As we think about the coming season of Advent, I’ve been mulling about the process by which ‘newness’ comes about.
I was talking with two Vaux accomplices on Sunday, who are both doing post-graduate studies variously around ideas of space. Both were commenting on the varied backgrounds of the people they were studying with, and how this led to interesting cross-fertilization, particularly where two different fields of study were using common language in uncommon ways.
I was reminded of the work of the Santa Fe institute, which deliberately puts people from different academic disciplines together to consider problems, particularly around ideas of complexity. Physicists might talk about self-organising phenomena, which economists, biologists and computer scientists might throw different perspectives from their observations into the mix… which in turn might lead to the physicists discovering something totally new.
Crossing boundaries can feel dirty. It’s Trickster territory. ‘It’s not pure theology.’ ‘You can’t mix those.’ But it’s precisely in the cross-contamination that newness appears. I touched on this in a previous post and pondered whether we might see Adam and Eve as the ‘first artists’… And as we come to another advent we begin to reflect on a God who was not content to remain inert, sterile, pure… But crossed our boundary, re-synthesized the divine and human, and wrought a newness for us.
The second edge of advent’s perforating sword is that we are called to be the body of Christ. To continue to take this archetype of boundary-crossing-reaping-newness and… get out there to discover some new territory between the lands we thought were islands. Which is precisely what those two are doing. And I for one can’t wait to see what they find.