How Words Become Flesh: Language as Mystery and Art
The Image Seminars gather together small groups of people who care passionately about the ways that art and faith can renew our culture.
As the name “seminars” signifies, we place a strong emphasis on dialogue and communion and make time in the schedule for meaningful conversations. The meals we share together also allow for more intimate exchanges that often become the basis of lasting friendships.
Eugene Peterson will be our host and discussion leader. He will not only read from his work, but will offer us exercises for meditation and reflection.
Eugene recommends that all participants read his book Tell it Slant to prepare for our conversations, and meditate on how we can embody the word of God in the particularities of our lives, and keep our language from becoming flattened by generalities and abstractions.
One of the ongoing challenges that people of faith must face is how to use language in such a way that our words are embodied, lived robustly in the quotidian as we show up for work, take out the garbage, change diapers, weed the garden. Living by faith is neither a performance nor a legalistic concern over our standing before God; rather, the true Christian life—in Seattle and Chicago and Kalamazoo—is lived at the busy, heavily trafficked crossroads where the kingdom of this world intersects with the Kingdom of God, what the psalmists liked to call “the land of the living.”
We need language adequate to the task. The glories of language are constantly being debased to clichés and reduced to mere pragmatism. When we use language that depersonalizes God or our neighbor, veering into abstractions, propaganda, or gossip, the life leaks out of what we say and write, teach and pray. We are left with nothing but godtalk.
Language—given to us by God so that we can receive and give witness to the life of God among us—is constantly at risk. And so we must return again and again to the purifying sources that are capable of renewing language, which we might call poetry and prayer: literature and the creative language that emerges from the hearts of true pilgrims and mystics.
Our seminar will cultivate an awareness of Jesus as the Word made flesh, and of the allies we find in the company of writers and artists as we seek to make our language more vibrant, authentic, and more deeply connected to the life of our bodies.