Tag Archives: Carolyn Weber

The Shudder of the Miracle: Art as Conversion and Conversation

By Carolyn Weber

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Author Carolyn Weber explores art as Christian expression.

I participated in the David Festival in Port Perry, Ontario this past weekend, teaching a workshop on one of my favourite genres, the spiritual memoir. The David Festival describes itself as “A Celebration of Christian Worship through the Arts.” It is named for David in reference to his aim to praise God through his talents as a regular man, flawed and faithful, who was both shepherd and king. Here is a link to the festival, with a description of its wonderful events.

What is art? Such an age-old question! I think one way of understanding the import and impact of art is as a way of seeing things anew so as to participate in God’s redemptive plan for a broken world. God’s very first act in terms of how we understand our beginnings is the act of creation. As mimetic beings, “mimesis” having its roots in the Greek “to imitate,” we, too, seek to create.

As creatures made in His image, we also seek to make in His image. It is part of our being, an imprint of the divine in us, and integral to our dignity. At any moment, we can choose to create or destroy. This is the devil’s self-imposed prison: that he can only destroy, not create. For even destruction can be redeemed when in God’s hands, and when, by extension, used in the creative imagination of the artist of good faith.

In his Biographia Literaria, the Romantic philosopher, critic and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously identified two levels or faculties in the human imagination – the primary and the secondary – each as an echo of the divine and yet differing in degree:

The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. (Ch. XII)
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The First Christian was a Single Mother: Fear, Favour and Faith

By Carolyn Weber

For most of my childhood, I was raised by a single mom. When I consider my own fortunate position alongside a godly man, I have no1868223HighRes idea how she did it all. I continue to be surrounded by single moms, and remain highly sensitive to their survival situation. I am inspired by their endurance, their love, and their determination to make a better life for their children. Perhaps it has been this firsthand experience, then, that lead to my initial reaction to Mary’s own response to the preface of the Annunciation:

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:26-28).

Then Luke tells us “Mary was greatly troubled at his words …” (Lk 1:29).

I’ll say!

Luke’s detail about Joseph and Mary being merely pledged to marry, and later not consummating their marriage, provides important confirmation of a virgin birth. It is the fulfillment of prophecy along with proof of the miracle of the immaculate conception. It also conveys just what a risk Mary faced, especially in her day and age. Joseph held the right to abandon her: she would have been ostracized from the community at the very least, justifiably killed at worst. We tend to forget this threat in the school pageant re-tellings of the Christmas story.

“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God’” (Lk 1:30).
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God is Such a Show off: The Eagle and the Advent

by Carolyn Weber

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Funny how some of the most momentous things happen when you are doing the most mundane of tasks.1835785LowRes

Where does the line blur between the moment and the momentous? When does one become the other? When does a moment become anointed?

How does it move from the near unconscious smooth assumption that one undertaking will follow another, to the arresting of time, space, thought, breath?

Trauma, impact, accident, cruelty, misfortune, all such things have this effect.

But wonder does too.

And awe.

Awe in that old sense of the word. In its original meaning. In the invocation of both fear and amazement, terror and wonder. Such paradox! This taking of the breath by the same hand that gave it to us. How to find words for this force that gives and takes away, whose ways are mysterious, whose peace surpasses all understanding?

I stand stalk still in the kitchen, a bunch of bananas clutched in one hand, a tinselly bag of Goldfish crackers crinkling in the other. Under my arm is tucked a roll of holly-patterned wrapping paper, since I just ran out last night. My knee cuts against the hard edge of a box of diapers, but I do not move.

Only moments before, I had been unloading groceries from the car – but not just any groceries. Christmas groceries. Groceries intended for parties and school events, for a large family dinner and days upon days of baking. Flour and eggs and baking soda and clinking jars of maraschino cherries. A gigantic frozen turkey, pre-stuffed, thank you very much, rolls off my counter with a bang, just missing the few extra boxes of chocolates I picked up on sale, for those last minute gifts.

I have been immersed in my equivalent of hunting and gathering for my family. I stand there sweating along with my floored turkey. The aisles of Costco and Walmart can be just as treacherous as the plains and forests for those armed with a tight budget.
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The Localization of Grace: Bringing Home God’s Peace

By Carolyn Weber

Each home has its unbelievers and its believers; and thereby a good war is sent to break a bad peace.” St. Jerome’s words remind us that bringing the peace of God to the family table can be anything but, well, peaceful.

Reconciliation with God, and with one another, can run the most difficult in families, perhaps because families are such loaded relational nests. I am convinced this is why Shakespeare, for instance, literally set his timeless plays within family dramas.

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The Challenge of Growth

Click the cover image to read the May/Jun 2014 issue.

Church planting these days usually means breaking up some pretty hard Canadian soil. That’s why we thought it would be fascinating to assign writers in three cities to go behind the scenes in very different church plants to see what makes them tick – or grow.

If you live in eastern Canada, a part of the country where we had a tough time matching an available writer with an existing plant, please write to us and tell us about your church plant experience. We’d love to hear.

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