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Nov 5, 2012

Religion: Acknowledging Relationship

Whether we admit it or not we are imbedded in a greater context. We are free to choose, including the choice to ignore reality, but that doesn't change the fact that each of us is a part of it. Religion is the acknowledgement of a relationship.

This comes to mind in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. If ours were a religious culture huge events like this would have a greater impact on us because religious people have something that secular people don't: a mythic life. Science may not be a religion but we would be better off if we treated it like one– a faith with a creed and a god who looks after us like a parent and tries to warn us when we stray.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy I wonder if we can't get a glimps of how a science-focused culture like ours is at a disadvantage.

There is a mythical meaning to some huge natural event like Sandy but of course we will ignore it, believing that myth is passe. Our is the first culture in history to not embrace a religion. I don't think that enforcing religion is a good thing, but what if we thought of our science-centeredness as a real religion? Our God of Science has been trying to gently remind us that we are a part of nature and we cannot escape the responsibility we have to it. This god's warnings have been increasing in intensity and yet we believers choose to ignore them. One could even say that this god will cast us into hell if we do not heed the warnings. Because we don't believe in the God of Science, we think we can run from the responsibility but that is simply not true. If we treated our faith as a religion we would not miss the mythical meaning of the hurricane; in fact any disaster. Instead when the hurricane hit we would be seized with fear (in what some would call a "primitive" way) and the population would spring into action to mitigate our angry god by making sacrifices. That sounds like a very intelligent recipe for survival to me.

Whether you think of this as "religion" there is a real mythical truth here that we ignore at our peril. I am afraid that what "secular" means is that we give ourselves permission to ignore the context in which we live, by refusing to acknowledge we are in relationship with something bigger than ourselves. That's the kind of thinking that will get us killed as extreme weather events increase. Used in this sense, human survival will depend on our becoming more religious.
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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.