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hOw DAre U Cut My frringe!!

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10:24 AM ET (US)
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Edited 09-05-2016 10:26 AM
03:39 AM ET (US)
As with all things related to art you have a worldly way of doing it or you use your gifts to glorify God. The fact that some choose to use their art for other purposes than to glorify God does not mean that the art form becomes invalid. This is relevant to all forms of art, be it poetry, painting, dance or any other.
Kate and Peta
11:21 PM ET (US)
LIMBO STRUT & FRET. Welcome to the greatest party between heaven and hell. An intoxicating mix of cabaret, circus and acrobatics has seduced audiences in London, Edinburgh, Bogota, Auckland, Munich and Adelaide. Page 83 in the official Melbourne Festival program. Guys geeking at girls in skimpy clothing swallowing swords. How does this stuff enlighten or inspire or celebrate anyone?
Edited 10-05-2015 11:22 PM
08:53 PM ET (US)
Spot on, Lucy, the church is a sleeping beauty, too many costumes and not enough dancers. Perhaps someone like Apostle Lilly in Puerto Rico can explain aerial choreography and fire sticks during worship dance.
Deleted by topic administrator 02-23-2016 01:54 AM
Andrew D Park
04:27 AM ET (US)
Diane Hobelaid. Well put. You get it.
Andrew D Park
04:17 AM ET (US)
That is a really good question Repetiteur. I know of come creative artists who have travelled to Hungary, and are now travelling to Turkey near the border to care for the practical needs of Syrian refugees under the leadership of a New Zealand originated Christian called Andrew Jones AKA Tall Skinny Kiwi. He is prominent in emergent church circles as well as an avid writer and blogger on incarnational topics, alternative faith community, the arts, and theology. There are many more like him out there, but dare I say, keeping a low profile in the media about it for team safety reasons. Try this website for Andy's updates
In the wider picture, quite a number are involved in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle east, but don't like it publicized for operational reasons.
There is also a lot of artists doing things on the Australian home-front through #LOVEMAKESAWAY , TEAR, Micah Challenge and a big festival promoting social justice through the arts called the Beyond Festival to be run at Stromlo near Canberra over the end of Sept/Oct holidays, involving poets, dancers, actors, indigenous leaders, comedians, activist preachers -
My wife and I will be going to Beyond.
Greenbelt festival was just run and featured many of the same in the UK.
But I think more at Europe's gates and fences does need to occur, and I think artists can communicate a lot where others can't about the issues and where new hope can be found in Christ in relation to the practical issues.
Heaps of Christians, including artists, gathered with heaps of people who are not, to light candles in solidarity with refugees in all cities in Australia. Many churches have committed to assisting numbers of refugees coming into their communities from Syria and elsewhere. There are dancers among them.
Edited 09-21-2015 04:26 AM
08:32 PM ET (US)
Are there any prophetic dancers performing up against the razor wire in Christian Hungary? On which side of the border are they dancing?
Diane Hobelaid
11:53 PM ET (US)
 I think Jesus lived on the fringe - the place of risk, where outsiders were pushed, and He created insiders from them. God is not a "tame lion" as C.S. Lewis would say. He is a God for whom risky living is a calling, to bring His love to all those hungry for it. I hadn't considered dancing with fire - I would love to learn more about doing that! Perhaps not this year when our forest fire risk is so high - we have had the driest year on record, as has much of the world. Maybe I should focus on dancing with water!

