The influence our manner of life can have on and within the prevailing culture for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, for the sake of the beautiful, for the sake of freedom, for the sake of wisdom: from where I am at present, I see two primary avenues for the Church to influence positively the prevailing culture in our current contexts, being primarily postmodern and post-Christian. Since my efforts are being channeled through the creation of the Imago Dei Society and the Red Hook Project, a primary avenue is simple presence – presence among emerging generations so that we understand the new contexts in which the Church must dwell and within the arts because those people within the arts are the moving edges of the culture.
For the Imago Dei Society, our charism is to understand the contexts of the lives of emerging generations. The best possible way to do so is to be present with those in that cohort. My goal is the development of ways for re-establishing an enduring presence of the Anglican tradition of Christianity on our college and university campuses. Focusing on witness and formation in a “pre-Constantinian” like society, we are working to establish live/learning intentional-communities of students that can provide for building strong relationships of fellowship and discipleship. This also presents to us a means for learning “on the ground” the dynamics of the changing lives and understandings of younger people.
Our presence on campuses where people of Faith in general, and Christians in particular, continue to be increasingly marginalized (and in some cases overtly objected to) provides a sane witness of the Life in Christ to the greater higher education community and provides support and encouragement for Christians wishing to live openly their Faith without apology. Whether we like it or not, understanding it or not, accept it or not, university and college graduates will be the leaders of politics, business, science, and industry in the decades to come. To be a positive and forming influence on these holders of society’s future is vitally important in building social structures that work for a sane, compassionate, and good society.
The Red Hook Space (the outcome of the Red Hook Project) will be our presence within a neighborhood context that includes a large number of artists and creative types. Part of the charism of the Red Hook Space is to begin the process of rebuilding trust and conversation among communities of people that have great misgivings of Christians and of the Church, at least as an institution. The artist community is at the forefront of the changes being realized within our emerging culture – artists of all types are the cultural movers and shakers.
Being present with and engaged creatively in the arts within the Space helps us understand and be a part of the continually changing dynamics within the arts. This type of ministry helps us live into and live out a primary aspect of being created in the image of God – we are creators with God of that which instills beauty, hope, reconciliation, and inspiration for the good. Our goal is to create wonderful, world-class art in all forms that bring beauty to a culture that is often bereft of it, to be a witness in the positive influence of our Faith in the creative endeavor, and to be witnesses of the creative power endemic in the Christian life (or at least should be).