interview: Callid Keefe-Perry [2 of 2]
[the following is part two of Callid Keefe-Perry's interview about his new film "Made As Makers." you can read part one here. if you believe in the vision of the movie, please circulate these materials around your religious community! the film is free, accessible, and a great tool for starting discussion about faith, imagination, and making art.]
in your mind, what aspects of creativity most effectively bring the Kingdom of God into our reality–what do you do to make this Kingdom revealed in your own life?
I don’t actually think about it this way. I mean, the way the question is asked is a very normal way of asking things: Which kinds of X are good at getting us to Y? This seems upside-down when thinking about how God (and how God’s / kairos time) works. Things do not map as nicely into assumptions of causality… So… What I’d say is that I trust that God is calling us all, all of the time, into faithfulness and renewal. Rather than suggesting that there is a certain aspect of creativity or artistry that is more effective at supporting Kingdom living, I would have it go the other way around: what in your life – and the life of your community – is feeding you, supporting ministry, and deepening your connection with God, others, and Creation? Whatever those things are, explore them more. See what other ways they could be done. Become as children and play with them.
I don’t think that God wants us to live our lives from a rote instruction manual. That is, we are called to cultivate the fruits of the spirit, but the details of each day and they way we plant those seeds of love and goodness and peace are up to us. God will help each grow and come to ripeness, but rows of the orchard are for use to plant, and some might not need to be planted in rows at all.
in “Made as Makers” you asked each person you interviewed to respond to the same three prompts. i was thinking it would be good for you to respond as well. so… tell us about God. tell us about faith. and tell us about your hope for the Church.
Great! And let me just preface this by saying one of my biggest pet peeves is when folks say (of matters of God and faith) “Oh… it is just too big/powerful/wonderful/awe-inspiring to put words to. They’re not ever going to be sufficient.” On the one hand I want to say “Well duh! Of course words are not sufficient.” On the the other though, I want to question why words aren’t sufficient. Because they don’t capture the entirety of God? Well good! If words could do that then our faith would just be a God-capturing kind of magic, not a robust trust in things hoped for but as yet unseen. I write words and answer huge questions like these because my words are insufficient and require something more to be complete. Because my answers will prompt you to answer as well. Because we can only but raise up the voices we have and those voices are cracked, human, and lacking. And full of joy, longing, and hope.
I’ll answer all three in one fell swoop: a brief bit of thick prose and then beneath that a poem I wrote for Pentecost in 2010:
When I think about talking about God outside of poetic speech I think over and over again of a quote from Quaker Minister Patrick Nugent: Whenever goodness radiates and transforms the heart, whenever the conscience rises up and stands in the revealing and liberating light of goodness, there, whether named or not, is the Bread of Life which never fades away, the redeeming presence of the risen and living Christ. That just about says it for me, which means that faith is trusting in the possibility of that transformation, of revelation and the liberating power of God, even if our present days are sometimes full of darkness. That leaves my hope for the church as a prayer that it becomes ever more like the Kingdom of God in which none are hungry or downtrodden, and each comes into relationship with God directly.
My God is in the next room,
cooking unseen feasts
moments of ache before rain
when the whole June cloud
is ready to burst through
though no drop has yet fallen;
dandelion blades that insist
adamantly they must reside directly
in the middle of your neighbor’s
blacktopped suburban driveway;
sights of the shadow of a bird flitting
by the sill near the bed of an aging Grace,
who can no longer move but counts herself
lucky because at least she can still see.
This is my God:
expectant and grinning
wild and near.
Callid Keefe-Perry is an Educator, Artist, and Community Builder. He is the founder and managing partner of an improvised comedy troupe and theater in Rochester NY, consults on the use of the Arts in classrooms, coordinates the non-profit arts organization, The Transformative Language Arts Network, and writes/researches on the use of language to shift (religious) experience. He maintains both TheImageOfFish.com and Theopoetics.net for people interested in his theological blah-blah.