Category: cultural identity

How to read a city through its culture

“Culture comes from identity, and is a symbolic expression, which should be flowing from it.”

The Idol of Culture Itself:

If you look at culture itself as the symbolic life of a city or nation, then, as with an individual it needs to be attached and in a dynamic relationship with its core identity. When it is not, it can become a detached icon, or worse, worshiped as an idol. Often cities, which become tourist destinations have this happen, where, what once was a dynamic living creative life, flowing out from her core identity, has become a dead detached icon or an idol. This also happens with images from the past, which once were a true and dynamic cultural expression like the cowboy image in the American West, become calcified into the Marlborough man image made popular in movies or on cigarette packs. (more…)

Where art thou?

Where’s your art at? What level of maturation. How integrated is it with the rest of your life. We are meant to be becoming one expression. To integrate all parts of ourselves is motivated by wanting to become the full expression God intended us to be. Art brings life to the other aspects of who we are. And those aspects help ground our symbolic lives, keeping them teethered to our core identity.

Jesus wants to be at the core of ourselves, cultivating each part into maturity. The art part is the aspect which symbolizes and expresses core identity. If detached or blocked, it can start attaching to things outside of self, and even become possessed by random spirits. There is no dimension where Jesus is not present. This means we are free to roam into dreamland, into creativity, into imagination and still remain grounded in Him and have intimacy there.

People and cities, and nations have creative lives. Cultural expressions are collective symbols of the core identity of a place or people.This life is at various stages of maturation. Some cities have very underdeveloped creative lives. Other’s are detached and no longer expressing the true identity of that city.

To unblock and nurture our creative lives is to be part of mending ourselves and our cities. It is to be caught up in God’s restorational work. Behold, God is one, and He is making us one as well. Bringing “home” our creativity and integrating it with other aspects of our lives is part of this restorational process. It is then part of His Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. So where’s your art at?

Often artist have a developed symbolizer, but it is not integrated with other aspects of their lives. Often “non-artist” have a blocked or immature creative life. Often from voices of judgement, or not being validated or encouraged to develop their creativity.

Either way, Jesus comes into the center of our lives and beckons all the aspects of who we are us back home! He draws us into His Creativity and cultivates and matures our imaginations. He wants to shepard each aspect of who we are and grow each part into His fullest expression. We are allowing Him to convert the entire self, when we come to Him, and if there are aspects which He is not allowed to touch, we block His conversion process within us.

He wants to dialogue with our imaginations, our physical bodies as well as our thought life. He wants to reattach symbols and ideas, images and thoughts. He wants to make us one for His own enjoyment, and ours! May we become His poems pronounced clearly and ecstatically into His Universe!

Arts and Education

Artist tend to get solipsistic if not connected to thinkers or education. They need a context for their creative processes. Cistern gazing (getting lost in one’s own process) or over insularity are central shadows in most arts communites I’ve lived in. This is why i think historically, artists have hung out with thinkers. The two are meant to occupy the same cafe.

The teacher and the role of priest or prophet go together. In Jesus you see both aspects. Clear thinking is essential for artists to be near, so that they do not turn their process in on themselves or towards some form of hedonism. Celebrity is not a high enough goal. Artists want to express something meaningful–even the zeitgeist of their time.

Having worked with the arts for many years, i see several reasons for a need for clear exchange between arts and education. One is that educational institutions tend to have resources to held nurture and birth creative projects. Another is that education needs the life and innovation artist bring. There is also a spiritual dimension which artist should carry which is desperately lacking at most educational settings.


The releasing of the Bible in Czech Republic

Sometimes both space and time foreground a God-event. Such was the case in Czech Republic last week, where I attended and performed in the launching of our friend Sasa Flek’s translation of the bible. This is the first modern translation since the nation was under communism. It was a sixteen year labour, and is a gift for all of Europe. Many ambassadors and leaders from various nations attended the launch, which was an artistic and cultural restorational event.

The launch happened in Jan Hus chapel, where Hus originally preached the seeds of the reformation for which he was intensely persecuted. He had a dream that one day he would return and see the painting of the gospel stories on the walls restored by artists! On this day, last week, that dream started to come true!


Sohne Mannheims

Derek and I first heard this singer, Xavier Naidoo, in Berlin about 5 years ago. He’s German and most of his songs are in German, but in spite of the language gap there’s something about his music that we really dig. Something spiritual and soulful. It’s hard to find the records here but I imported them all from Amazon. He had one sort of hit here in the U.S. with a song called Ich Kenne Nichts with RZA (Wu-Tang Clan fame). He has a band now called Sohne Mannheim.

