A New Language
A new language emerges out of the ashes of
modernism. It is decidedly the language of metaphor, and it will
definitely ride a wave of emotion.
This new language will involve all forms of
communication in a sensuous, emotional multimedia more real than
reality itself. Like all arts, rituals, and symbols, this new
metaphor—this new interplay of the senses—will represent something
"not there" . . . something beyond itself . . . something unseen.
And it will embody the power—through God’s grace—to transform us . .
. to recreate us . . . even to heal us.
Already, terms like "virtual" reality, "cyber"
space, "real" time, "artificial" life, and "endo-" and
"nanotechnologies" blend the scientific with the sensuous,
technology with touch, and the Internet with intimacy. In short, we
are becoming "cyborgs"—blending cyb(ernetics) with our org(anism).
A New Art
This 21st century language will begin as a
highly-developed multimedia, like the computer enhanced movies and
video games of today. But it will morph quickly into a "virtual
reality" far different from the traditional arts. In the hands of
the church, we will call it "prophetic metaphor."
This new language—the future form of art—will
revolutionize our senses. Its science will make our emotions and
feelings—especially touch—cognitive extensions of our minds.1
In other words, we will "know" through our feelings. And, as in
flight simulators, we will see no difference between "virtual" and
"Felt meaning" will take on "new meaning."
Twenty-first century art, for example, will cease
separating the different art forms . . . it will ignore the
distinction between "high" and "low" art . . . and it will refuse
the myopia of turned-in cultures. Instead, it will totally wed
itself to technology—even "virtual" artists will someday seek their
fame.2 And today’s performers who manipulate their
audiences will be replaced by audiences who manipulate their
The performing arts will change even more. As
thoughts lose their logical sequence, performances will toss out
their "timeline." Music, for example, will hold a whole gamut of
moods in each moment, much the way paintings present complete
pictures in each glance. The performing arts, in other words, will
function more in "real time" and less on a "timeline." Or, we can
say they will become more "vertical" and less "horizontal." Already,
New Age music prefers repeated patterns to timelined "developments."
And we see these future trends in all the arts.
Derrick De Kerckhove rightly recognizes John Sanborn’s videos, Karl
Sims’ computer graphics, Dieter Jung’s holography, and Monica
Fleishmann’s virtual realities.
Of course, we won’t computerize everything. Yet
everything we do—whether online or offline—will be informed by the
"reality" of these new feelings. And that reality requires an inner
mix of art, emotion, and communication. Today’s artistic events, for
example, limit themselves to particular times and places, but the
art of the future will happen anyway, anywhere, anytime, and in any
form . . . continuously.
No longer will the preacher say, "After the
music, we will have the Word." If preaching doesn’t change, we’ll
say, "Before the sermon, we will have theWord."
A New Metaphor
These new emotions are not just old feelings
warmed over . . . they are not mere emotions in postmodern dress . .
. they are not strictly pie-in-the-sky passions. Instead, they are
empowered passions that will forever change the world.
Consider this: Virtual reality is the language of
the future . . . prophetic metaphor is the power within virtual
reality . . . and emotion is the power within metaphor.
Emotion is the key to the future!
Why do metaphor and emotion create such powerful
synergies? Because metaphors, Carl Hausman writes, involve a
"spiritual level." And—at that level—they become "active forces in
the world" . . . they have the power to bring "something into
being."3 Paul Ricoeur agrees: Metaphors ground us "within
a Christian vista of promise and hope," and they have "the power not
only to generate meaning but ultimately to change the world."4
Why not? Murray Krieger claims . . . they invoke
We find the same synergistic power in art, for
"Metaphor is a perfect model of art."6 In fact, metaphor
and art are the same. No wonder the sensuous beauty in art "does
Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote, "Overwhelming
beauty points beyond itself." Further, Carl Jung knew an art that
"evokes a superhuman world." For what purpose? "The final task of
perfect art," Vladimir Solovyov insisted, is to "transfigure our
actual life." More to the point, echoed Dostoevsky, "Beauty will
save the world."
