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Truth through juxtaposition

I have written on this  blog before about the birth of pointilism. Drawing on the insights of Royal Tapestry Maker Michel Chevreul, pointilists recognised that more intense colours were rendered in the brain by juxtaposing dots of pure colour, instead of mixing colurs on a palette or in a vat of dye.  In the same way as pointilist paintings can create canvasses which sizzle with light and vitality, so the juxtaposition of apparently unrelated ideas can bring startling new insight. At this process, Twitter excels.

Earlier this morning Justin Flitter, a friend in New Zealand, pointed me to the work of Neal Stephenson, a writer in America. In his article, Innovation Starvation, Stephenson makes some troubling observations about how caution has stunted the growth of ideas, and how the death of ‘traditional’ science fiction has reduced the flow of innovation.  Technological setbacks such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 have also bred a culture of fear rather than courage when it comes to the creative implementation of technologies. The augers ill for the human race:

The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a grand scale no longer seems like the childish preocupation of a few nerds with slide rules. It is the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicament. Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it.

Just as I was  digesting that particular thought, the following tweet popped up on my computer screen from the Director of the Theos think tank:

How right she is! The Bible is indeed a book of ideas. It has crazy ideas in it such as replacing vengeance with forgiveness. It has unpalatable ideas in it like loving our enemies. Look too carefully at the Book of Acts, and you will see deeply impractical ideas such as holding our property in common.  Have we, like the nerds with slide rules in Stephenson’s paper, lived with these ideas so long that we have negotiated a truce with them? We don’t trouble them and they don’t trouble us. If we have, then both church and world are undoubtedly poorer because of it.

Twitter has taken me on a journey from doughnut-shaped space stations to the King James Bible via America and New Zealand this morning – and I am grateful.

Image: seankreynolds.com

Decentralized impact

This morning I have been ‘tuning into’ a conversation about digital discipleship. There is a feeling from some that many individual Christians are ‘plugging away’ at this in the background whilst it is the bigger outfits which receive the limelight. Whilst this may indeed be true, I am left wondering how much it matters. Two illustrations of this come to mind.

Millions of internet users today will plug into the services of the mighty Google. Few will think what is going on ‘under the bonnet’ as they perform their searches. And yet, the truth is that Google is not powered by some vast supercomputer the size of  a small city, but by upwards of one million individual servers no bigger than the one you may be using just now. The genius lies not in the size of the computers, but the way they link together.

Regular readers of this blog will know my fascination with Michel Chevreul and his insights on the combination of pure colours to make an intense polychromatic whole. Bravia’s stunning paint advert has featured on here before for that very reason. Below is a lesser known Bravia commercial, where the Great Pyramid at Giza is seen covered by ordinary, tiny reels of cotton – to dramatic effect.

Today I pay tribute to the thousands of Christian bloggers and tweeters out there who are contributing to the polychromatic presence of Christ online. I draw your attention to Peter’s description of our duty to “faithfully minister the Grace of God in its various forms” (1 Peter 4 v.10) the words in italics are just one word in the Greek, meaning “rainbow coloured”.

Time to get painting…

Richard Littledale

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