Anyhow, check it out–I think it’s worth a listen. It’s classy music (never thought I’d call music “classy” but hey, it works)–some soul, some hip-hop, some pop, some reggae. I think he’s got something to say.

a word for NYC and America

I tend to have dull spiritual senses when it comes to interpreting the world around me, how every leaf and animal and earthly thing is connecting to something spiritual. The natural and the spiritual are not disconnected, but our vision of them is. Among other tribes, the Celts, the Native Americans and the pre-Greek Hebrews were famously observant of their world as daily interactions with the supernatural. They understood earthly symbols as being on a direct continuum with higher things. There was no Greek division between the higher regions of symbols and their material counterparts. And eventually humankind is going to reclaim that Celtic experience, a full restoration of the world of the symbolic.

In the meantime, there are some events which are so charged with symbolism they are hard to ignore. For example, the whale that floated into the Thames of London last year, was a massive symbol for London. But I don’t go into that here. Yesterday the star pitcher of the New York Yankees crashed his plane into a Manhattan building. Pictures of two high-rise buildings, one on fire, are circulating around the news, eerily bringing back the unforgettable symbols of 9/11. While this is genuinely a horrific event, affecting a family and friends, and God grieves the smallest life, there is also simultaneously a symbol and a message that we shouldn’t miss. Even in deaths, God uses many things to warn, instruct, encourage and speak of greater promises…

The word that I am getting from this is not only for New York but the nation. The times of man’s leadership from his own efforts are coming to an end. Cory Lidle was the star pitcher of the most famous baseball team in America. The pitcher has arguably the most influence over a game. He supervises the whole field, makes important calls without the rest of the team, and must know the style of each player that comes up to bat, so that he can throw the right pitches. He represents the best strengths in leadership.

It’s important to note that Lidle’s son is 6, which is the number of man, the day on which man was created. Even among the best of America’s stars, all of our hopes and dreams politically and spiritually (no matter what side of the political fence we are on), leadership has fathered and brought forth only the best in human ideas. And as great as that can be in our own minds, this time is coming to its end.

In fact, the apex of human leadership no longer knows how to drive the plane. I am not speaking here of our current government, but all those who aspire to leadership in this time, both in government and the church. It’s also significant that America is going into a major election period in which many are raising their banners for or against the war, and it will surely be an influential election. But God himself is saying, man’s best intentions, the time of man’s leadership, is ending.

And America is about to enter a new stage where she begins to rely on the wisdom of the Creator. The number 7 is not only the number of rest, but it also of completion and oneness with God.

for America

Lidle circled the Statue of Liberty before crashing into the building in Manhattan. This too is symbolic for America. Those who are still hopeful for the War in Iraq know that deep down inside what America really wants is liberty for nations, even if she screwed up how to do it, and even though her motivations have been challenged and judged and falsely interpreted. However, even as we have used liberty as our banner for the nations, but we have worshiped freedom itself without worshiping the Creator of Freedom. We are entering a time when America will more than ever not be thanked for the abundance of resources she pours out on the world, and she needs to be changed internally in order to live our her destiny as freedom-bringer without defending herself.

I say changed internally, because this plane crash was an internal one, coming from internal leadership, rather than an external one as 9/11 was. This crash is prophetic of America’s own divisions and false strivings driving her own plane into her own buildings. Beginning with the New Orleans disaster, God has been emphasizing to America that it is time to treat her internal wounds or she will be crippled by the fact that her arms are so constantly extended out into the world.

God does not judge America as the world judges her. He loves her and treats her as a precious diamond. She is so young, but he loves to get up in the morning and hear all the silly ways she thinks up to thank him. In the American church, he loves all the fresh worship and vision and our constant joy and youthful freedom. He loves this! But she needs a season of wisdom.

New York

New York is going to be a beacon of spiritual change. There is some fat hope for New York, which is under a seasonal leadership shift, but God is going to establish spiritual and political leaders who are tuned into His thoughts and ways.

New York, and America, has repeatedly forgotten the message of 9/11, and he does not want her to forget. But he also wants her to remember without moving forward in fear. The “pride of New York” is about to change, and its pride will be in new “stars”. What is attempting to change New York or use New York as its platform will be shifted as God is no longer going to let human plans and thoughts be the vision of New York City, but his vision–to let her be a beacon once again of light and hope to the world.

The building didn’t fall

The building didn’t crumble as it did during 9/11. God is not judging America as the world judges her, and he is not destroying her institutions, and he is going to build a new leadership that does not crush the old leadership. This is a word for the government too! God is not going to crush the current government and establish a new one. The leadership to come will have different emphases but they will be ones who are tuned into the internal state of America and who will build on previous foundations rather than tear them down. We must hear this word, as the elections and all the accusations begin to swirl in our news. (Hear this too, England!)

