she has no idea what is next and that’s the way she likes it. Her blog can be read at Aestivus Lee and her music can be found on Myspace.

The last post inspired an idea in me. I know not many people read this, but perhaps if anyone does and feels so inspired, share this idea with a friend.

I would like to do a theology and art gallery post not created entirely by me or drawn from my internet browsing. Thus, I turn to you, the masses.

I would like to see/read what you might create on the subject of faith, questioning, and doubt. These can be photographs, graphic design, typography, sketch, painting, poetry, etc. Once these are created, email them to me at phoenixrenovatio@gmail.com

I’ll give about a month timeline for submission. Once these are submitted, depending on response, I’ll post them (or the best of them) here for [my small audience of] people to see/read.

Obviously, if no one responds, this is a fruitless post and nothing will be posted in one month. If this is the case, in one month, I request you forget this was ever written. But here’s hoping!

[Image submissions should be in .jpg or .png format. Text submissions should preferably be in .doc or .docx format.]

I would be interested in hearing opinions and interpretations on this piece of graffiti done by the infamous and unknown British graffiti artist/social commentator “Banksy”.

This image carries so many levels of message; both positive and negative. Although I can guess at Banksy’s original intention in creating this image, I understand that with art, much is subject to the interpreter/viewer.

Please feel free to share any thoughts, interpretations, or reactions this image inspires in you by leaving a comment.

methumbBio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

We Used to Speak in Silence

Although not technically a blatant Theocommunications post, I hope that if you read this blog for such content, you might perceive the inherent theological implications of the following.

In a world where technology and information dominate, where social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress) is a prime form of interaction, where it seems a new communicational trend is beginning each year; it is easy to see why many sociologists and philosophers are pointing to an idea that we are becoming more communal and “tribal” in our interaction. We are the non-primitive tribe. We exist in a world filled with relationships which transcend spatial proximity and redefine what it is to be a “friend.” These relationships not only transcend standard spatial proximity, but time-related communication. However, within this dizzying fray of social opportunity, it is my hypothesis that we are actually redefining the very nature of what it is to be “social” and “communal.”

This is not some Luddite rant against technology or a call for an Amish revolution. It simply arises from a desire to provoke awareness of the way in which our technology influences us. There is no denying we are far more connected and social than mankind has been in all previous historical epochs measured by sheer number of relationships and connections. In a world filled with nearly 7 billion people (alas, I remember when Bill Nye told me it was 6 billion), is it possible that our small 6 degrees of separation might be shrinking due to our mass connections? However, in light of all these connections, are we truly building better relationships?

All of our technology seems to aim at one thing, individuality. We travel in individual, enclosed bubbles of glass and steel every day to get to work. We have our own personal communication devices. We can buy individual servings of meals. We don’t even have to leave an office to meet with anyone face to face. Our music tastes are our own, pumped into our ears on personal playing devices for no one else to hear. Our movie selections are personal and private without requiring us to actually leave our homes and select a movie off the shelf at a rental store. We can purchase music, movies, books, etc. all from our computers to have them directly downloaded or shipped to our doorstep. Amazon.com now sells groceries, for crying out loud! A person could go a full week without leaving their house or ever seeing another’s face, yet still communicating and interacting with all of their contacts. I’m guilty of the same thing; I send 2000 to 3000 text messages a month! (Although I admit, many people are quite astonished by such a number.)

In all of this, we are redefining what it is to be in a relationship. In the past, friends were defined by

– Proximity

– Emotional Vulnerability

– and Conversational capability.
In the modern era, we erase or modify these first three. First off, we strike out the proximity factor entirely. Second, we redefine emotional vulnerability by being completely public with our interests, our goals, and facts about ourselves. We don’t strike out the emotional factor entirely, but it becomes a shallower, less private factor. It does not require interaction to find out the things close to you and the things you are passionate about. Many argue that these facts are not what make up friendship, but it is the vulnerability and humility it used to take to have an ask-share interaction that possibly created stronger friendships. Third, we converse with everyone as a result of the internet (although Chris Hansen would discourage it). In the modern era that list looks more like this:

Proximity

– Interest/Fact-based “vulnerability”

– and non-time oriented, conversational interaction.

In fact, I perceive it as evidence of this redefinition when we see an introvert or a shy person reach out online rather than in person. There is something about not looking another human in the eyes and simply reading their text and looking at a picture that calms us. It removes our instinctual inhibition and fear. This takes shape in other ways as well. If one looks at blog culture, the commenter is far bolder in sharing his opinion and even trashing the author and his post. People one never would expect to speak so harshly will go into a full-on, caps-lock rant and (maybe, just maybe) use some expletives. It is because we do not have to stare at the hurt on someone’s face. We do not need to react to their reaction. We are not even giving a thought to the humanity behind these thoughts, we are simply responding to the words on a screen.