Yet, not beauty itself. . . . We "feel" the truth
in beauty. So beauty, according to Sergius Bulgakov, becomes—in
reality—"the reality of truth felt." And this "felt truth" changes
the world. "The artists of our era," William Irwin Thompson writes,
"are not so much describing the world as creating a new one." "It is
an expression of knowing . . . yet unborn."
"The metaphor is probably the most fertile power
possessed by man." (José Ortega
A New Creativity
By now, we understand that creativity and emotion
are also one . . . that intuitive visions and inspired feelings
deeply require each other . . . that the excitement of discovery and
the curiosity of creativity commingle. Amy Lowell was right,
"Whatever (creativity) is, emotion, apprehended or hidden, is a part
of it." For "Only emotion can rouse the subconscious into action."
The very origin of the word "emotion" means a
"movement out." When fervent hopes look forward to the fruit of
inner fires . . . when hearts ignite visions of unseen things soon
to be made real . . . we anticipate the "yet-to-be." Wordsworth
admitted that a creative person is simply one affected more than
others "by absent things as if they were present."
Then—oftentimes—something happens. What we
envision becomes real . . . our inspiration becomes a
self-fulfilling prophecy. It derives its meaning from the evidence
we proclaim, even as we proclaim it. It creates a new reality from
the new world we announce, even as we announce it.
The creative future and our prophetic passions
will walk hand in hand. Because power incarnates power.
A vividly shared imagination is not
simply a shared consensual delusion, but a collective form
of incarnation; it is more like a civilization than a
A New Reality
Finally, a new science—quantum physics—now turns
old science upside-down and affirms what artists have always known.
Today, we often speak of quantum leaps—sudden and significant
changes—never fully understanding these are "leaps" between parallel
worlds of unpredictable powers.8
Why does this new science concern empowered
passions? Because in quantum worlds . . . more matters than matter!
"What else but quantum mechanics," ask the
thinkers, "explains the miraculous event of creativity."9
"Since imagination locates itself in time, it must also locate
somewhere in space. Somewhere, in other words, it takes on a
And here’s how:
In the odd world of quantum, things exist in a
multitude of states until tipped toward a definite outcome by the
act of "measurement." In other words, once we look, we change what
is seen. That’s the reason the imagination—or the creative images—of
scientists often foreshadow their physical findings.11,
So what we imagine, then, happens in parallel
worlds. There is an unavoidable bond between the observer and the
world observed—between our imagination and the created image—which
makes observing a quantum event without changing it impossible.13
We create it, and it, in turn, creates us.
Can we imagine a world made of prophetic
An Ancient Truth
None of this is new. We are not discovering a new
truth, we are rediscovering a forgotten truth. It is not new wisdom,
it is neglected wisdom.
Spiritual emotion has always been about power.
Throughout Scripture, for example, feeling and power intimately
require each other. As a result, no book has changed the world more
than the Bible. Jonathan Edwards echoed this bond between might and
emotion: "He who has not religious affection . . . is wholly
destitute of the powerful quickening influences of the Spirit of
Amazingly, the language of the postmodern future
returns us to the oral tradition of the ancient Hebrews. Unlike our
modern words—known only by the brain—Hebrew "words" emerged first
from the body . . . from visceral feelings . . . from the intuitive
heart . . . rather than the logical mind. To them, the "Word" was a
living, aesthetic experience. That’s the reason they even talked of
"dancing" with it.
No wonder, for God’s aesthetic beauty and His
power are one. And His "beauty and delightfulness" bring power to
"the work of our hands."14 The majority of the prophetic
books in the Bible, for example, are lyric oracles or poetic songs.
