I do not worship G.K. Chesterton like I am tempted to worship C.S. Lewis in his glory.
Chesterton once observed that people who do not know Jesus simultaneously accuse him of opposite vices. To some, He is too judgmental. To the same some, He is too soft. He is too liberal, but also too legalistic.
A man who can be accused of opposites is likely to be living righteously.
I dream of a fellowship that can be seen as pharisaical and liberal, conservative and radical, pietistic and outward, silent and abrasive, passive and aggressive, laborious and lazy.
I do not know what this fellowship would be called right now, so let me think about it for ten minutes. It would be part of the Church. It would be the workplace for brothers called to the same vocation, the resting place, a place of worship, a place of hospitality and solitude.
I admire the individual who pursues glory, who seeks after God, through his own work. His work – no matter what it is – is how he communes with the God of work. His rest is seen in the same light, because he rests from the work that pleases him. Rest is not separate from work, but is the fruit of it. He rests with the God of rest at a feast and continues his labor through it and during it, perpetually refreshed and pleased.
If I could draw a caricature of this individual, he would be the heroic artist. He would be Beethoven as the extreme, the man obsessed with his own craft. The more balanced version of this individual would be Bach, the man obsessed with his God. Both commune with God, but Bach is admirable for his self-forgetfulness even with immense skill. Bach is not a heroic artist, he is a saintly artist.
This is a world increasingly divided, ghettoized, district-ed. The world has been an international community as long as there have been nations, but it has only been a global community for less than two hundred years.
Major contributors to this change:
telepathy [coming soon]
The hope was that these technologies would connect distant communities that had not been connected. And this happened, but the more streets layed down, the more alleys and blocks for building.
This is what has happened. The world is now so connected, that there are thousands of empty plots of land for opinions, blogs, cults, groups, clubs, religions, fetishes, exclusivity, personalities, media, indie bands, reviews, etc. cque.
You know this world, this is the world of global ghettos. It could not exist without the technologies our Fathers of Progress hoped would bring global unity.
Global ghettos are not a bad thing. They offer a delicious opportunity. Here is a basic presentation of what has happened:
smalltown -> globaltown -> globalcity -> globalized smalltown
When the wishful youth looks out at this open and wild landscape, he perceives the freedom to be heard by the entire world. He can find a place – there is always an empty plot somewhere – to establish himself as a hero. The wishful youth becomes the heroic artist! He will change the world through and to and by their vision of force!
Refreshingly – and thankfully – no single one of these fools will “change the world.” Because of their similar ambitions, they preserve the landscape of heroic artists en masse. The only ones chosen out of the cesspool of the global City of Man are sacrificed to the idols of capitalization. They are simultaneously sacrifices and martyrs. They lose their individual identities to become hyper-personalities, hyper-individuals. They are worshiped in their passing by youths propelled by jealousy. Major corporations have begun to realize that the life cycle for these manufactured eternal souls is about five years. After the drugs and aids – the publicized personal life – they trod off into obscurity and maybe the major motion flop twenty years later. Remember him? What a haircut.
The most successful live peaceful lives in their globalized smalltown. Maybe they start a band and have 5,000 facebook likes. Out of those 5,000 likes, maybe 4,539 have heard them and enjoyed they do. Cool band, bro! Glad I checked you guys out. Out of those 4,539, only 2,702 have made them money. The band is only a part-time gig for the successful globalized smalltown artist. Still, 5,000 facebook likes is enough for his friends to believe he made it. Not as big as J Biebz, but his five years is almost up.
The heroic artist is dead. He had a good run. The world is too fractured for an individual visionary to topple it. In order to topple something, it has to be stable. Forgive me for mentioning Beethoven again, but he is the perfect example. Before him stood hundreds of years of a stable musical tradition. He stood before the brick wall, hammer in hand.
Now, after all these years and all the heroic artists, the wall is a pile of bricks. It can still be moved – certainly – but that is better done brick-by-brick than by pushing. A man cannot push a pile of bricks, hoping that it will move any significant distance.
What is the visionary going to do? What is next?
The heroic artist is dead, but he had two sons during his stint in the global ghettos.
The first son looks the most like him, but he has a smaller build. He is the one who has the desire to change the world, but the “world” he wants to change is really his local community. He is the local artist, not the indie artist. He is known by everyone in one neighborhood, but to the neighborhood on the other side of the city, who cares? He is the local heroic artist.
The second son is a different beast entirely. The world does not know him, the world does not know what he looks like, and the world does not, at this point, care.
FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT NOW
The second son is the fellowship artist. The fellowship artist has an individual personality to his brothers only. Let us call him Jeff. Hi, brother Jeff!
He is one cell in the organism that is now the artist fellowship. The artist fellowship now bears the responsibilities of an individual. He is an organism, a body. He is brothers. I have had ten minutes, so let us call him Blessed Poor. Hi, Blessed Poor!
Blessed Poor produces collaborative artwork, where the individuals underneath it take no credit. It writes books that say, “Written by Blessed Poor” or “Published by Blessed Poor Press.” Where are the individual names? What does it matter?
For thousands of years, masterpieces of literature, music, paint, sculpting, and every other art form have been done by individuals. The previous world structure allowed for these strong personalities, as well as individual patrons.
But now, the world is almost entirely restructured into a form not much different than the previous. There are still patrons, but the patrons are entire communities. There are still artists, but the most prominent artists will be communities.
The second son is an entire global ghetto.
This vision may seem unclear, but we see through a glass darkly. Let it be known that it will happen – perhaps it already is in some places – and it will be a good thing.
The infrastructure for this is both old and new. There are the monasteries and writing colonies of the past. There is the global community of the present. While artist fellowships are not the only conclusion of this environment, the only cause of artist fellowships would be this environment.
The individual artist could easily begin exploring the artist fellowship. First, he must admit and confess his pride. Second, he must look beyond himself for skill. Third, he must fellowship with these artists. Last, he must work with them. Their first patron is the globalized smalltown within which they exist.
This is an application of the importance of place. We are no longer rooted in geographic regions, but global regions. If we believe that geographic regions are the only legitimate places, our pursuit of this will be both fabricated and condemning. It would be hard to pursue place in geography without forsaking the technologies that have so rooted us in each others’ lives.
You are no hero. Your community is the hero.