Friday, January 30, 2015

On Arts Entrepreneurship

"Arts entrepreneurship" is a term that, besides being a mouthful, is probably unfamiliar to most. It is a newer concept and a newer discipline. So new, in fact, that it was not part of my liberal arts-influenced Conservatory undergraduate education, which I finished not quite four years ago. Essentially, it concerns the contemporary dynamic of being and working as a professional artist of any trade.

I do not consider myself a "practicing" artist, I consider myself anchored much more on the managerial/administrative side of things, but I certainly have more than a few friends who are "practicing" artists, and some of the concepts within arts entrepreneurship apply to me anyway given the day and age and society in which I live.

But enough from me. The reason I bring it up at all here is because I came across two pieces on the subject in my reading, and thought it was time I prove that this young professional is paying attention!

The first piece is from the current issue of The Atlantic, and traces the history of the professional artist's relationship to society at large and then analyzes the current relationship. It is a lengthy piece with quite a bit of substance on some major themes.

And the second is from the blog of the director of the arts entrepreneurship program at Arizona State University, Linda Essig. She offers a summary of the responses of her students to the prompt: "What does it mean to you to be an arts entrepreneur?" These students are just a few years younger than I, yet their thinking is different from the conversations on "life as an artist" I remember having in my undergraduate senior seminar. The field is continually changing, as I am able to see in my work for the Wheaton College Artist Series, in which I interact with a lot of younger, emerging artists, and also my conversations with current students at Wheaton College.

In any case, it is a topic I think I may need to start reading more about, as it will become continually more and more relevant to me personally and professionally.

Update January 31:
I found out that Linda Essig wrote a brief response to the essay in The Atlantic. She highlights the importance of the audience in the arts world. She writes: Artists "need to think of the audience for the arts as partners in an ongoing two-way relationship in which art is not consumed, but appreciated."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

On Waiting


Not quite a common theme for this season of Epiphany. The longing of Advent has since given way to the feasting of Christmas, that great turning point of redemptive history.

And yet, on the macroscopic level, waiting is the order of business for this time, these centuries between Christ's first Advent, the one celebrated every December, and the second, the one we are not yet able to celebrate because it is not yet here.

I came across two articles in my reading this week, this first full week after the Epiphany, on that theme, which I will highlight here along with my reflections after reading.

The first, by Jeff Strong for Christianity Today, focuses on an often-overlooked fact of the Christmas story (I confess I had never given it much thought), the fact that the shepherds and the Magi both returned, as far as we know, to the same lives they had had before. The next night the shepherds were back out with their sheep, and the Magi eventually made it back to their homeland and continued their scholarly pursuits. A little anticlimactic, when one actually considers that point.

And yet, it fits. After gathering for worship on Sunday mornings, a local congregation returns to their homes, and the next day to their places of work and study. But were the shepherds and Magi any different when they returned? Are we any different when we return from our weekly churchgoing?

The second article is more specifically about waiting. Amber Haines writes for The High Calling about a time in her life when she was very impatient for God to fulfill the promise to make all things new. But without waiting, without unmet desires, what use would there be for hope?

Are there times when we go through the motions of going to church and more often than not find ourselves bored with waiting for God to act? Or are we allowing this time of waiting, while in the midst of the everyday between Sunday and Sunday, between the first and second advents, to transform us?

Most people, being human, hate waiting. I hate waiting in traffic, in line, for the commercial break to end, for a response to that "urgent" email or text message I sent just thirty seconds ago, or for the brainwave that will allow me to finish this sentence. But I know that God is never behind schedule. If God has yet to act, it is because it is not yet time.

"It takes courage to return in a culture that continually invites us to move on," Strong writes. "We believe that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith," Haines writes, "and waiting becomes an active engagement with hope at its core."

We cry, "Come, Lord Jesus," and rightfully so. But sometimes, the response is, "be still and know that I am God."

Monday, January 12, 2015

From Meadowgate Farm

This past weekend, members of Adelphoi, Calvary Memorial Church's young adult community, gathered at Meadowgate Farm (the retreat home of one of our elder's in-laws) in North Central Illinois, for our winter retreat. There were seventeen adults and three children, and we made good use of the home's nine bedrooms and plentiful common areas. A relaxed schedule of games, conversation, and an almost constant flow of food was the order of business for the weekend.

Meadowgate Farm, outside Orangeville, Illinois

Saturday morning sunrise over North Central Illinois

Kirk Baker, who with his wife Amy leads the young adult ministry, led our group devotional times. His topic for the weekend was, simply but profoundly, growth. He challenged us young adults to think 20, 30, 40 years into the future: would each of us be more mature in Christ at that point? We are always and constantly responding to something, to some situation or another, he observed, and it is the sum of those responses over time that either make us more like Christ or less. This is the process of sanctification, essentially.

The next question Kirk had for us was what role does the Cross have in our sanctification. It has a crucial role, we agreed (I use the word "crucial" intentionally as it has as its root the Latin word for cross). On his handout, Kirk had written about the Cross: "Through Christ his out poured grace we experience comfort, cleansing, and the power to change." In our Saturday evening devotional session we looked at two passages from Paul's writings (Galatians 2:20 and Romans 8:9-10, to be specific), which describe this concept. Our discussion further led us to the conclusion that not only does the indwelling of the Spirit allow us to have godly responses to temptation and difficulty situations and circumstances, but it allows us to receive grace and have the courage to continue when we fall and do not have godly responses.

Thanks, Kirk and Amy, for leading our time of rest and reflection over the weekend!

About half the members of my small group were able to attend the retreat. In the back, from left to right, are Jill, Jason, and me, and in the front are Adriana, Matt, and Charlene.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reading List 2014: Year-End Report

In July, I reported on the books I had read in the first half of 2014. Here is the promised companion post, with the books I read in the second half, again in order of completion:

Joseph A. Michelli, Leading the Starbucks Way
Jeremy Begbie, Resounding Truth
Todd Wilson, Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith
John Mark Reynolds, When Athens Met Jerusalem: An Introduction to Classical and Christian Thought
Ken Follett, Edge of Eternity

Not as many as I had hoped I would finish in 2014, but still an average of one per month. And I still have the unread part of that list I made a year ago, so I am already well on my way to lots of reading in 2015. At least in theory...