Formation Matters takes its name from a simple, but evocative play on words. If taken literally, the phrase suggests the relevant topics or concerns relating to formation. Rhetorically however, the phrase implies the overall importance of formation. In a third turn of the phrase, it also hints at the substance or physicality of the artists’ creations through which viewers engage the initial two turns of the phrase.*
This plurality of meaning allows for the same in the directions of work chosen for the exhibit. While all the artwork in some way deals with memory and tradition, it also embodies a variety of conceptual approaches. Both Donovan Widmer and Patrick Luber investigate the dynamic and formative relationships between religion and culture. Whereas Katelyn Reiter and Mary Kocal explore the power of family narratives within their own lives. My own work, and that of Cherith Lundin, raises questions about the ambiguities and possible loss of traditions. Micah Bloom’s recent work on the 2011 Minot flood haunts the space between these two positions as a metaphor by regarding his childhood formation and the passing of the paper book. Additionally, while all artists work from particular traditions and influences, be it media or school, John Kaericher’s work often makes explicit visual ties to his mentors.
In these ways, the exhibit offers another voice into the conference conversations. Building around the theme of Teaching Theology and Handing on the Faith, the exhibition is rooted in the belief that the visual arts can be remarkable catalysts within these conversations, as well as profound symbols and mediations of the Divine. While the church has historically drawn upon the devotional and didactic potential of art, the engagement and contemplation of contemporary art allows divergent points of affirmation and provocation of its traditions.
*The beginning is a modification of Liz Well's introduction to her wonderful text, Land Matters
After a very busy day yesterday with a lot of help from my niece Brittany, the exhibition is up and looks great. The conference starts this evening with the first plenary speaker and people have been trickling into campus. I am so thankful to CTS & Creighton for allowing me this little artistic experiment within a theological conference. I am also in debt to the artists who have shared their work with me and made this a great looking exhibition.
I have put together a hastily edited and unedited collection of images from the show into a gallery below. I will update names and piece titles when I have more time.
Well, here is the first post on the new site.
Here it goes...
Its interesting to me how often a certain ideas or discussion occur in bunches...as in when different people, of different groups bring up similar ideas and you laugh internally thinking, "didn't I just have this conversation with so and so?" Well this post is kind of like that for me.
I wouldn't say that I was necessarily a fan of all that thegospelcoalition.com folk put out, but this article was pretty well done and fair. What are Evangelicals to do with the creeds and councils? I grew up in an evangelical Reformed church where the Apostles Creed was said regularly and we were certainly aware of other the other creeds, like the Nicene, which was said perhaps once a year. So in someways, the title and and even the necessity of the statement would for much of my life seem absurd..."What do you mean, 'what do we do with the creeds and councils'?" We use them as a guide and rule for our faith. But it was on a plane somewhere over the US when a devout Southern Baptist stranger in the seat next to me asked what I was reading. It was Alister McGrath's scant volume on the Apostle's Creed. He was my age, which then was about 30, and he had never heard of the Apostles Creed. I was dumbstruck. I know that Baptists are non-creedal folk, except for the very creedal statement "No creed but the bible." I had assumed that while it may not be prefigured into their lives of faith, that it was still known.
I appreciate the writers attempt to connect the Evangelical tradition with the larger history of the church and many of the points he makes does counter prevailing assumptions about Evangelicals and tradition. I am still skittish about how he might be referring to the authority of scripture and its inspiration in a culture of individualism, where we say we place the authority upon scripture as the norm, but authority is still tied to our interpretations of that, and thus the authority we confirm upon scripture is really rooted in the individual prone to distortions of all kinds and claims of truth. It is exactly for this reason the Evangelical church is in such desperate need of the catholicity of faith, across the ages, and around the world, which necessarily includes the Creeds and Councils.