The Danger of Isms - Part 3 - The Search for Meaning

Over the past 2 weeks we've explored isms and the dangers they present. This week we continue this journey with The Search for Meaning.

The Yasmina Reza play, ART, follows the story of 3 friends whose relationships are challenged when one of them buys a completely white, minimalist painting for $200,000.

Isms are everywhere and tend to be accompanied by the statement "Convert or die!" Because of this it seems to be the case that every 'ism' creates as schism.

Minimalism was a reaction to abstract exppressionism, which was a reaction to surrealism, which was a reaction to expressionism, which was a reaction to impressionism, which was a reaction to realism, which was a reaction to romanticism, which was a reaction to Neo-classicalism, which was a reaction to classicalism!


This demonstrates how Isms are often created as a reaction to other dogmas.


King Solomon, has been called the wisest man in history and is famously quoted in the book of Ecclesiastes: "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!" He continues to say "Life's a corkscrew that can't be straightened, a minus that won't add up."


We spend most of our lives trying to straighten the corkscrew that can't be straightened, rather than just using it to open the wine and enjoy life!

When it comes to white paint on a white canvas, the question is not "What is there?" but instead "What do you see?"

In the same way, when it comes to the question of life, don't ask "What is there?" but instead "What do I see?"

So, if what's important when looking at a blank canvas is what each of us see, is what we see a revelation, a reflection, or a projection of who we are?


None of us have seen God, so when it comes to what we see when we look at the blank canvas of the mystery of God and the Christ, is what we perceive coming from a revelation, a reflection, or a projection from our upbringing and experiences?

When looking at the blank canvas, we all see something different!


"To those who feel they've had their life painted in every detail and feel that their life is a cluttered canvas of everyone else's ideas, you are going to see it differently to those who do not consider their canvas to have been cluttered by the hand of outside influences."

"What you see, is what you see!"

When faced with a blank painting it's easy to think that only our interpretation is the correct one or that it should all be dismissed as stupid.


Setting our perspectives in concrete like this changes how we interact with one another:

We no longer see others as questioners, we see them as unbelievers.

We no longer have companions on a quest, we have enemies to a conclusion.

We no longer have difference of opinion, we have heretics.

We no longer have curiosity, we have conformity.


The Minimalist wants to clear the slate of life to invite us to see what's within us and beyond our current prescribed beliefs.

"If you are one who has been overburdened with meaning, you are very likely to find a place for the existence of no meaning."

MinimalISM is the pretentious form of art, stripped in its artwork of any meaningful, symbolic, emotional and personal content, supposedly to explore the essence and substance of things. However, the MinimalIST philosophy glorifies a style in which it all comes down to the simplest and most necessary elements. The goal was to reduce the subject to essentials that were all functional, thus creating void spaces and a sense of freedom.


"Minimalist objects blurs the lines between dimensional perspectives and sculpture and it does the same in spirituality. Space is important, darkness is as important as light and instead of a cluttured canvas of imposed dogmas, learnt doctrines and hand-me-down beliefs, we are invited into a process in which "what you see, is what you see."

Are we in need of a new kind of minimalist when it comes to God and the gospel?


Has our canvas become so cluttered by the interference of others and isms that we are no longer afforded the freedom to see what we see?


Was Jesus the minimalist painting, held in contrast against the expressed legalism, confusing the image of the one, true, honest, authentic, white canvas of great worth.


Take a fresh look at Jesus.


Maybe the value of a seemingly empty canvas is greater than we've ever imagined.


As we've learnt from quantum physics, maybe the empty canvas is full of invisible potentiality! Maybe a god freed from the clutter of our human projection can reveal to us a healthier and wholier image of Jesus and re-align us with what is really, truly beautiful about this gospel story.


Embracing this will take us past the danger of isms to see that love really does win.

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