The mark of Love
I’ve been thinking about this thing called love. In last month’s letter love was a thread woven through the substance of what we do.
In terms of art we talk a lot about its potential to bring change, a change of perception, a change of heart, we tend to use the buzz word of transformation and quote our very wordy writer friend, Paul. We love to quote this little section of a letter written to a community of Followers of the Way, living within view of what must have appeared to be the gates of hell, in the ancient city of Rome.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The principle here of inner renewal and outer transformation is well established. For the work we produce, the transformation work can’t happen unless the inner work of renewal is under way (there’s no sense of completion, it’s a continual process), because it is not a one-time thing, renewal challenges us every day. However, we can’t put into a work of art what may be absent in our lives. Paul writes of conformity to a pattern, following the same old weave of life and in the case of Rome that weave must have followed the pattern of every self-indulgence, every excess.
So, is transformation fighting a losing battle? How do we understand transformation in such a cultural hotchpotch of ideas and passions? After this great call to renewal and transformation Paul grounds it in one thing. He doesn’t go on to talk of tearing down Institutions and Strongholds of darkness, of replacing the tyranny of Rome. He goes on to talk about…love. He writes, “Love must be sincere. Hate (yes hate) what is evil; cling to what is good.” He goes on to talk of hospitality, relationships and being patient when afflicted. I must admit, not the usual things I think of when thinking of transforming society. We always think of social transformation, political change, justice being served.
True, our work can be about that, but Paul is writing to us too, in this day and age. I think he tells the artists of the 21st Century to let their work follow the weave of love; not to follow the pattern of the currently available, off-the-shelf weave of self-indulgent expression, because that reveals conformity to this world’s weave and that will only make us collaborators in the status quo. Love should be at the heart of what we do and it is through love that the world changes, because the current pattern is about consuming rather than consummation.
Peace and Love,