Meeting God in culture

I first met God in the symbolic realm. He spoke to me in symbols—through birds and dreams, nature and visions; through art, He introduced Himself to me, through the poetry of David, and the parables of Jesus. One’s spiritual DNA starts at the start. How we meet God is often the part of God we end up guiding others to. I am interested in the imaginations of people places and cities and nations. In their collective creativity.

What is the role of the imagination in our relationship to God? How is He making it “one” or whole, even as He is One? If He relates to nations as people, then nation’s have a collective imagination or creativity. I am interested in being with God in His conversing with the imaginations of cities and nations. I want to partner with Him in making them whole or healed or integrated in this area.

In Daniel’s time, king Nebuchanezzer dreamed he was a tree. Nations are like trees. God plants and sows them, brings light and water to them; let’s them mature. Some trees grow as old as one thousand years. There has yet to be a nation grow that old-but there will be!

If a nation is like a tree, what is the creative part of nationhood? What is its symbolic life? If a nation has personhood, which part is her symbolic life? I suggest that culture is the collective symbolic life of a city or nation. So if we are interested in joining God’s conversation with a city’s or nation’s creative life, we are joining His conversation with their arts and culture. This is our motivation—to know the God of the imagination, and how He is helping heal both the individual and collective imagination of His planet.

Nations were in the garden (Isaiah and Ezekiel wrote of this); so the idea of nations were pre-fall. Our ideas of nationalism are much more recent; but God had this concept in Him when He made His garden. They are referred to as trees in the garden. For more on this look at Pieter Bos great article on “Nations as trees” on his site—Serving the Nations–SERVING THE NATIONS.

My point here is that trees or nations have a symbolic creative life. And that God is conversing symbolically with each person, city and nation. On the citywide and nation level, He is making the imaginative or cultural part, One or integrated, even as He is integrated.

With cultures, you have various levels of health or wholeness. Some cultures are dead or split off from core identity and no longer expressing the core content (or reflection of God) that that particular city or nation or people group was meant to reflect of God. You see then that culture can become an idol if detached in this way. Cullure and the creative is meant to flow our from core identity. When it doesn’t it can become dead or detached, and at worst, idolized.

Creativity is meant to bring life to the whole. God’s creativity is dynamic, alive, able to birth new things—creativity is atomic power in the spiritual realm and on earth. Artists highlight the volatility of creativity. Some more explosively than others depending on the range of the radiance of creativity they were given.

We call some artist stars. Makes sense. Each star has a range of radiance, and is meant to be constellated around other stars in order to make patterns, and to keep the whole lit up. The counterfeit would be some of the Hollywood false constellations, but also many other examples of art communities throughout history that did not link properly to form the right patterns—still each artist shone.

The gift of creativity is about energizing and keeping dynamic the whole. But it is also about communication. The symbolic level of Reality itself is a communication about who God is. And this is true on an individual level as well. Our creativity is meant to express and flow out from who we ARE. God is the I Am, and He creates out of that core identity. In the beginning, what was He doing? Creating. It flows out of His Nature, to create. And it should flow out of ours as well.

But this is also true on a city and nations level. The culture of our cities should be attached to and flowing out from their core identities. This is an aspect of His restoration of the earth. He will finish His Perfect Poem, and it is an autobiographical poem about His Own Identity!

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