The Monday evening class I am teaching--Creative Process--is causing me to examine and collect my thinking on the whole idea of how creativity works, where ideas come from and how one develops ones own 'creative process.' I have been less than enthralled with the 'it comes out of the air mode' as a stand alone view for a while now--I do think that inspiration comes in flashes, but I think those flashes come because work has and is being done. Fortunately, there are lots of people much brighter than me thinking in this area, so I have lots of stuff to steal (which, of course, is part of the process-one has to be in communion or dialogue with the world in order to create). I have been particularly helped by Kirby Ferguson's Everything is a Remix project. The students are going to start reading Reality Hinger by David Shield's and we are going to livin into Martha Stewart's dictum, Fill the Void, i.e. create the stuff you want to read/see/hear/touch/taste/feel and do that by becoming aware of what already is...and remix it.
So, we are off and running on a new term. I am teaching a couple of classes, two modules online and one on campus. The campus class is Theology and Media Culture and I decided to completely overhaul it--nothing like last minute decisions to stir things up, but I wanted to chart some different territory this time around. The central theme is going to be transmedia entertainment--communication via multiple media platforms and what that does both to content and to us--hopefully it will be interesting enough to get people thinking a little more deeply about these things.
I have been pretty much of a lifelong journaler. Like many people, I began with words on paper, but over time I have shifted more towards a combination of words, collage and collation. I don't really record all the events or activities of my life as much as the way I feel on particular days with some visual accompaniment. I have also collected the works of other journalists-everything from Pepys' diaries to Frida Kahlo and Warhol, Dan Eldon. But for me, Peter Beard is the single biggest influence. He is a renowned photographer of both fashion and Africa, but its his journals that have really captured my interest. The video above, which has been sitting on my desktop for ever, is his contribution to a project that could be found all around London at one point, and I have to say that I think his elephant took the biscuit.
There are two people who I think who bring game-changing ideas and perspectives to the muddy waters of the emerging/alternative conversations about the church and its futures--Pete Rollins and Kester Brewin. I'm fortunate to count them both as friends and theological soul mates (if only I believed in the soul-haha!). Pete gets more attention this side of the pond because he is around a lot more and travels speaking etc. but Kester shouldn't be underestimated in terms of what he brings to the table. His latest book, Other: Loving self, God and Neighbor in a world of fractures, has recently been released here in the U.S. and I want to encourage everyone to read it. It's a book about options--options to the status quo of mainstream thinking, but also a challenge to the conventional wisdom of much of the emerging conversations. Kester draws from a unique pool of resources and ideas and Other is the fruit of his thinking--thinking about pirate utopias and TAZ(temporary autonomous zones ala Burning Man and Greenbelt), about how and in what ways we might relate to each other, to God and to ourselves in the 21st century.
Kester rattles cages, he is not content to make small adjustments at this point in the game, he is asking hard questions of himself, of us, and is offering up game-changing responses to the current situations that the church finds itself in. I think he is an important theologian for our time and I think Other is a must-read for anyone trying to get their head around the contours and shapes of religion at the turn of the 21st century, so if you haven't read it yet...