It’s the church online. HERE you can link to the first of a three-part interview I did with Rev. Matthew Johnson on creativity. Eventually, when the links to parts two and three go live (see below) and the whole interview resides on Sound Cloud, the whole arc of our conversation will become clearer. It starts with a general discussion on creativity (Part 1 at the link above), then moves on to creativity in jazz and other fields, and finally creativity and God…
…which brings us back to the church online. Click on the logo just above and you’ll be taken to the website of Portico Collective, an online community of faith, led by Matthew Johnson and Britt Cox.
In the interview above Matthew Johnson refers to me as a “renowned” author—a hyperbole if there ever was one!—and also to my college, North Central College, as the world headquarters of the Portico, not too much of an exaggeration, though it is a little one. For Portico Collective is a window, a portal, to everywhere. This community of faith has “Physical Gatherings” occasionally, but “Virtual Gatherings” all the time, at least every time you’re online. “Face to face meetings are one kind of reality,” says Johnson, “but meeting online is another kind, one that’s becoming more important every day.”
“In the winter of 2007, Bill Obalil asked a question that served as the inception for Portico Collective,” says the About page of the Portico website. The question: “How do we engage in meaningful conversations with people who will never step foot inside a church building?”
“Church buildings are intimidating places,” the About page continues. “The older ones are fortresses. The newer ones are caverns. Those that have done additions are mazes. For many we speak with, the architecture, smells, light, and shadows evoke painful memories of belittlement, abuse, and emotional violence. Buildings that were constructed to help people step into the realm of the holy are now impediments. For many, they are masks that conceal the image of God….The age of the sanctuary is dead. Christianity as the religion of the empire has passed.”
“…there is no place—or medium—where God is not. That means God is present in the digital realm, too. Relationships that exist online are real because the Spirit lives in them. They are meaningful and intimate because Christ is present in them.”
The Portico Collective may be centered somewhat at North Central College, and Chicagoland in general, but its regular contributors come from Nashville, Winston-Salem, Savannah, and beyond. And everyone who participates by leading, contributing, or just logging on to listen, read, or respond inhabits that virtually infinite online world, a world also inhabited by the saving, creative presence of Christ.
♦ Hear Part 2 and Part 3 of my interview on creativity with Matthew Johnson.
♦ Go to Voices and Freedoms, my book on the history of jazz. This post will also link you to the jazz radio series based on this book.