After a week of playing Foursquare, I thought the group of middle and high school students I currently work with was ready for some….Jack Caputo and postmodern theology and philosophy? Sure, why not? These are smart kids.
I began by showing them some icons and talking about the importance of icons throughout church history. We then shared what some of our images of God were, and I passed out Play-Doh and encouraged the youth to spend some time (with Bon Iver playing in the background) molding their image of God with the Play-Doh. After everyone was done, we went around and shared our images; you can see some in the photo below.
One seventh grader who has been in our youth ministry for only a few weeks molded a little baby, and said, “I made a baby, because that symbolizes new life – and when I think of my image of God – I think of new life.”
Seriously people…you can’t make this stuff up. It was awesome. Others created more abstract Play-Doh images, and one person spent a long time crafting a really beautiful rose for her image of God.
After sharing their images of God, I told them a Jack Caputo quote (at least the person who originally shared it with me told me it was attributed to Caputo): “We must do our theology with a hammer.” After some discussion on that, we talked about the Meister Eckhart quote that Peter Rollins uses a lot, “God, rid me of God.” We talked about how inadequate our images of God truly are, and that no matter how great our image is, we must not let it become an idol, something we worship instead of God. So we must be willing to hammer our images of God, to destroy them as an act of humility and an acknowledgment of God’s greatness.
In order to make that idea stick a bit more, we went out of the youth building to the labyrinth lined with candles, and the students and leaders proceeded to take a large mallet and smash their images of God on a cinder block. The block ended up breaking in half, and provided some great imagery for the prayer exercise.
Afterward, many of the youth and leaders shared how meaningful this actually was for them, and helped them reflect on how they think about God. In addition, it was a great reminder to me that we should be expecting MORE and not less from our youth when it comes to theological reflection and the ability to connect the dots to their lives.