According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future
aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater
Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma
It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds
assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

Monday, May 5, 2014

Transformance Art in Pyrotheology - Breaking the Cycle of Repression through Dialectics

Continual Subversion:
Pyrotheology, Dialectics, and the Art of Disruption

by Peter Rollins
April 25, 2014

The term “Transformance Art” was coined a number of years ago to describe the praxis of Pyrotheology. Transformance Art is basically a practice that employs various art forms in an attempt to disrupt, disturb, surprise and confront a given individual/community with themselves. This disruption involves bringing to light the things that the individual/community have repressed, things that are likely causing suffering and/or violence. This is why terms like “doubt,” “brokenness,” “lack,” and “self-examination,” are so central to the lexicon of Pyrotheology.

However, when teaching on the subject, I’m often asked what would happen should this transgressive discourse ever achieve popularity. Basically the question is, “if Pyrotheology were to become a new orthodoxy, would that not undermine it’s own ability to unnerve and subvert us”?

This question revolves around the insight that any system of belief can become a type of enclosure to prevent us from being shocked by our own being and disturbed by our own acts. Indeed, as New Atheism makes clear, even a discourse that champions certain forms of non-belief can fall into this trap.

What is missed here is the way that Transformance Art is not designed to preach some system of belief (or non-belief), but rather to encourage a form of dialectic movement in the lives of those who participate (*development through a back-and-forth movement between opposing propositions).

Take the true example of a young man in analysis who described his attachment to a particular woman in terms of a drug addiction. During a session he spoke of how he sought the high of the connection with her even though these were inevitably followed by long, dark lows. As the session came to an end the therapist simply asked if the young man was in fact an addict who was seeking after the lows rather than the highs.

This rhetorical question had the effect of opening up a new line of thought in the analysand (sic, a person undergoing analysis), one that enabled him to explore the idea that he might get something out of his depression, and might even be seeking it out in some unconscious way.

The question asked by the analyst in this session is an example of how a type of dialectic movement might be encouraged, one that can effectively shake an individual out of a certain groove of thought. In a subtle way the analyst was able to present an opposite idea that seemed to uncover a more complex relation to pleasure and pain in the analysand, one that he was previously unaware of. In this brief moment the analysand was surprised by himself and disturbed in a fruitful way.

This is a dialectic move precisely because the negation is already a negation of negation. For when the question, “Are you actually seeking the low” is posed, there is an implication that the individual might be seeking the low because that is where the real high is. In dialectic terms it works like this,

Affirmation – I’m seeking the high

Negation – I’m seeking the low

Negation of negation – I’m seeking the low because I get some kind of high from it

From this insight the analysand might be more able to self-interrogate why he holds onto painful situations.

This example can help us understand one of the fundamental opening moves of Transformance Art. For those who put these events on are committed to a type of dialectic dynamic which attempts to uncover the hidden shadows of the conscious affirmations in a given group. All of which is in the service of surprising the community with its own repressed content (with the hope that this disruption leads to a more healthy, active and joyful community).

This means that Transformance Art aims to be an inherently subversive discourse, one that continually attempts to negate the affirmation of a particular group, regardless of what that affirmation is.

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