One of the advantages of keeping the arts on the fringe of the church, and the world, is that it can become a conduit for people moving from one to the other. Does it help us question the status quo, and discover God more deeply? Does it grapple with the issues of the current generation from a Christian world view, and thereby allow seekers to find God in the nitty gritty of their lives in the world?
Lucy Jarasius
10:43 PM ET (US)
It occurred to me that reservations about "fringe" artforms probably come from people's beliefs about what is "holy" or "sacred" and in an attempt to keep what goes on in church "gatherings" or "worship services" pure/untainted by the excesses rife in popular culture and contemporary society, some important learning/ministry opportunities can be missed. It's always difficult to make decisions about what is acceptable and not acceptable in terms of new artforms emerging amongst artists who profess to follow Christ, because art and life are NOT STATIC... music, singing and dancing, although around for millennia, at least, are always in a process of "becoming", a progression, or dare, I say, evolution. There are many training methods for classical ballet for example... RAD, BBO, Vaganova, etc etc and classical ballet itself has evolved into modern ballet forms, not to mention the many streams of modern/contemporary dance techniques pioneered by people such as Martha Grahame, Merce Cunningham, Margaret Chapple, Erick Hawkins, all seen to be new and sometimes disconcerting in their day. Now we have all kinds of "street dance", techniques of "popping", "crunching" and other delectable dance moves. People who might go to see a Cirque du Soleil performance are incredibly moved and awed by the artistry but somehow not be able to connect such activity with their Christian faith. Others couldn't live without expressing life and faith in colour and movement etc. Some people like the classics, some people like "the latest thing", some people like both or a fusion of formerly disparate forms. There's always room for experimentation and exploration. However, when it comes to what is acceptable "in church", that's often a contentious issue, depending on the gathered community's traditions and theological understandings of who God is, what God does, how God does it, what "The Bible" is all about, and quintessentially, who Christ is - his person and his message. Around these core questions, Christian artists can find themselves in conflict with faith groups who get caught in "stasis" (struggling with a kind of paralysis) negotiating maintenance of a core and distinctly Christian identity/faith practice and the ability to move forward and be effectively living in current times. Something new may challenge a sense cohesion and safety in that group, because some people might like it, see the benefit of it, experience the good in it as overarching any possible "danger" in it, and some people might not. A bit of a shock to the system, so to speak. How must we think about this? What must we do with it? Those kinds of questions in some communities are met with instant dismissal, and sadly, permanent refusal. Others are more prepared to "journey" with new concepts and practices, faith WALKING into a future of the previously unknown, untried and untested. Walking the road together, accessing the wisdom of the more experienced and knowledgeable in what being discipled to Christ entails, means that wisdom and maturity about how to handle "the new thing" could be a formative and enjoyable experience for "the church"... I think we all would accept that "the church" is not the building, but rather the "living stones", the people, with and amongst whom God lives and communicates. Oftentimes, art is the best way to communicate what God would like to teach us and what God would like to experience with and amongst us! Those who have been appointed or elected to leadership roles have the responsibility of dialogue with the members of their gathered "church" about what artforms may or may not be acceptable for their particular context, their expression of worship and mission. I particularly appreciate the openness of ICDF to grapple with tricky issues, and am grateful for such opportunities as this Discussion Board to peaceably and respectfully explore them. In my experience of the Christian faith, there are "Elders", "Learners" and "Others". By "Others", I mean those who choose not to learn. I would like to think we are all perpetual "Learners". When we become "Elders", and surely we all will, if we live long enough in the faith, will we retain our ability to learn and grow together as a community, or will we always treat new and unusual things as automatic anathematic "other"?!
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
04:42 AM ET (US)
Some Christian fringe [slam] poetry from friend of ICDF, Joel McKerrow
And some from another CDFA friend, Cameron Semmens and bassist, Rod Gear
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
04:12 AM ET (US)
And some more
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
04:11 AM ET (US)
Some more from Annandale Arts
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
04:10 AM ET (US)
Some fringe art being used at Annandale Creative Arts - A project of Newtown Mission in Sydney
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
07:30 AM ET (US)
What are your own thoughts about fringe art and its usefulness to the Church today in mission and ministry?

And we would be interested on your thoughts about where should we draw the line morally, creatively and culturally?

The two previous blogs were just an introduction to the topic. It is worthwhile reading Dr Colin Harbinson's August 2015 ICDF newsletter article as well.

Oh! And if you have some good, funny and topical photos or cartoons, please feel welcome to post those as well. Let's have some fun with this topic.
Edited 07-23-2015 11:45 PM
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
07:13 AM ET (US)
I am posting something I wrote last year in an article which has a section which talks about the Church's usage of art, which touches on the topic of fringe art in worship and mission. (The full article is available on request. It is an academic study paper of 25 pages and is the first chapter of a book I am still writing).

