Monday, January 14, 2013

Kingdom of God as Palindromic Poetry: Jesus' Inverted Imagination

I was paging through Kenda Dean's, "Ascension Deficit Disorder: Youth Ministry as a Laboratory for Hope," when I read of the form of creative writing that took YouTube by storm in 2007. It's called "Reverse Thinking." AARP had launched a contest called, U@50, where youth contestants were to create a video that depicted what life would be like for them upon eligibility to this senior organization. Jonathan Reed, who would place second, submitted his poem, "Lost Generation." The masterpiece can be read backwards and forwards, right-way-up and upside-down, with completely different meanings.

When read top-to-bottom, the future is bleak and heart-breaking at best. When the poem is re-read in reverse, the false and fatalist assumptions about the current generation of youth are flipped on their heads. Instead of life as a dead-end disappointment through work-aholism and over-consumption, youth claim hope that the world and their generation can and will be different. Reed illustrates an upside-down vision and dream for his generation.

It was early into the first-century A.D. when a Jewish revolutionary, unconventional rabbi, prophetic story-teller named Jesus began to proclaim his own alternative vision for the world. The one we know to be God-in-flesh ushered an inverted imagination that paved the way for a better and fuller way of being in and for the world.

Said differently, Jesus was the first one to drop reverse thinking as a creative and incarnated art form.

The last shall be first.

Come all you weary.

Blessed are the poor.

So I thought I would offer my own rendition and kingdom-inspired palindromic beat, "Truth Be Told: live in Reverse." Read from top to bottom and then reverse your thinking and read from the bottom to the top.

The discipline of writing palindromic poetry is its own illustration of our call to live in reverse as Jesus' disciples. It takes time, creativity, patience, and a willingness to try and fail and try again.

Thanks to Eliza Glipin and her college friends who did the voice-over video version.