If you haven’t been following Christianity Today‘s This Is Our City project, I’ve got to tell you you’re missing out on some really great stuff. The project aims to tell stories about Christians seeking the flourishing of their cities in all sectors of public life. Portland and Richmond have been highlighted so far, and Phoenix is up next.
Most recently, they introduced a new short film by Nathan Clarke, featuring a furniture maker in Richmond named Harrison Higgins who believes that the work of our hands can either be a sacrament or a sacrilege (an idea he borrows from Wendell Berry).
Here’s the film:
Philosophy professor and author James K.A. Smith has now written a wonderful meditation on the film as well, called “Artificial Grace: Why the Creation Needs Human Creativity.” Here’s an excerpt:
[F]or Higgins, there is no simplistic opposition between nature and culture, between a pristine creation and human artifice—the creative “work of our hands” that gives birth to artifacts, to cultural goods. To the contrary, good artifice is its own kind of grace: to make is to serve, is to bear God’s image to and for the creation. A Christian theology of creation is not the same as Mother Earth mythologies of “the natural” that ultimately end up lamenting humanity’s presence as a blight on creation. No, we worship the Maker of all, the Artificer we come to know in Jesus of Nazareth, the son of a carpenter. A Christian affirmation of the goodness of creation is also an affirmation of artifice—redeeming the very word, we might say, from its association with the fake and the faux. In an older sense, artifice attests to creativity and craft.
[Photo credit: This Is Our City]