In fact, artistic skills were a prophetic necessity. When
Jehoshaphat asked Elisha to prophesy, he said, "First bring me a
musician."15 When David appointed prophets, he demanded
musicians (288 of them!).16
In the same way, the prophetic metaphor of the
postmodern future mirrors exactly the prophetic metaphor of the
ancient past. Inspired prophets were creators of comparison and
contrast . . . artists of analogy and affinity . . . virtuosos of
similarity and similitude. In short, they spoke the language of
The greatest metaphor of all time, for example,
was Jesus. Prophetic metaphor confirmed His entire ministry. Paul
said, "(Jesus) is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible
representation of the invisible]."17 And finally, His
very death and resurrection, Paul said, were metaphors of our own
death and life in this lifetime.18
"With Signs Following"
The rapid innovations of the future will also
recapture the miraculous creativity of the Hebrews—their potent
mixture of power and passion. Contrary to modern opinion, creativity
pervades the entire Bible. The Bible’s "religious language does not
describe what is," claims Harvard’s Harvey Cox. Instead, "it
describes what is coming to be."
Jesus even built His church on creativity or
"inspired vision." A careful reading of the original Greek in
Matthew 16:15-18 reveals Jesus founded His church on spiritual
It’s not an overstatement to declare the oneness
of faith and creativity. Faith anticipates the "yet-to-be." It looks
"to things that are unseen" and "perceives" the things for which we
hope. Then it gives "substance" to its vision.19 In other
words, the Hebrews constantly claimed the "coming to be." Their
foreseen future of faith and their imagined vision of creativity
were the same spiritual force.
In short, they were created to create!
Quantum physics would not have surprised them
either. They knew all things exist in the invisible realm before
they appear in the visible realm. So their faith became the
"substance"—or raw material—of which things were made.20
They simply copied the example of God who spoke "of nonexistent
things . . . as if they [already] existed" . . . "declaring the end
and the result from the beginning."21
They fully expected their "words" . . . their
inspired visions . . . their anointed creativity . . . to go forth
and do things. And their faith was confirmed "with signs following."
So we find no surprise that under dry skies,
Elijah announces, "There is the sound of abundance of rain." Nor is
it rare when Jesus declares, "I have overcome the world," when—in
reality—His victory became fact when He later died and rose again.
The rediscovery of these ancient truths brings
incredible revelations. If we understand the ancient role of emotion
in language, art, metaphor, creativity, and reality, we finally
understand God’s intention for the arts . . . the awesome presence
of worship . . . the language of the postmodern world . . . and our
only hope for the future.
No longer can we dismiss feelings as "just
feelings." Let us reclaim the power of our passion.
"Fan the gift into flame." (II Timothy 1:6)
© 2010 Thomas Hohstadt
1. Christopher Dewdney in Derrick de Kerckhove,
The Skin of Culture (Toronto: Somerville House Publishing,
1995) p. xxi.
2. Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual
Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (New York:
Viking, 1999) p. 279.
3. Carl Hausman, Metaphor and Art:
Interactionism and Reference in the Verbal and Nonverbal Arts
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989) pp. 5, 111, 198.
4. Morny Joy, "Images: Images and Imagination,"
The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987 ed., VII, l08.
5. Hausman, p. 5.
6. Hausman, p. 231.
7. William Irwin Thompson, Coming Into Being
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996) p. 153.
8. Kimberly A. McCarthy, "Indeterminacy and
Consciousness in the Creative Process: What Quantum Physics Has to
Offer," Creativity Research Journal Volume 6 (3) 201-219
9. John McCrone, "Quantum states of mind," New
Scientist, August 20, 1994, pp. 35, 36.
10. Michael Lockwood, Mind, Brain and the
Quantum, reviewed by Stuart Sutherland in Nature, Vol 343
Feb. 1, 1990, p. 424.
11. Roger Penrose: Shadows of the Mind: A
Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness, quoted in
The New York Times, Monday, October 31, 1994, by Christopher
Lehmann-Haupt [Section C, Page 20, Column 3].
12. McCrone, pp. 35, 36.
14. Biblical "glory," for example, means both power and beauty.
See also Psalm 32:7, 118:14, 90:17; AMP.
15. II Kings 3:11-16, AMP.
16. I Chronicles 25:1, 7; II Chronicles 29:30.
17. Col 1:15, AMP.
18. Romans 6:5, AMP.
19. Hebrews 11:1.
20. Hebrews 11:1, KJ.
21. Romans 4:17, Isaiah 46:10; AMP.