From the Editor

Last weekend my orchestra, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, played for a Solstice Festival in our adoptive home of Burien, just south of Seattle. We played a free concert for the community. We partnered with Encanto Arts, a local arts organization dedicated to celebrating work from the Latinx community as well as a local non-profit raising money for Ukrainians fleeing war torn areas of their country.

The evening began with a dance company who performed traditional dances from Latin America. The orchestra then played music from around the world, including the Ukrainian National Anthem. We were also joined by the mayor of Burien who is an amazing tenor. He sang pieces that ranged from the operatic to Mexican popular music (and yes, the audience often sang along!). A celebratory and community building evening all around! Along the way, we heard from local politicians, community leaders, and representatives from the Ukrainian community. Music that makes its way out of the concert hall and into the local community enables diverse groups to meet and care for one another through celebration and lament.

I want to claim that there is a deeper meaning and significance in concerts like this that helps to uncover something of the possibilities for the role of the Christian in the secular sphere. Fun, entertainment, community building, facilitating charitable giving, and developing a capacity for generosity are all fine goals and tasks unto themselves, but when they come together, something new begins to form. By turning to the thoughts of visual artist and culture maker Makoto Fujimura we can begin to sort out what might be happening when such collaborations occur.

In his opening remarks to the Encounter 10 Conference in 2010, Fujimura articulated a generative vision for the role of artists within communities. He argued that the goal and the success of any artist should, primarily, be defined by Shalom. He pointed out that Shalom is not simply peace or the absence of war, but instead “creativity” toward the “full thriving of our lives.” He maintained “that despite the fact that we face trials and broken relationships in our lives that we’re still looking to this vista that allows us to see ourselves fully human and able to use all of our capacity to create the world that ought to be, and that is Shalom. And, therefore, our goal has to be Shalom.” In his vision, he argues for what he refers to as “the Shalom Economy,” where creativity, social equity, and monetary capital come together to help re-build the world around us.

What Fujimura desires is for artists, non-profits, and for-profit businesses to collaborate in creative and generative ways, with the goal of greater Shalom. He calls for greater co-dependence between these realms, especially for Christians participating as artists, as advocates, and as businessmen and women. To establish the “New Capitalism,” all three realms must work together to efficiently use the capital at hand — artistic capital, social capital, and material capital (resources). And we should use all of this “capital” to start building the path to Shalom. Fujimura’s motto for his vision is: “Quest for love, and you will get success (Shalom).” In other words, this is the collaborative and generative use of artistic, social, and material capital to (as he borrows from 1 Corinthians 13) love more patiently, love more kindly, love more humbly, be more slow to anger, to see fully the humanity of ourselves and of others in all that we do and say.

On a warm and sunny evening at the end of June, with my violin in hand, sunglasses on my face, and music flying about in the wind, I think there was a small glimpse of this kind of Shalom economy. May it be so.

Peace,

Chelle Stearns

Seattle, WA

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Chelle Stearns

Chelle Stearns

Associate Professor of Theology at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology