Yesterday, I came across a web site called <100K Project, an awareness raising enterprise by Scott Walters dedicated to “bring(ing) the arts back home” to small and rural communities with populations under 100,000.” One of the posts I spent some time with is titled “On the Possibility of Art.” An interesting move Walters makes is to distinguish possibility from problem-solving, casting possibility in the light of the future, asserting that problem-solving is about fixing what’s past. He quotes from a book by Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging:
The challenge with possibility is it gets confused with goals, predictions, and optimism. Possibility is not about what we plan to happen, or what we think will happen, or whether things will get better. Goals, prediction, and optimism don’t create anything; they just might make things a little better and cheer us up in the process. Nor is possibility simply a dream. Dreaming leaves us bystanders or observers of our lives. Possibility creates something new. It is a declaration of a future that has thye quality of being and aliveness that we choose to live into. It is framed as a declaration of the world that I want to inhabit. It is a statement of who I am that transcends our history, our story, our usual demographics. The power is in the act of declaring…The future is created through a declaration of what is the possibility we stand for.
Walters then lists some of the questions Block is asking that made him think. They’re pretty good.
What possibility do you stand for? Block asks, “What is the crossroads where you find yourself at this stage of your life or in the project around which we are assembled?” Or more directly, and to my mind even more powerfully: “What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you?” And the two “overarching questions” that point to the future: “What do we want to create together that would make the difference?” And “What can we create together than we cannot create alone?”
I’m thinking about possible futures and projects as I look to rekindle my theatrical and artistic ventures, and I find this call to the possible helpful and timely. It speaks to me of the Kingdom plot of ground, and the “making” function of putting our talents and gifts to work to create the better world of the Kingdom of God. As you know, this is the core of my theology, the theology of making and creation and the possible. How odd that even as I know that in my bones, as I look from this new perspective of 50 years, the last couple deep in full-time ministry, there’s a temptation to see the possibilities as smaller than before.
As my study of Proverbs is showing me, God tests the heart. It’s not always clear what is a test and what is a temptation, but I’m pretty sure the old “more-than-we-can-imagine” clause still holds true.
What possibility will we stand for today?