During Advent this year, I created a video reflection to accompany the devotional book by our denominational publishing house. I was desperate to find a way to engage folks in this holy season. Or, even more honest, I was desperate to reclaim the holy season from the consumerist frenzy. You don’t get to steal my Advent, capitalism. **Said with furiously shaking fist!** I learned a few things. I made this video to talk about some of the things I learned.
Of the lessons learned, one of the most startling was becoming aware of how uncomfortable I am with viewing myself. As noted in the video, there is scientific reason behind it. You can listen to a Radio Lab show about it, here. There are also the sociological and psychological reasons for it. Namely, that as women we aren’t encouraged to be ok with who we are without a sense of refining, e.g. make-up. Culturally, we are encouraged to present our selves as perfectly as possible, refined by instagram filters and 50 shots to post one selfie. In an effort to do that, we lose the very self we are trying to express.
As Colleen Kwong proclaimed the value of art in worship at the Women and Worship conference, she highlighted that it “holds a mirror up to see ourselves.” She was speaking about the art we use in worship. The art we choose even for the front of a bulletin reveals our values and commitments. The art we create becomes reflections of who we are.
I would not lift the video series I did as art, anymore than text on a page could be considered art. Using a different medium than normal, though, allowed me to see myself in a new way. See myself without refinement and opened the door to discover which “me” has more value.
In church life, there is pressure to do everything perfectly well like the megachurch. (Those are the pastors writing the best-selling books, right!) So much so that the things we do well get brushed aside because they are as polished as the latest YouTube sensation repackaged for the evening news. Art is not art because it reveals perfection. Art is art because it reveals life. What could we be if our goal was to reflect ourselves rather than what we think people want? I don’t want a flat mass produced poster of Monet’s water lilies. I want to see the layers and layers and layers of paint piled up on the canvas, even it is just for one afternoon.