A Perspective Set Free (3 of 4)

As an artist and a student of philosophy, an honest perspective is essential. If there is no counter balance to my self-referencing subjectivity, I end up gravitationally locked into my own orbit – which makes for a pretty small universe. Both the artist and the philosopher are tasked with getting outside of the box enough so as to observe and interpret what’s happening in the box. So is this even possible – can we actually remove ourselves from the center of our own universe? This is precisely what I believe my Christian faith calls me to do – the act of worshipping God, forces me to recalibrate my perspective, to loosen my grip enough on my own universe to recognize the larger universe within which God has placed me.

Some may find this beyond counter-intuitive and downright antithetical to having an open mind. The idea of being tethered to an ego maniacal deity that requires praise is considered the very epitome of narrow mindedness. But more often than not, this is the conclusion of someone who is unaware of just how self-referencing their atheistic perspective truly is – filtering everything through the egocentric assumption that they are being open-minded by ironically dismissing something outside of their paradigm.

God doesn’t need our praise. It is in fact, we who require the clarity that comes from discovering that we are not God. In praising God we are given the gift of surrendering the little fiefdoms we’ve constructed around our opinions, of thinking our existential assessments are anything more than self-serving explanations. Rather, it is the transcendence found in God that becomes the fulcrum on which all else turns, by which all understanding is contextualized . . . because if a creator God actually does exist – then logic dictates that in order to truly understand creation one must first attempt some understanding of God.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAbXAAAAJDg1ZjZlY2UxLWNkMTgtNDY4Mi1hZjg1LTQwNzEyYmZiMzljOASo with my compass finally fixed on the true north of reality, I begin to see others, no longer through the limitations of my own evaluation, but as God sees them. They are the beloved of God, made in his image, given an immeasurable value. I am no longer free to steal from them dignity, or place myself in judgement of them – we are all equally in need of God’s grace . . . a transcendent appraisal of equality.

In contrast, the self-referencing person assumes that because they choose not to judge – that they are somehow non-judgmental. But that’s not the same thing as realizing that they aren’t actually qualified or entitled to be such an arbiter. Arguably, existential assessments of equality are by their very arbitrary nature inequitable – lacking an immutable foundation.

So if my perspective is to ever be set free, it will not occur by feigning objectivity, it will require something (someone) larger than myself to expand it for me. And like all artists, it is my resident desire to widen my perspective, to see what isn’t being seen, to be able to see differently what is in plain sight. This is likely why artists are so eclectic—always looking for new influences, a different take, another way around . . . to experience a new reaction – to unlock a new response.

This is from my Chiaroscuro Collection

Longing for a New Response

I chase my last thought back to a Pavlovian predetermined response
Kept under lock and key where I work this circle

Imagination is finite like the glimmer of a firefly
Against the star-flung beauty of the night
The light of a billion suns burning for a million years
To the forced perspective of my foolish eye, appears similar

Earth-bound dust of God’s breath
I capture light and peer into this mysterious black
Holding out my candle—longing for a new response.


Perspective: Lost in Translation (2 of 4)

For good or ill, each of us begins with ourselves as our own reference point – some of us are keenly aware of just how particularized to ourselves that reference point is, and some blithely assume their reference point is pretty much the same as everyone else’s . . . and so, needless to say, a breakdown in communication ensues. This is not simply a matter of whether or not one openly confesses their presuppositions (which many do not), but that there needs to be an intellectually honest epiphany, realizing that we are all mired in layers of our own context from which we are constantly interpreting everything! In short I am describing a need for a bit of epistemological self-awareness.

Imagine for a moment that you could communicate with fish, what it might be like to have to describe for a fish how they’d existed their entire life in water – and that there was actually a way of existing that wasn’t water. It would be nearly impossible, because it would fundamentally challenge the very way they had always known themselves. Now add to that communication the compounding realization that your own understanding (while making such an explanation) is nothing more than your interpretation of how reality works! No doubt, there is someone reading all of this thinking “I just see things the way they are – I’m not interpreting anything” . . . you have my permission to stop reading from this point forward.

My point here isn’t to extoll or somehow validate the foolishness of existential sophistry that attempts to deny the existence of truth. Truth is indeed a fixed point – it is our understanding of it that oscillates in flux. In the same way that words describing a thing,  no matter how accurate, is still not the same as the thing, itself – our interpretations of truth, no matter how accurate, are still not truth itself . . . they are still our limited appreciation of what we believe to be true. So there is in fact an important distinction between our knowing of truth and truth as it actually exists.

9510ce6b0848a588339dd026fe051b42So at best, we can only offer one another an interpretation based on the pieces of the puzzle our context affords us . . . and I have lived long enough to appreciate the limitations of my own context and how few of the pieces I assume I have a handle on.  Maturity has a way of sandpapering down the burrs of hubris. But one of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is that transcendent truth has a much broader bandwidth than we first imagine.  As an artist I intuitively know that all of the linear didactic explanations that pass between us are limited, only able to convey so much, that transcendent truth has deeper contours and textures, and far subtler facets than mono-dimensional discourse can achieve – this is likely why art moves us in such unexpected ways.

Therefore life isn’t worthwhile because it can be explained – it’s worthwhile because it can be savored in a myriad of ways on multiple levels at the same time. Perhaps this is why Psalm 34:8 invites us to come taste and see that the Lord is good! What too often gets lost in translation is our personal experience of the very truths we so adamantly profess. Here’s my point – could it be that our most convincing apologetic isn’t so much in the hard facts of our pronounced truths, but rather in the more anecdotal imprecision of how those truths have played themselves out in our lives? . . . and if you truly believed this were true – how would that change your explanation of what you believe?