Making something small happen

art of the everyday

Month: February, 2012

Making something small happen

I am just back from presenting the project in Berlin at the Radius of Art Conference held at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. It was a great experience to be part of speed presentations and to have to talk about the project with clarity in such a small space of time. I have included the slides and presenters notes below. I will be writing more about the actions we facilitated at the conference and the workshops and forums I attended while there.

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Tract 3 day 3 A New Resolution

The weather is not helping my tract giving I can only manage about 45 minutes out in the cold before it gets too much but I did achieve a lot in todays 45 minutes. I was giving out the tracts on Royal Avenue, outside the Gap store and managed to give about 60 away. A guy about my age approached and asked “Do you believe in God?Do you?” and seemed a little confused when I said not, he didn’t either but straight away said “But you must believe in a higher purpose?” I said not I hope that humanity id inherently good and that is my higher purpose but he said he did believe in something higher “That there has to be something better than us out there” I really think most people have hat hope but for me it is that there is something bigger than me, I take comfort in being such a small part in the life of our planet but it is important what we do with this small part.

So what is the small part of art, I do think art has a responsibility to provide a new way of living or thinking in the everyday. There is a parallel for me that art suffers when it is for art’s sake and religion suffers when it is for religion’s sake. I will write more about this over the next few weeks and let you know about a few events I am planning.

A New Resolution Tract 3 Day 2

On the second day I really practised talking about the mission before I went out again to distribute the third tract. I wore my lucky red coat and took my place among charity collectors, club promoters Belfast telegraph sellers and a church mission. There was a silent camaraderie between myself the Church mission and the Charity collectors. The club promoters just seemed annoyed that I was standing where they wanted to stand. I couldn’t help but notice how little time everyone else stood on their spots for.There seemed to be a hierarchy of patience. In in the hour I stood there the Belfast Telegraph sellers where there before and stayed after me, the Charity collector shared about 20 minutes of my time but the club promoters lasted about 10 minutes before leaving.

So the day began similarly to all my days of street evangelism, people look like they will take the tract then realise it’s not a promotional leaflet and put their hand back in their pocket or try to look busy. But today went a little differently after that a man a little past middle age approached me and asked was I Christian I explained that I’m not and that the work was attempting to open a dialogue about how we discuss morality outside of religion and what ownership secular people have of the terminology that is used by religious people in Belfast.  He said “but why aren’t you a Christian, have you never thought about it?” I told him carefully not wanted to be disrespectful that I was a Christian once but that I am not anymore. He then explained that I couldn’t just take it back, that once you gave your life to Jesus he kept it and I shouldn’t turn my back on him. He then asked why I had turned my back on Jesus. Now this is an extremely personal question and also not relevant to the work so I  said ” I had a bad experience” which is half the reason. He was adamant that I consider the experience Jesus went through dying on the cross for sinners and did I not think it was much worse than whatever my experience was? I asked him the one question I had always struggled with as a Christian, in 1 Peter 3:15 it asks that you “always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have” He explained that he knew he would meet God one day and this kept him strong in his belief and that I would have to meet God and explain why I turned away. At this point I felt completely worthless, I cannot explain why I am so affected by religion as an atheist but I suppose the fear I am wrong has been deeply ingrained. I have no answer for the faith I had and for me fear was not enough. I miss the comfort that believing in something higher than you brings but I guess this project is partly about creating a space that has that positive atmosphere for myself. I gave out about 30 tracts after this conversation and several people seemed really interested in the discussion so hopefully I will get some comments on the blog.