I love to read and write. The guy next to me makes videos and plays something like five musical instruments. The audience around us is composed of a wide variety of creatives including photographers, designers, musicians and writers. In the coming days we will hear from poets, preachers, professors, theologians, rappers and singer/songwriters. Canvas 2016 is about to start.
One of the great issues that troubles christians today is the loss of youth interest in the faith. As many young people are growing up and going off to college and university, their faith in the biblical stories in which they were raised seems to shrivel up and die. Although this is not exactly the case in all christian contexts throughout the US, the concern seems to linger everywhere. Where are our youth going? Why? Different churches respond in different ways. Some churches try to wall themselves off from any “worldly” influence and education. Others try to amp up the “cool factor” of their youth ministries by trying to mimic the current ideas of what is attractive to young people. And yet, no matter how much action is taken, it will in the end be futile, unless the heart of the issue is seen first.
The moment I stepped into the sanctuary I knew that this was going to be something different. The only lights in the worship area are blue and they light the stage, where a white bearded DJ sits mixing an eclectic beat. The music comprised a unique combination of electronic sounds, strings and percussion, with the occasional echo of everyday sounds – chirping birds, bells and vocals. A light white smoke drifts among the amps, wires and speakers. A fragmented mural Jesus looks down from the high wall behind the stage. A thoughtful transcendence fills the room. It smells like coffee.
Canvas Conference 2016 is about to start.
One of the defining aspects of our generation is the quest for personal freedom. We are a generation that is skeptical of authorities and traditions. We have seen the abuses and hypocrisies of the past – be it religious institutions, governmental authorities or educators. We see that many of the proposed answers of the past have only done as much as put a bandaid on some of society’s deepest troubles. There is a very vivid push today to free ourselves, both as a society and as individuals many of the ideas of the past.
This then pushes up against the next big question, what is true freedom? Anytime you try to answer this question you are going to inevitably bring in some sort of moral judgement. We must be freed from such and such evil in order that we may experience such and such good. Anytime we are talking about fighting for freedom we are talking about liberating humanity from some sort of wrong state and into some sort of, more right, state. In essence we are talking about a right way to live, a order for life the way it should be.