Thursday, May 27, 2010
Hope Chapel hosting book signing event: June 12 at 7:00 pm (and a small thing about shouting)
My ecclesial alma mater, Hope Chapel, has kindly offered to host a book signing event at 7:00 pm on June 12.
My good friend and architect, Kelly Foster, will interview me that night. He'll ask questions about the content of the book, the process of editing it, the responses we've received so far to it (which have been anything but dull). Other questions we may explore are:
- How should churches use the arts well? (My initial comment: that depends on how you define "church," "arts" and "well")
- How should churches/pastors respond to artists? (My initial comment: in very sensitive, intelligent and multiplex ways. By sensitive I don't mean the "Don't be so sensitive" sense. I mean the NASA or orchid farmer sense. That's the sense that requires a great deal of attentive, patient care versus a blunt, impatient and generic approach)
- What role should Christians have in creating art in the world? (My initial comment: in light of a review by Matt Milliner forthcoming in First Things, I'd say that this is a hugely important question)
- What can artists teach churches and their pastors? (My initial comment: a great deal. I was reading the psalms this morning. In Psalm 100 the poet begins, "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth." I suddenly found it a very funny phrase. I couldn't remember a single time in all my years at a Bible church that the congregation had been encouraged to shout. My Bible church did a lot of things right. But it didn't shout. I think it would have felt slightly awkward. Shouting at a UT football game: yes. Shouting at an idiot driver: yes. Shouting for joy to the Lord of all the earth: Hm.
If you count it up, you'll discover that the Psalter invites us to shout thirteen times. Now an artist understands what shouting is. Shouting is shouting. It is "to utter in a loud voice." But aside from charismatic and progressive churches, where expressive and experimental worship is valued and the fear of looking silly is at a low premium, how often do you find your congregation shouting for joy, not pretending to shout?
Because artists are in tune with the physical and emotional dimensions of human life, they read the psalmist's words and understand immediately what is being asked. What is being asked is that we use our diaphragm, our throat, and indeed our entire body, and join it to the emotion of joy in an acclamation of praise. Artists may also understand that you shout even if you don't feel like it. If the physical body leads, the feelings may follow. But the feelings are not necessary for the body to do its job in worship of the Almighty.
So next time you see your pastor or music/worship leader, ask them if it would be ok to include a moment of shouting during the worship service. Tell them you're "just wanting to be biblical," unless of course they take the view that none of the physical accessories of worship that you find in the OT apply to our more "spiritual," "inward," and (firecracker word here) "reverent" "NT" worship (yes, I just put New Testament in quotes). If that's the case, point them to the book of Revelation and ask them if shouting will be an appropriate response to the resplendent Lamb seated upon his technicolor throne. If shouting for joy will be appropriate in the eschatological age, when Christ will have established his new heavens and earth, then ask your pastor or worship leader if it's ok if you rehearse now what you will be doing then. If that doesn't persuade, then you'll have to settle for shouting in your closet. Or, alternatively, you could join the Von Trapp family on a mountain top.
One last thought. Sometimes I think it does the body good to shout. I have to believe that God invites us to shout because he knows that it will help us get things out that need to get out, and that won't get out otherwise. They won't get out with our normal talking voice. I played soccer for years. I found shouting on the pitch to be one of the most exhilarating and cathartic experiences. Odd to say, it was also an integrative experience. Yes, the soccer pitch and the sanctuary represent two rather different contexts, yet I am inclined to believe that shouting might have an appropriate and ordinate role in both.)
The lovely evening of June 12 at Hope Chapel (see here for directions) will also include:
- the visual art that was featured in the book
- a musical performance by professional musicians Ellen Johnson (flute), Karla Hamelin (cello) and Kim Perlak (classical guitar)
- possibly a modern dance piece (I hope, hope, hope)
- a book signing opportunity with moi
- and of course a reception at the end of the evening, courtesy of gourmand Randy Lewis (What is a Hope Chapel event without food?)
I am deeply grateful to Hope Chapel and to all the folks who are helping to make this possible. If you're in the area, please stop by. It's open to anyone and everyone.
The photograph above is from one of my favorite Hope arts events. I'm such a sucker for professional modern dance.