This is where my hypothesis leads: a world where people are liberated in their opinion, yet are blindly ignorant toward the humanity of others. There is a connection that can only be made through physical presence. There are things that can only be communicated through personal interaction, messages that can be sent without words or voice; a silence that is capable of screaming powerful messages of empathy, distrust, sadness, or anger.
We live in a world where relationships and conversations are no longer bound by time. Speaking with someone does not require my full attention. It is a conversation on each of our individual terms. If you desire to respond now, you can. But if you don’t have the time or don’t want to, you can wait until later. This only creates further individualization. My relationship with you is no longer bound to our mutual sacrifice of schedule. Yes, this allows us to be more connected to more people in more places, but are we gaining this at a cost? Are we paying for it without recognizing the true nature, value, and depth of physical proximity and contact?

Could one make the case that technological literacy is removing our care for every person? Marshall McLuhan writes in his book “Understanding Media” about primitive cultures in Africa watching films who become concerned about even a minor character once they leave frame (McGraw-Hill, 1964; page 285). They want to know what happens with everyone, not simply the protagonist; not simply the character the director truly wants us to relate and connect with. Is this a result of their lack of exposure and education to technological culture and art form? Does this reveal neurological training toward our understanding of community and relationship? When we are surrounded by so many people and yet saturated by so much individual freedom, are we more likely to ignore the value of the other?

If you still don’t believe, I leave with this question: Why are long distance relationships more difficult to maintain? Love is a difficult thing to maintain, requiring great commitment with proximity and even greater without. Hearing of a voice, reading of thoughts is at times helpful, but there is still a great amount which could be said for the value of physical contact and proximity.

methumbBio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

It is everywhere. It is in our homes. It is in our cars. It is in storefront windows. And, it is on our minds. It is television – the modern opiate of the masses. Alfred Hitchcock said, “Television is like the American toaster, you push the button and the same thing pops up every time.” The purpose of the television is primarily to keep us from doing anything thoughtful or productive, while selling the latest products to the laziest people. But it doesn’t appear that the stupid thing is going away anytime soon, so we might as well learn to use it for our own good. In this brief essay, I am arguing that the Christian community, if it must watch the television, should at least use it as a pedagogical instrument.

We, as human beings, are conditioned creatures; we are always being shaped and molded by our surroundings. The television is a conditioning machine. We are consumers, consuming (mostly) dull entertainment – isn’t this contradictio in terminis. We can only withdraw what has been deposited. As Christians, we proclaim that we are shaped and molded by something quite other than the status quo – or that is supposed to be the case. Recently, several scholars have referred to the Church-as-of-late as one shaped a bit more by the liturgies of the television than her own Liturgy.

There is no need to dive into the waters of debate concerning the negative affects of television; we have been engulfed in these arguments too long. It is about time we realize the thing is here to stay and use it the best we can – and as little as we can, if possible. Let me give an example of a recent television show that provides an opportunity for dialogue and communal formation. The show is Kyle XY. It is a series about a young boy who wakes up, naked in a forest, with no memory of who he is, or where he is from – oh, and, he doesn’t have a belly button. I’m not kidding – look for yourself. Skipping some minor details, Kyle is invited into the home of the Trager family. Nicole Trager – psychologist and mom – tries to help Kyle remember who he is. As with any human being, Kyle asks questions about identity: what does it mean to be; what does it mean to be a friend, a family member, or in conflict with another human being; what does it mean to feel: love, enmity, etc. While he struggles to find answers, those around him begin to ask themselves many of the same questions. As Kyle tries to figure out his identity, they begin to search for theirs. Throughout the series, many issues are brought to the forefront: sexual identity, self-discipline, lying, love, religion, relationship, etc.

The significance of this particular television program is that it provides a “virtual reality”. A reality that is not real; rather, it is a presentation of a potential “reality”. And in the same breath, it is real, considering the issues are ones confronted daily within the Church. It creates a conceptual space for creative imagination of an alternative reality – in fact, it creates a space in which one might begin to rethink their own particular way(s) of being: in relation to their-self and others. We should not, however, simply understand this program as promoting its own agenda and pushing its own morality and ethics upon teenagers and young adults – however much this may be the case. We must understand it as a conceptual space in which dialogue should and must take place. Rather than being passively shaped and molded by “anti-liturgies”, we can begin to use these “anti-liturgies” as a way to communicate an alternative, eschatological Liturgy. If we begin to view the television in this way, perhaps – just perhaps – we can begin to withdraw more than has been deposited into our clever toasters.

