For Your Consideration (02/22/17)

Friday’s post involved an avalanche illustration, and I couldn’t help feeling a pang of sorrow about the death of skier JP Auclair in September of 2014 in an avalanche. He was skiing for a shoot in Chile when it happened.

It’s not that I knew Auclair, but the above video of him skiing through streets Trail, BC (from All.I.Can) is only one the most enthralling and inspiring things I’ve ever watched.

The cinematography, the music (LCD Soundsystem) and the skiing—the skiing!—make for a spellbinding piece of film.

There was a phase of my life when I would watch this often. When I think of the power and purpose of art in human living, I can at least attest to its power to inspire; to “give breath.”

I would watch this and think, “Is there anything I want to do this beautifully? What would it take to make that happen?”

And so I was saddened when I learned of his untimely death.But this gift he gave us deserves to live on. (I would recommend starting it from the beginning, full-screening  and putting on headphones in order to absorb it fully!)

It’ll take you almost 5 minutes (unless you watch it over and over again).

CHANCE THE RAPPER (IN GENERAL)

Back in 2013, Kendrick Lamar performed on the UIC campus. The opening act was a 20-year-old newcomer: Chance the Rapper. That was when I first took notice of Chance.

On Monday night Chance won 3 Grammy Awards (including Best New Artist). He has reached unheard-of heights for an independent (unsigned) artist of his age (“Kanye’s best prodigy / He ain’t signed me but he proud of me”).

With regard to the idea of meta, Chance is one of those artists who seems to have a brilliance and poise beyond his age; nearly astoundingly so. I know his connection to the Christian meta narrative is what endows him with this magnificent quality. Not since Johnny Cash has someone so naturally and unapologetically woven a Christian view of the world into genuinely compelling music (OK, it’s a tie with Sufjan Stevens.)

I don’t make songs for free, I make ’em for freedom
Don’t believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom 

Firstly, I find myself just wanting to expose more people to him, or, if nothing else, celebrate his artistry and voice. He’s the best product of Chicago in recent memory—and a bright spot in our city.

They say I’m savin’ my city, say I’m stayin’ for good
They screamin’, “Chano for mayor,” I’m thinkin’ maybe I should

Chance’s cultural dexterity reached apotheosis one day after his historic Grammy haul when the Chicago-antagonistic Illinois governor Bruce Rauner sought to make political hay on Chance’s sun shine. He tweeted,

7 minutes (7 MINUTES!) later Chance responded,

Even writing this down, I am almost dumbfounded. Like I said, brilliant.

It’s reminiscent of Prince; e.g. changing his name to a symbol to sidestep his Warner Bros contract obligations, or  telling Tavis Smiley on BET that he can’t be played. (“Well… I can’t be played. A person trying to play me plays themselves.” See the 25 min. mark of the video I’ve linked.)

It’s just a pleasure to enjoy Chance’s moment, and to watch him glide along in life and art.

Watch his Christmas performance of Finish Line on Saturday Night Live, and be charmed by the ease with which he does what he does.

It’ll take you about 5 minutes.

If you are reading this on your phone, take another 6 minutes and watch his How Great “screen lock video”. It’s the type of innovative creation that an artist like Chance revels in the license to execute. (Lock that screen!)

TRUMP AS A DIVIDING LINE AMONG CHRISTIANS (EMMA GREEN IN THE ATLANTIC)

Emma Green covers religion for the Atlantic Monthly, and has turned a fairly astute eye to the evangelical shake-up in Trump era America.

In this troubling piece, she recounts several examples of how Christian non-profit workers and missionaries have come under fire for speaking against Trump or speaking for certain social issues. It strikes me that Green really does identify a fault line in the church. When those who work with ethnic minorities, the urban poor or refuges use their voice to advocate on their behalf, should they risk losing support or even employment?

She writes:

Donald Trump has divided conservative Christian communities. Most white Christians support Trump, or at least voted for him. Some who have spoken out against his presidency or his policies, though, have encountered backlash. For a small group of people working in Christian ministry, music, and nonprofit advocacy, the consequences have been tangible: They’ve faced pressure from their employers, seen funds withdrawn from their mission work, or lost performing gigs because of their political beliefs.

It’s one of those areas where I’m perplexed by how the meta of politics would be prioritized over the meta of the kingdom for Christians; where an unwillingness to understand unfamiliar contexts or even trust those working within them would preclude a willingness to stand with one-another in solidarity.

Isn’t it unnerving to realize it has become conspicuous to the world around us?

Living and working in Chicago for the past few years has thrown this into stark relief for me. I’m far less perplexed by the fact that different groups interpret things in drastically different ways based on their frame of reference than I am by the recalcitrance I’ve seen in Christian’s attitudes toward one-another within the socio-political context.

Jesus said the world would recognize us by our undeterable love for one another, but, sadly, this isn’t what is attracting their attention.

Green’s article is about a 15 minute read for slow readers, like moi. 

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