God is saying, do not listen to the voice of the accuser. There has been a demonic unleashing of the spirit of accusation in world governments in the last two months. The “accuser of the brethren” as mentioned in scripture stakes its authority on the crushing of all other authorities. It has nothing but judgment in its mouth, and actually hates all human authority because it hates mankind. So even those who win by the power of the accuser will eventually be humiliated by its self-hatred, and I pray for all leaders that they are spared from humiliation. It is a shameful state of politics and seems to be boiling now more than ever that leaders must use their platforms to bash their opponents. And it is also a sign what happens when human leadership reaches its apex: even the best of our ideas necessarily get desperate because we are no longer able to do things in our own strength! In fact this is now the primary way that leaders build their platforms–as an “I’m not this, I’m not that!” In the midst of this swirl, only God knows the hearts of men, and He will take note of those who withhold their tongues. They will not be obvious but the men and women who resist accusing their opposition in every political party will be honored by the Lord.

God first is going to change our nation, and we must be prepared for this. He knows the plans he has for her, not to harm her but to prosper her, and she is no longer able to drive her nation with even her best. This is good news! It is time we listen to him, to what he is saying for our government. What we have in mind may be very different than what he has in mind–so we should not be led by even our brightest stars or our brightest ideas. We should not be led by reaction, or by our human judgments of the current leaders. All of our political philosophies and social reforms and best ideas are really good but not always God’s. Let God shake us and surprise us–let Him lead! Let it blow our minds and be hopeful!

a prayer and word for russia

I thought about blogging this, but then on second thought I don’t often blog about immediate needs for prayer. However, here I go. This is for anyone who might feel the need to pray for Russia.

I had the strangest experience today. Yesterday I had read briefly about the Russian airplane which crashed and killed all passengers. All I read was the headline; I didn’t know more details. Then last night I had a dream where an intense cloud, a storm, surrounded this Russian airplane as it flew in the sky and crushed it. Lightning struck.

When I looked at the news again today, I wasn’t even thinking about the plane, had forgotten about my dream until I saw the headlines: storm had caused the crash. Possible lightning striking. Then the dream came flooding back to me. I remembered that when I saw the storm in the dream, it was demonic. There was no doubt about it. The storm was very dark and very oppressive and had an intent. The people on the plane could not see through it. it sought to trap this plane and crush it in the middle of the sky.

I am not sure why I dreamed this or why He drew my attention to it. I confess that I don’t often pray for Russia, or have felt led to. I did feel an intense sadness–around the passengers, their families and also for Russia. I felt weeping, many many people weeping. I looked again at the news and could see that no one yet knows totally the cause.

I feel God’s intense sadness over them and His anger at the enemy for stealing life. Also I pray that he would not stir up conspiracy theories, an attempt to blame someone for this. The enemy would like to misinterpret this. Pray that truth would come, and mercy and grace to cover the minds and hearts of the victims’ families. I pray that he releases his mighty truth into the heart of Russia. There were many children killed on this plane, and I hear him saying that “the thief will have to pay back 7 times the life he stole from these people”.

This plane is a symbol of what the thief has stolen from Russia. He has stolen their children and stolen them violently when they have been the most vulnerable. Does this mean a generation? Or years from their lives? Whatever he stole from their life as a nation will be repaid and repaid 7 times over.

England again

A bit more to add to Derek’s post earlier today–

A few years ago while we were in Paris we met a man from Kenya who was working as a bellhop in our hotel. Within minutes of walking with him he told us his story of how he had only been in France for a short while and this was the best way he could support his family. He also talked about Jesus a lot, and by the time he left us he had prayed with us. It was a very powerful moment as it was the first time I had felt hope in Paris. God had been showing us for some time that he was going to send Africans into Europe, without the guilt of colonialism, to thank Europe and tell the nations that they had indeed brought the gospel to them.

A short time after He showed us this, *Time Magazine* came out with a cover story about the rise of African missions into Europe and America. It documented the growing native African churches in New York City–many of which had raised money in their home land specifically to take the gospel back to America. It also documented the African pastors and churches in London, one of whom specifically said he was called as “a prophet to thank England for bringing Africans the gospel.”

So we were very excited to read about the new appointment of this Ugandan minister to the post of Archbishop of York. Some quotes from the archbishop this weekend:

>Dr. Sentamu, Archbishop of York“I speak as a foreigner really. The English are somehow embarrassed about some of the good things they have done. They have done some terrible things but not all the Empire was a bad idea. Because the Empire has gone, there is almost the sense in which there is not a big idea that drives this nation.”

>…He described English culture as rooted in Christianity and, in spite of attempts by secularists to marginalise it, the Church still had a central role to play. “I think the Church in many ways has to be like a midwife, bringing to birth possibilities of what is authentically very good in the English mind.”

>”I come from a clan called the Buffalo clan. Its responsibilities are to be the guardians and protectors of the king. Sentamu means *the one who keeps the king’s fire burning*. If I had not gone to university I would be outside the palace stoking the fire. That would have been my job, stoking the fire. I just hope with Rowan [Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury] I will be stoking the fire.”