Just a thought.

JoshBio: Joshua Curtis Dorman is finishing his last semester at North Central University. He is currently spending most of his time reading, writing, and translating so that he can go to more school.

Wait. Stop right there. Don’t leave. I can already see the protest in your eyes, the look in your face expressing boredom. Either you know about Twitter or you don’t, and if you know about Twitter you don’t want to hear people talking about it. It’s a topic everyone wants to hate. But I promise, if you stick with me, you’ll see how Twitter is an extension of what we should be doing in our everyday lives in our search for living like Christ. Seriously, there are huge ramifications here.

For those of you who don’t know what Twitter is, I’ll make this extremely short. Twitter is commonly described as a micro-blogging service that allows you to post thoughts of 140 characters or less. Let’s be honest, that phrase means absolutely nothing to anyone. For a less esoteric explanation, let’s try this: Twitter allows you to share your thoughts and interesting tidbits of information you find with all your friends and get instant feedback right away. It’s an exercise in constant communication. Better?

You may laugh, but I can honestly say that if I wasn’t using Twitter, there would be many people I wouldn’t talk to nearly as much. Twitter has become a means to communicate with people who I actually find interesting but never knew were so interesting. I encourage you to give it a shot, it takes a couple of months to grow into, but once you find a community, you’ll love it.

So what does this have to do with the popularity of Twitter and why Christians should care? Nothing yet, so let’s break into the imposing question. Part of Twitter’s popularity has already been hinted at already, it is a way to stay constantly connected with the world around you. What makes Twitter unique is the fact that these people don’t have to live anywhere near you. These people don’t have to be next-door neighbors, you can have a close-knit community of people from all across the world. It’s part of (pardon my use of buzz words) building the global village.

In a sense, Twitter means you never have to be alone. If you are following a moderate amount of people (who actually update their “tweets”), then you can always be aware of what others are doing. Not only that, but you can instantly comment on these activities or thoughts and get an instant response.  What separates Twitter from a chat room? With a chat room, you have to be logged into the service. With Twitter, you don’t have to always be logged in. You get to tap into this feed of conversation whenever you want at your convenience. This is why people love it. It’s the feeling of community, but only when you so desire. It truly is the best of both worlds (take that Hannah Montana!).

Think I’m full of it? Let’s let the stats speak for themselves. According to the recent statistics, Twitter is showing 600 million unique visitors a month. That means (theoretically), 600 million unique people are logging onto Twitter. Let’s put this into perspective. The population of the United States is 306 million people, meaning that roughly two United States make up the population of Twitter. This is insane. Now if you put all of this together, you will see how the implications of what this means for the Christian are huge.

I’ve always thought that the best form of ministry is one that allows you to live life with other people. Forget classes, small groups, and any other form of traditional ministry. It’s not that these things are bad, but I’ve found that what is most effective is living life with other people. When you allow someone else into your life, you allow them to see you as you truly are. This means during your ups and your downs.

Hopefully, if your life is being affected by Christ, people will see a difference in your life as compared to the others around you. If Twitter is a gateway to instant community all the time, then… well you get the idea.

You can make an attempt to make your “tweets” holy and righteous, but let’s face it, no one is like this all the time. We have faults and we have mistakes. That means that when you post on Twitter an angry outburst, people will see that. But it also means they will see genuine moments of impact and change as well. By allowing others to see your life as you truly live it, we become a true living witness to Christ.

Now I’m not an expert at living like this. Most of my tweets are far from profound and spiritual, but it has allowed other people who are not Christians to be able to see that not all Christians are nuts and *gasp* conservative. While I still think that living life with others (in real life) is the best way to reach out to people, Twitter gives us a new way to do this in a world that is slowly turning more digital by the second.

I’m not asking you to sign up for a Twitter account (but if you do, my handle is @thoeft, shameless plug I know), but I am asking you to consider how we can use new media in a way to reach out to others. I know there are pastors out there who consider media and technology as a waste of time, but how relevant can you be if you ignore the very place where people are spending their time. 600 million people. Think of the impact.

toneBio: Tone Hoeft is pursuing his Master’s degree in Communications from Eastern Washington University. To learn more about him or his thoughts, visit www.inproximity.org.

Preface: I will be starting a new topic on here about an idea of Theocommunications, or the way in which we communicate about God and how to renovate it for the ever-changing culture stream. This will be the first. Others may be done by guest contributors. We’ll just see what comes of it… Enjoy!

You may be staring curiously at your screen wondering why that did not have anything to do with theology. You may have even stopped watching it because you thought I got the link wrong. In fact, I didn’t. This TED Talk centers on the idea of meaning generated from imagery. This is a subject that is not new, it is underlying and its capabilities are only just being understood. The proper term for these images, and one the computer-savvy know all to well, is an icon.

