Minnekon – A.way

On Saturday night I was part of the culmination of the Minnekon experience – an Ikon-like event. If you’ve never read How (Not) to Speak of God, then you might not have a feeling for what an Ikon event is like. First off, I recommend reading the book (the second half of the book describes ten different Ikon events, and is worth the price of the book all by itself), but basically Ikon events are experiential, experimental, creative, provocative, and theatrical attempts to knock people off their normal course – if even for just a moment. Peter Rollins describes these events as theodrama and transformance art. Ultimately, these events are an attempt to create a space where God can give God. As I mentioned in a previous post, Ikon events have seven elements: liturgy (theological words), ritual (interactive communal response), visuals, music, personal reflections, stories (parables, poetry, etc.), and a gift for everyone to take away from the experience. On Friday night (and into Saturday) we worked hard to prepare for the Minnekon event. I was part of the liturgy group and my primary task was to create an introduction for the event. I’ll share that later (here).

The theme of the event was “(finding) a.way (from here).” The entire experience was an attempt to play with the at times contradictory yet interactive ideas of finding a way and going away from here. The theme was actually very relevant for where I am in my life right now – but I’ll save that topic for my Minnekon reflections post…

The event started out with everyone receiving a name tag before entering. Each person was then told to write on the name tag some important elements of their own identity. The name tag was then taken away and replaced with a blank name tag that everyone put on as they went into the event. As people entered, someone was playing the song “Amazing Grace,” except the words were changed to “I once was found, but now I’m lost. Could see but now I’m blind.” After everyone had found their way into the room I went up to the mic and read my introduction. There was a story about being lost and looking for directions, there was an original song based on the theme, a few personal reflections/stories/poetry readings, a liturgy with a communal response, and Pete shared his parable about going away from here (the origin of the theme “a.way”). The ritual involved everyone coming to the center and using their blank name tag to write a burden they were carrying. Everyone put the tags into a basket and later everyone took someone else’s tag and put it on. Throughout this entire time there was background music/ambient beats and also video projected onto two screens in the room. There were also people shining flashlights around the room at different points during the event. A couple cool visuals involved doing live searches on Google Maps and Google Earth that were displayed on the screens. These searches involved words like “lost,” “hope,” “away,” etc. This was really very cool…but the whole thing is hard to describe. The intent is for the event to be very experiential so words certainly do not do it justice. But hopefully this gives you a little feel for it all. As everyone left they were given a few “gifts” – a small part of a map, a bus ticket stamped with “changes required,” and their original name tag which had been stained in tea.

So what does all this mean?

Some people did leave wondering this very question. But that is part of the whole idea behind theodrama/transformance art. The “meaning” is not what’s so important, or at least having one specific Meaning is not important. Hopefully the event as a whole encouraged an experience that shook people slightly off course and perhaps, just perhaps, God was able to give God in some way. Considering the short amount of time we spent planning the event, I thought it went really well and had some great content. Everyone seemed happy with it. One of the Ikon folks I talked to afterwards said it was remarkably similar in tone to a regular Ikon event (not that copying Ikon is the point). Overall it was a great experience. I am very intrigued by the creation of these kinds of spaces and I hope I can do something like this again in the future.

[My overall reflections on the week are still to come. I’ll also post the introduction I wrote some time later today (here).]

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Minnekon Posts:

Minnekon – Reflections
Minnekon – A.way Introduction
Minnekon – A.way
Minnekon – Session 3
Minnekon – Session 2
Minnekon – Emergent Cohort
Minnekon – Session 1
Minnekon – Peter Rollins & Friends

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I’ve blogged through both of Rollins’ books:

The Fidelity of Betrayal and How (Not) to Speak of God

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