–from an [article today in *The Times*](,,2-1882591,00.html).

In another interview:

>(The archibishop) Sentamu imitates the average English vicar praising God with an unenthusiastic allelujah to a near empty church. Then he gives *his* version, thumping the table and crying allelujah to the skies. The miserable, ancient cottage at Lambeth Palace where we are talking, with its false ceiling, laminate doors, storage freezers and cold white lights, *suddenly feels an awful lot hotter, a bit more Africa than England*.

>I tell the archbishop this and he looks momentarily shocked. “I was raised an Anglican on [the Book of Common Prayer],” he says. “The gospel I got in my country was so good. *I am simply telling the English, it is my job now, to simply remind you of what you taught me.*”

–[from another *Times* article](,,2-1882589,00.html).

While not just speaking about the church, Sentamu had a lot to say on the subject of english culture–how the English should be proud of their culture (even what has been perceived as the majority culture). I also think the speaks very honestly about how England is not a multi-cultural nation–it has more of a singular identity than America, which is more of a melting pot. Part of how he described England was more like a father, welcoming those of other backgrounds under its covering but without losing its essential “englishness”. It’s also very interesting that an African is saying this. I know this is a hot subject for Europeans, but England really is a father, and a KING in the spirit as well.

I love England, I think my english friends are the coolest.

Vision for New Orleans

I saw Jesus with a construction hat on gathering men, then locking arms and walking towards New Orleans in a straight line. On the backs of the people’s jackets were names of church denominations. In Unity with arms bound. They were walking like a wall in a line, side by side. I got the word “flat liners”, and immediately realized that these were salty folks, or workers–like flat footed. This is to combat the spirits there which are wispy and foggy. These men were like sturdy bridges, and would not be turned back. They were coming in a support line from Texas.

I saw Jesus motion for support in two directions–one Texas, and the other the other southern states. So that two clear lines of support were coming into New Orleans–both coming in lines not to encircle but to wall. For I then saw a circle of witches praying over the ashes of the city to keep them death stinchy. And I saw how these two lines of solidity would combat that circle. It was as if the circle of evil were praying to keep death adn cunfusion on the city, but God was bringing in clear lines of clarifying support.

I then felt the need to pray for real clarity to be released over the minds of all leader dealing with this event-as there is so much confusion and witchcraft hovering over it.

I felt that New Orleans would be given a New Order (N.O.) I then saw the angelic darting into the dark water, which I heard were very cursed and deathy. The waters themselves were so murky and pestilent that people could not cleanse them. I felt that only true worship could clarify these waters, and that the church was being asked to worship in order to cleanse the waters of this region.

Unification is needed to overcome. I saw three main lines of fiscal support in terms of management–the Federal Government; the Red Cross; and The Church.

In short, the wispy murky spiritual environment would be met by the solidity of His People, and their prayers. I felt the need for saltiness or groundedness in combating the spiritual clime over new Orleans. It is witchcraft mainly, but a very dark and cloudy version. I has a mixture of Vodoo (which has cast spells on the waters there) as well, and death and blood.

I felt that the waters would be clarified by worship as I said, but also I saw coming up from the waters a purple heart. I felt this had to do with the future of the city, and something available to those who would spiritually serve there–either in prayer or physically.

The Texas church was enabled to lock arms and head down as one long strong line! The two primary lines of support came from texas and the other from the other southern states to the east of the city.

At the end of this vision, I kept hearing Jesus yelling out things He needs: 3 construction crews to repair roads all the way down to the city; all sort of tools; pliers, gaskets, machines, bags, trucks etc Very practical needs!

I also felt a great harvest will be brought out of this event. That the fields are ready for true life to come in and bring fruit that will last.



Clarity for all leaders involved

God would raise up real worship to purify the waters there

Unification between denominations so we can work as one church Body (The Body of Christ!)

That the dark spiritual environment would not confuse the labourers, so they can bring help with great clarity and compassion. (We have seen the confusion around many of the media there, and others who have gone into the spiritual atmosphere that is there)

That the hope that this event will actually bring great and needed change in America at large and that His Body might take up its leadership role in aiding this tragedy.

That our president would have great clarity around how to release help, and for his spiritual protection.

That the New Orleans mayor would have peace in his heart and head as he has seen and felt so much suffering over the past week.

As well as for mayors and leaders in the states effected most by this event.

Already, most of the churches here have opened their doors and are receiving refuges. In our neighborhood, the largest church nearby is said to be receiving 1500 people this week. Pray that the church would lead in showing the heart of Christ in this dark part of this event. In Houston, several megachurches are opening their facilities to refuges, and are also opening homes and resources. This is an hour of great potential unification in the Body here in America!

We also see the issues of materialism and racism are being addressed and brought into the light through this tragedy. Pray that we have the guts to deal with both of these as the church, and then as a nation!