Friday, Sept 27 | 1:10-2:25 pm

Identity Making 2 | Room 210

Singing with Sophia: The Theological Imagination of Thomas Merton

For Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic Thomas Merton, the answer to the questions of human identity dwell in relationship with the eternal “dance” of divinity in the cosmos.  Brilliantly expressed by T.S. Eliot in “Four Quartets,” this dance involves the perichoresis of the Trinity, as well as the participation of humanity and, indeed, the entire created order.  Merton’s “new man” is a human being who is awake to this reality, and takes the wisdom figure, Sophia, as partner, delighting and sharing in the sacred interconnectedness of all things.  Such a person privileges the numinous, perceiving and experiencing the interrelation and integration of all things holistically, in and through Sophia’s “hidden wholeness,” as described in his prose-poem, “Hagia Sophia.” For Merton, “true” identity is a state of being and becoming that enables humans to recall (memoria) and recover the imago dei and le point vierge (the virginal point), or “spark” of the soul inhabited only by God.  This state of being and becoming is often expressed and experienced through the arts, and perhaps most pronouncedly through language.  As multi-facted, creative, insightful beings, humans engage the created order, giving name and symbolic expression to divine truths.  The “new man” is an artist who sees the sacredness of all things (him/herself included), and enjoys a connatural relationship with the Creator.

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Leah Cameron is a student of English in the Masters in Interdisciplinary Humanities program at Trinity Western University.  She is interested in theopoetics: the theological imagination, spiritual writing, and the interdisciplinary intersections therein.  Leah’s poetic influences include metaphysical poets such as John Donne, and modern poets such as T.S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Thomas Merton.  Leah holds a B.A. in music (vocal performance) from Trinity Western, which provides fertile ground for her artistic, interdisciplinary studies, specifically analysis of musical settings of poetry.  Leah completed UBC’s Arts One program, as well as a concentration in English from TWU.


The Art of Being Human: Exploring and Embracing the Artist Archetype

To be human is to be a character in the narrative of the created world.  To be an artist is to be a certain kind of archetype within this narrative.  The artist archetype sees the world through a filter of interactive imperatives – experience, process, create.  Just as manifestations of creative artistry reflect stationary and fluid moments within the narrative of humanity, the means and methods of artistry speak to experience and process.  In order to explore these means and methods as a model for the moment by moment mapping of a fully realized narrative, there is a need for new vocabulary.  This vocabulary must be just as stationary and fluid as the art itself. Thus, one aspect of this paper will be to define and develop the term ”ambiguous absolutes” as an entry into the endeavor to connect the framework of the day-to-day work of artistic craft to the day-to-day work of being human.  This framework speaks not only to what it means to be human, but also to submitting to the archetype of being an artist. This call to experience our humanity as artists, as a primary or secondary characteristic, is an individual encounter with communal benefits.   It is the call to live the narrative holistically, for the sake of creating, yes, but also for the sake of knowing what it is to be a creation. How do we embrace the artist archetype?  The main thrust of the paper will outline and examine the formational relationship between how artists, specifically actors, process the craft of their art, and how this correlates to the processing of our human art – living the narrative.

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Jaclyn Williams is a 2011graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary’s Masters of Divinity program with an emphasis in Worship, Theology, and the Arts.  She was ordained as a Christian minister in the Fall of 2012. Jaclyn also performs as an actor, director, and playwright, having completed a BA in Theatre from the University of Houston, as well as an MFA in Acting from the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of Washington.  She has had the recent honor of being the 2012 Parish Pulpit Fellow from Fuller Theological Seminary.  Her fellowship topic was “Preaching as an Oral Art Form”.

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