Something which my favourite author, Walter Brueggemann says resonates with me as I try to imagine a new emergence into a fresh renaissance of grassroots, counter-cultural, missionally inclusive and socially relevant Christianity, which people want and will see their need to become a part of. But in order to see that occur, we who are already part of Jesus’ Church first need to “commit an act of imagination” led by the Spirit “that permits us to see and live differently [and] run upstream, against the grain of dominant reality”. These are subversive words, necessary because if the current paradigm of what exists as Church is to change for the redemptive better, it will take subversive prophetic imagination and thinking in order to conceive, voice, advocate and insist upon “a gospel perception of lived reality” that is more genuinely authentic to the leadership of the Spirit than the one we thought we already had previously.
To clarify this “imagination” concept of Brueggemann’s further, he explains that, “In the community of faith, to “imagine” does not mean “to make up.” It means, rather, to receive, entertain, and host images of reality that are outside the accepted given”. He follows that with a series of further questions and answers which clarify more about what he means: “If, however, we say we “receive” images, then we may ask, receive from whom? Or, receive for whom? The answer we give is that what the psalmists and liturgists imagine and shape and offer is given by God’s Spirit, for it is the Spirit who bears witness… It is the Spirit who moves in the faith of the community and in the artistry of the poet to give voice to the odd truth of our common life”.
Eugene Peterson, in his book “Practise Resurrection” poses the question, “Why are artists so necessary?” within the Church, and indeed the wider world itself. He then suggests that it is not just about making us aware of previously the complexity and unseen beauty, but in the multiplicity of diverse ways they bring to our attention “the way things actually are” within the innumerable exigencies of our daily lives.
The power of art to give fresh and innovative expression to alternatives in human life through poetry, music, poetry, theatre, canvas and prophetic counter-cultural discourse gives it strong subversive potential that has been proven repeatedly throughout human history. Brueggemann says, “Artists, at their best, are open to a live edge against the complacency of power and control”. He is referring to those dominant establishment powers which enforce their own self-serving way upon people, often using the force of unequitable and oppressive legal systems or in the worst case scenario, at the point of a gun, to exploit others and to ensure their continuance as the ruling status quo. As an example he describes Jesus’ “triumphal approach to Jerusalem that became a death watch for old ossified faith and a trial of the Roman Governor”. It was an artistic act that witnessed “to the depth and complexity of the city in ways” that affirmed and questioned, celebrated and subverted what was going on religious-politically at that time, and issued a very provocative counter-cultural alternative to what was currently on offer by the ruling establishment classes of those times. There is no question that performing such art is fraught with dangers for the artist, as is emphasised by Jesus finally being charged with sedition and being crucified by both the Jewish and Gentile ruling authorities.

The same applies to within the Church. Where Church suffers from a collective amnesia about what God’s original mission for this was, it often from the cries of its prophets margins giving voice to their dissent from the cultural margins through varieties of innovative counter-cultural and artistic expression, that it is recalled back to its history and challenged back into fidelity of Christ’s root callings for it to accomplish within the Scriptures. As its 2000 year-long and fairly morally-chequered history of power-abuse, its numerous compromises with ethically-dubious religious-political- domineering institutions and their systems, and its repetitive marriages to socially-exploitative cultural-elites at the expense of the poor indicate, the Church constantly is in desperate need of fresh reminders of its Lord’s original teachings, exhortations and discipleship calls to it in response to those matters. And it is through the art of its prophets – today its artists, poets, and its voices of theologically-informed dissent - that it often receives timely reminders of those corrective things and about far more biblically-authentic praxis being reimagined for its future.

For those interested, the bibliography for the above Brueggemann, Walter. (2007). Mandate To Difference: An Invitation To The Contemporary Church. Louisville, Kentucky, Westminster Press, p. 11 and Brueggemann, Walter. Ed. Sharp, Carolyn. (2011). Disruptive Grace: Reflections on God, Scripture, and the Church, (Fortress, Minneapolis), p. 238, 239.
Although Brueggemann is talking here about worship, I believe it equally applies to the Church re-imaging and contemplating its future under the leading and impulse of the Spirit.
Peterson, Eugene. (2010). Practise Resurrection: A Conversation On Growing Up In Christ. (Colorado Springs, Hodder & Stoughton), p. 139-140).
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