The book of Mark opens not with Jesus, but with John the Baptist. John was one who heralded the coming of something new. John himself declared this not from the center of Judaic power, but from the wilderness. Beginning with the witness of John the Baptist, the gospel of Mark leads us into the frenetic and powerful ministry of Jesus, into the wondrous and unmistakable presence of a man who seemingly came out of nowhere, and could simply not be ignored.
From June to December, Professor of Art, Roger Feldman and I (Brian Bantum, Professor of Theology) with five students (Esther Cho, Kaelyn Handsel, Mandy Hough, Tracey Ige, and Lara Musser) ventured into this world of Mark with the aim of encountering the Christ of Mark as well as to express that encounter to the community of Seattle Pacific University. The culmination of this process, an art installation entitled, “Paradigm Shift“ now sits in the middle of Martin Square.
What will follow in the coming weeks is a series of reflections about the installation by those of us who participated in its creation, from reflecting on the book of Mark, to prayerfully sharing themes, conceiving shapes, and thinking about what it means to “stand” inside the gospel of Mark. In these posts it is not our intention to give “the meaning” of the installation. While the installation certainly represents certain ideas that we, as a group struggled with in our communal readings, we are also struck by a troubling and incredible reality. We are all continuing to learn from this installation as we walk through the space, look at it from different vantage points, and see it in varying light. In doing so, we begin to see both the gospel and the installation in new and surprising ways. Perhaps most disconcerting as well as miraculous, the installation is now speaking without us and to us as the people who built it.
It is our hope that the community might be drawn into this process of reflection, that we might learn from what you see and that we might all gain better insight into the God that Mark witnesses to in those blessed pages. Above all, we hope that the installation stands as an invitation. It is an invitation into an encounter, it is an invitation into the wonder that Mark attests to, that God became flesh.
Next week: “What is this thing?”