Friday, 21 June 2013

Postcard Theology

Our guest post  today is from the Reverend Andrew Hall who is Curate at St. Martin's Brighouse & St. John's Clifton, West Yorkshire.  I met him at Art from the Heart where he works in tandem with Dyan Reaveley  to enable participants to take part in a Postcard Theology workshop.

A strange name for a blog post I know, however ‘bear with’ and more will be revealed.
This concept has evolved by interaction with groups of people with differing levels of biblical literacy and creative skills; ranging from an Aged person’s luncheon club to artists and students in a studio in the north of England.

The concept combines the pilgrimage and biblical literacy of the Christian life; the ‘being and doing’   Both speak to each other of journey, and one without the other isn’t good for the soul.

What better place to start this journey than with the “Songs of Ascents” the collection of Psalms from 120 to 134. Most scholars agree that these are likely to be songs that were sung by pilgrims as they were journeying to Jerusalem for the three great feasts - where we get our Easter, Pentecost and Harvest festivals. Quite literally because of the topography of the surrounding land, the pilgrims did ascend to Jerusalem.

Reading this group of psalms in succession, one does get a real sense of journey, including the ups and downs of life, something that we can all understand.

My engineering and academic background, which is full of quantitative data and statistical information, can sometimes leave my ‘left brain’ very sore!  My darling wife has helped to release my ‘right brain’ and its creative nature, through her mixed media classes. This is where the real breakthrough came, the meeting of ‘high concept and high touch.’

By combining these quotients I have devised, from the psalms, a series of postcards that give factual information, personal revelation, and lovely creative images.

Over the course of a session people in the group are introduced to a psalm and given time and space to think and meditate about the psalm. I ask them to think of a word or a phrase that comes to mind when reading it, then to consider what it means and how they could write about the word or phrase that appeals to them - what image does it evoke?

Combining the two creates a ‘haptic experience’ it connects left and right brain together. I can hear you say; “what does that mean?”  Haptic refers to one of our five senses – touch. The sense of touch and creativity combine with our cognitive reasoning, adding value to each other, reinforcing our learning experience.

What you write, imagine and produce on a “postcard theology” workshop has a lasting effect upon your journey of faith. Interestingly there is an Old Testament example of Haptics in the text of Numbers 15:37-41. The background to the story relates to the tassels on the garments of the Priest – as he walked around, the people would touch the tassels, this gave them a feeling of being in touch with the Torah, which was the code by which a good Jew lived his life.

Distilling information onto the postcards through different mediums enables us to retain a richer message intrinsically; this in turn affects how we share our story with others. Many times I have heard people say they have a deeper connection with what they designed, wrote and created.
  • To make a series of creative postcards around the song of ascents.
  • To increase biblical literacy through a cognitive, haptic experience.
  • Use art mediums, paint, sprays inks, gesso, watercolours, fabrics, indeed, any other media you care to choose!
  • Journaling thoughts and feelings of your own spiritual journey.
  • Increase research skills.
  • To promote dialogue in a safe space.

I hope you feel more enlightened by the background to my idea of Postcard Theology! 

Now enjoy some of the postcards….

Art Challenge
So your challenge today is to choose one of the Psalms between 120 and 134 and meditate on it.  Research it if you wish by looking through a commentary or online.  Then produce a postcard - size of your choice - to illustrate your meditation.

I hope you will try this and show us your work via the linky.