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I attended a Pecha-Kucha event last night.

Pronounced “pay-chak-cha”, this phrase is Japanese for “the sound of conversation” or “chit-chat” as some have said. It refers to a specific event-method for presenting art-design projects and ideas. Each artist is allowed to present 20 slides/images for only 20 seconds each, amounting to 6 minutes and 40 seconds of presentation per participant. This corrals the often tangential, wheel-spoke thinking of designers and “keeps the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show“.

Started about seven years ago, Pecha-Kucha nights are a world-wide phenomena. I believe they now take place in about 200 cities globally (a number I heard last night, which is updated from the 100 cities their website boasts).

The event I went to last night was called, “Femmes Fatales” and was put on by the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. There were 17 designers who presented – originally 18, but one fell ill. I arrived late, which was apparently okay since things didn’t get started until about 7:45 p.m., 45 minutes after the scheduled start. This was nice, since there was beer and wine (for a donation) and many people seemed to be chatty and glad to socialize after coming from their places of work.

I entered the long, narrow room of the new LA Forum Gallery, formerly managed by Woodbury University’s Architecture program. The space was filled with a bunch of Hollywood types (always wanted to say that) with thick-rimmed glasses, colorful A-line dresses, and either no make-up or too much. Everyone had a bottle of beer or a plastic half-cup of red wine. I scanned the dimly lit room to find some light coming from a small doorway at the very end of the hall. Sure enough, I found the man with the cooler and suggested donation cup. Read the rest of this entry »

Prophets are misunderstood in America today. I don’t mean that what they say is confusing. I mean that our modern conception of what a prophet is and does fails to live up to the traditional definition of prophet as revealed in the Old Testament.

There are two dominant ideas about prophets today. The first sees prophets as mainly ‘future-tellers,’ mostly of scary things to come relating to Jesus. The second view prevalent today imagines prophets not as those concerned with the future, but rather ones ‘righteously indignant’ about social injustices abounding in the present.1

According to one contemporary theologian, neither of these diverging visions truly articulates the biblical conception of the prophetic role. Instead of acting as harbingers of end-times doom or conversely angry church politicos, Walter Brueggeman claims that the

[t]ask of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousess and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.2

According to Israelite tradition, prophets were all about ‘evoking perceptions’ about reality. How did the prophets do this? In ancient Israel, they often used passionate words to convince the hearers about the way things ought to line up in God’s economy. Some prophets took action (in the case of Ezekiel very strange action) that metaphorically and tangibly conveyed an alternative perception of reality for all those who were witnesses to the prophet’s life and ministry.

If the above critique is true, who then are the ‘real’ prophets of our age? We could assume it is the religious pundits and preachers who purvey their visions of God’s reality before eager ears. This may be accurate in part. However, our world no longer deals exclusively in word-driven communication.

Technology has turned our society away from being a culture of words. Our world – now brimming with videos, sounds, pictures, computer screens, movies, the internet, and more – is not one of words alone, but of multi-media language.

I believe that today’s prophets are the ones with mastery over today’s media language, who at the same time understand God’s ‘alternative’ to the popular consciousness. These are the ones with the powerful potential to “nurture, nourish, and evoke” a new and true vision – a vision of the real kingdom of God. I am speaking of the twenty-first century artists–of-faith.

The artists-of-faith are precisely the ones in whom I am investing most of my time and energy. While continuing to ‘help churches worship better’ (since 2003) I am adding a new aspect to my ministry through Church Resource Ministries (CRM). I am gathering women and men to start Arts Collectives. These are simply groups of diversely gifted individuals who invent new and culturally saavy ways to inspire spiritual dialogue among their neighbors.

This task is significant since almost 100% of Christian artists are currently only using their skills for church services.

Instead, I am calling artists who are worshipers and leaders out of church to not just lead believers, but to lead culture.
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1 Walter Brueggeman, The Prophetic Imagination (Fortress Press, 1978), 12-13.
2 Ibid., 13.