The following is reposted from the BigBible Project
There has been quite a bit of debunking about alternative learning styles and right brain/left brain stuff lately. And the other day I found myself querying whether our love affair with art means that everything has just become too subjective. After all, a simple arrow does indeed point the way, but more complex images can often just get in the way where a simple statement could have helped so much more. In the end, pictures hit so many buttons with us that we can end up overflowing with meaning.
So in November, we went to see the Tower Poppies. An amazing piece of art - each poppy representing a lost life. But is it a place of honour or guilt? A place of remembrance or mourning. A place of patriotism or shame? Of course, it's a place for every one of those feelings. For me the power was in seeing the ceramic poppies as drops of blood, ceramic clots of death, ceramic clots of life washed away by the horror of war. And of course that links to the Sainsbury ad and all the problems of associating war and commercialism. It's so much easier to stick with penguins. Although perhaps keeping it in the family is the best idea? See here for Miranda Threllfall-Holmes' reflection or the Independent's of the whole Christmas ads saga.
Pictures, images, values, interpretation.
So, then I saw the #ChristmasStarts campaign and the political leaders Christmas cards and wondered if I could pull them together. Let's see...
#ChristmasStarts has launched with a series of Radio Ads.
Here is the first - and check the whole campaign...
And then they add an amazing video about the meaning of Christmas to different people...
I was surprised with David Cameron's Christmas Card. Now, there is a power statement. But I did wonder how it related to Christmas. Indeed, how all the leader's cards related to Christmas? Christmas starts with remembrance of ages past? Christmas starts with granddad asleep in the corner? Christmas starts at Number 10? But surely that is a complete reversal of the Christmas message? I mean, #ChristmasStarts in a feeding trough in a stable in a rather insignificant (Micah 5:2 says) place in a backwater of the Roman Empire. It doesn't start at Number 10. #ChristmasStarts with poverty and weakness and risk. #ChristmasStarts with the generosity of God giving his own son. #ChristmasStarts with family and celebration and gift of new life. How does this picture pick up on those themes?
Nick Clegg, of course, is an avowed atheist and so it would strange for him to associate himself with the #ChristmasStarts theme at all. Instead, Mr Clegg pictures himself in a series of passport photos with his wife, Miriam Durantez. Of course, the first thing is the concept of the passport photo - reminiscent of the current debate about immigration and passport control. And, of course, Ms Durantez was born in Spain. And, of course, Mary and Joseph came from up north to Bethlehem - travellers dragged south by government decree. And, at least in one of the Gospel accounts, they become refugees to Egypt after the birth. Part and parcel of the immigration issue? Refugees because of God's meddling in their lives? #ChristmasStarts with problems of where we live, where home is, what nationality we own and inhabit. #ChristmasStarts with knowing who our neighbours are. So, intriguingly, Nick's pic picks up a huge theme - are Mr and Mrs Clegg part of a nativity play representing Mary and Joseph in their wanderings?
The Milibands have made use of a classic family picture. All so Messy Church in the Miliband household. Breathtakingly simple. But also daring for someone who has professed both his Jewish identity and his non-believing stance in previous years. An adoption of a country's heritage - sticking glitter and cotton wool onto a card. Sharing the call for a Merry Christmas which begins with family laughing together around the kitchen table/play table. #ChristmasStarts. I love the laughter on this card (although those scissors are too close for comfort - a sword to the heart of Mary, a memento mori???). But the parental laughter encapsulates, brackets, includes, the children's awe and curiosity. The role of creativity is both an unknown and a place of security and fun. Hence the whole phenomenon of Messy Church and Christingles which have become so important for helping families celebrate when #ChristmasStarts (although does Kate Bottley go too far?). A simple message which tells an interesting story of embracing the unknown, the uncertain, the moment.
What are the images around your own understanding of Christmas and what are those images opening up for us. What image would you associate with the hashtag #ChristmasStarts?
Of course, for me #ChristmasStarts and ends with the baby and with the amazing picture John paints in the words of the Prologue and so amazingly captured in the Lindisfarne Gospels...In principio erat verbum... In the beginning was the word... and you just can't put that amazing word into one picture at all.
Although, perhaps GoggleBox's very own Rev Kate Bottley manages to???