Wikipedia defines it as

“an image, picture, or representation; it is a sign or likeness that stands for an object by signifying or representing it either concretely or by analogy…a name, face, picture, edifice or even a person readily recognized as having some well-known significance or embodying certain qualities: one thing, an image or depiction, that represents something else of greater significance through literal or figurative meaning, usually associated with religious, cultural, political, or economic standing.”

Icons are frequently used to communicate an idea. As the video explains, they make use of multiple areas of the brain to determine what they are, their layout, and how they make us feel. The speaker advocates using visual methods for greater productivity and stronger communication.

I will not be that person who says “Oh, the Church has known this for centuries.” Because, technically, they didn’t. They used it without wielding it. Perhaps they even used it correctly, but in understanding the mechanics of how it works, one is capable of wielding it correctly and efficiently.

The Church for centuries has created icons. These icons are images of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Cross, etc. A notable fact is that God the Father is never depicted in iconography. This is something that has been lost in the Western Church, because we have images like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where God is depicted as a man with a flowing white beard. Strangely enough, when asked to describe their image of God, this is what is conjured up (along with any baggage they might have towards the details of this image, such as the fact He is depicted as a man.) The Eastern and Early Church icons were intended to bring honour to their essence (or “that which they are an image of”) through veneration. Their other use was that of theological education. Details of the images depicted elements of theology regarding the essence of their image. In both areas, the Church must reclaim this lost art.

Increasingly, messages are sent not only through plain text and voice, but these flat messages are combined with vibrant or compelling imagery. From a guilt-inducing commercial for pledging money to victims to the glowing sweat of a Gatorade™ drinking athlete. These communicate messages of need and suffering or energy, and power. Without even saying “Gatorade gives you power and energy to be good at sports,” the images of athletes sweating a pulsing and electric coloured sweat due to a straining athletic feat says just that. These images are everywhere. They tie into things not even related to the subject matter at hand. Nike™, for instance, sponsors Lebron James. They erected this billboard:

We Are All Witnesses

We Are All Witnesses

This says nothing about how great Nike is. It simply implicitly claims attachment to Lebron’s success. Yet, when we see this, it is meant to be understood as “I am witness to something great. Something epic. He is successful. Nike aknowledges this. Nike is my agreeing companion and a member of my basketball-fanatic tribe. I agree with Nike.”

“…therefore, I will buy Nike products.”

However, this entire mental process is subconcious and unbeknownst to the viewer who feels instinctually compelled to choose Nike next time they need a new pair of shoes. Even more interesting is the fact that nowhere does it actually say “Nike” or “Lebron James” on the billboard. It is becoming engrained in our culture because it has been picked up on. We are visual creatures. We learn visually. If we communicate visually, people remember the message.

I am not advocating the use of images to sell our message to people. We are not in the business of peddling Jesus. (Or in the Jehovah’s Witnesses case “pedaling” Jesus haha.) However, I am advocating the use of images to communicate messages about Jesus. (I specify “about” because communicating the message of Jesus is only done in the flesh through the flesh.)

A friend of mine recently purchased an icon. When I looked at it, I was immediately aware of its surface beauty.

Extreme Humility

But the description of this icon reveals far more about its meaning. Its message.

Here Christ is depicted descending into Hades bearing the instruments of the Passion: the Cross, lance, and sponge.  His hands are as if bound but no rope is tying them together, demonstrating that He voluntarily chose to be fettered and willingly suffered for the salvation of all.  We see the bleeding wounds on His side and hands, for He has kept His wounds even in His Resurrection as a sign that His agony and suffering were real and remain as a pledge of His undying Love for each person, even to His Death on the Cross.  With His eyes closed He is truly dead to the world and all of its passionate needs during His descent in to Hades, yet inwardly beholding all things as the all-seeing God.

When we think of God and the attributes that are His by nature–unconditional Love, complete omnipresence and omnipotence, Existence Itself without the boundaries of time and space, all-holiness, absolute compassion and empathy, Truth that is never swayed by partiality yet tempered by Divine Mercy, total understanding–each is astounding and hard to comprehend, but this icon’s “Extreme Humility” is perhaps the most close and dear to us. (Source: Skete.com)

This image communicates far more in examination than in quick glance. Part of this, I believe, is due to unfamiliarity with the symbols. What the modern Western Church needs are images with symbols understood to us in our context and culture.

The Church is in need of a New Iconic movement. We are in need of the creative; the artists, graphic designers, painters, sketchers, filmographers, and photographers. There is a message to be communicated, and a more efficient and memorable way to communicate it.