Monday, December 07, 2009

Ikon ADVENTure - Saint Nicholas - Conspiracy

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Last night’s Ikon gathering in the Black Box CafĂ© felt surprisingly middle of the road for an anarchic transformance art collective whose strapline includes “iconic, apocalyptic, heretical, emerging, failing”.

In the second week of advent, and on Saint Nicholas Day, it was appropriate that Ikon staged an ADVENTure. Maybe being momentarily mainstream was the challenge, or maybe I’m imagining that the majority of society – or a significant minority – would like to turn the Christmas season on its head and reform it completely?

It was obvious that enormous effort and thought had gone into the preparation of the contributions throughout the evening. Interesting to hear more about the background to Saint Nicholas with the normal tangential tinsel trappings removed.

Jonny McEwan’s reflection particularly struck me, and I include it below. I loved the way that various unhelpful aspects of Christmas rituals could still “remind” Jonny of biblical themes and stories.

‘The feast of xmas on December the twenty somethingth ... is filled with ritual that take us to the heart of our spiritual journeys.

It starts with a miracle ... as children who normally can’t be woken on a school morning jump out of bed as early as they are allowed.

As children unwrap presents, parents think about their debt to the banks and are reminded of how great our Debt is to our heavenly banker.

As we gather round the dying tree decorated with colourful lights and plastic tinsel ... we are reminded, not only of our thinly veiled paganism, but also of Jesus’s words in Matthew 6 “I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.”

When we unwrap what are sometimes inappropriate, unwanted or useless presents ... We wish we were more like Paul who knew “the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

And when we split into our traditional roles, where the woman busies herself in the kitchen while the man, plays with the children’s toys or tries to work out how to use a new gadget … we think of the story of Mary and Martha ...

As we begin to overeat our xmas dinner ... we remember the loaves and fishes and wonder how many thousands Jesus could have fed with this turkey!

As gathered families start to quarrel ... we often echo Christ’s words ... “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”

Some one will fall Lazarus-like asleep in front of the TV. And others will drink until they forget what they were trying to forget, and in doing so remember that we are remembered by God.’

Suffering from a projector failure, the Advent Conspiracy video wasn’t shown and was pushed into the homework diary instead.

The Mockingbird’s Leap group blog ran during Advent 2007 and 2008, but hasn’t been resurrected this year. It provided a set of near-daily reflections on the season of waiting and anticipation. But again, maybe critiquing winterval has become a more mainstream preoccupation.

As a long-term Christmas curmudgeon, there’s always one moment in the season that feels real and genuinely worth celebrating. In previous years it’s been a workplace carol service that combined Santa hats and gusty singing with a sense of faith and season that I’ve not experienced elsewhere. Last night’s Ikon is currently top of this year’s chart for the seasonal highlight, and I’m not expecting anything to knock it off the number one spot. Maybe I’ll be wrong.

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