For the non-musician, it allows us to provide more information than will fit within the size constraints of a media booklet.
For the musician, the commentary will help their performance to be more than just playing the notes by enabling them to understand the roots of the songs. It also serves to clarify the approach we hope will become more common in Christian rock.
For those who want to prove the spirit before recommending our music to others, we will attempt to show our hearts.
For us, this site is itself a means of artistic communication.
Realize we speak to a wide variety of people. Some parts will seem obvious, but please do not think we wish to insult your intelligence. You may easily understand everything merely from the songs, since nothing herein is wildly original. But other people are still relatively new to the discernment game.
Further, we cannot lay out all the interconnections, even with hypertext, for several reasons:
1. With some relationships, the best we can do is hand you a group of symbols and trust in your ability to intuit the connections because the relationship is artistic rather than linear.
2. We do not want to explain each and every level, since part of the fun is digging out the meanings for yourself. All we do in our descriptions is to give you the clues it seemed only right to provide. We apologize if this makes it seem we have confused art and puzzle making.
3. The full message cannot come across until after all the albums have been released.
4. Some symbols carry a huge amount of context. Entire libraries could be filled with books on mental institutions for example, all coming into play from the single word 'asylum'. It would be madness (sorry) to dissect every symbol involved, yet each relationship cannot be explicitly drawn without this. All that is feasible is to cover the major points, and leave the rest for the audience to discern.
"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my
grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a
wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something
your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die,
and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.
It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something
from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you
after you take your hands away."
Here we will try to explain part of the mindset behind Mirror Covenant. It is technical and dry, but there is a logical progression which a bare mission statement could not provide.
I. Why Mirror Covenant?
Mirror Covenant is an odd ministry because it does not involve face to face contact. We are an Internet band. This differs even from the typical Christian rock band because we are not "coming to a town near you". So if we do not provide personal encouragement and admonition, what are we doing? Art.
II. Why Art?
Why does anyone need art? Art is a level of communication both more abstract and more concrete than is typical of technical discourse.
Art is more abstract because it transmits the framework of the message and assumes the audience possesses the necessary material to lay upon the framework. This enables art to pack more meaning into the same space. Art is more concrete because the form more closely resembles how humans actually think. For example, I see myself as the main character in the story of my life, not as some low temperature biochemical reactor triggered by external stimuli.
The effect of art is important because of symbol and identification.
At root, human knowledge is composed of symbols which we group into patterns to form complex symbols. Through experience we not only acquire new symbols, but also elaborate our existing internal symbols. In keeping with this, let us use some symbols to flesh out this bare statement.
When an infant first encounters a shoe, they do not "understand" its "purpose". They have no internal symbol for it. But over time, as shoes are repeatedly put on their feet, they acquire that internal symbol, that these objects go on your feet, and even come to associate the object with the sound "shoe". But it is not an elaborate symbol. They will put their feet into things that turn out not to be shoes, and cry when given new shoes because their symbol is locked onto the original specific objects rather than shoes in general. The distinction between right and left shoe will long elude them.
With experience, a person can not only recognize a shoe (even one of a design they have never before encountered) but also its technical and social context. Because an adult has a sophisticated internal symbol of shoe, they recognize a well made shoe, a stylish one, a shoe suitable for hiking or attending a funeral, etc. They have acquired (possess an internal symbol) and associated (related that symbol to their experience).
Art takes this up a level. When you hear, "Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace," you do not imagine wearing books on your feet. Further, this simple phrase requires volumes of detail to describe the extent of its meaning and the ramifications of that meaning..
Symbols are shortcuts, a unified complex of recognitions and associations which allow us to think about things higher than shoes.
The essence of identification is to use some of another person's symbols as if they were your own. To pun madly against the previous section, identification is walking a mile in another person's shoes.
Existential isolation makes this important. Art allows us to step outside our own symbols to experience a portion of what it would be like to be a different person. Art gives us another dimension similar to the way blending the viewpoints of two eyes gives us depth perception. This is related to the passages about truth being seen upon hearing the second witness, and there being safety in a multitude of counselors.
II.C. Symbol, Identification, and Art
When I acquire and associate the symbols of many people's perspective, I elaborate my internal symbol of life. Because we are finite, no one perceives more than the smallest sliver of reality. Only by acquiring and associating these slivers can a mosaic be assembled that has anything even approaching an accurate representation of existence.
What does all this have to do with Christian ministry? Comprehending Truth. Christianity at the ground level says God created everything and told humanity through the Bible why He did it. That Bible not only uses symbols; it is a symbol, and is made of symbols. Further, Jesus is called the Word. Christians needs a sophisticated understanding of symbols.
III. Bible As Art
Note how compact the Bible is. Yes, compact. In a version with normal sized typeface, the Bible totals around 1700 pages. The size of a collegiate dictionary or a couple of biographies. Less than two thousand pages span from the beginning of time to the New Heaven and New Earth. Noah from the command to build the Ark through his death is less than 100 verses. The Tower of Babel, 9 verses. The Parable of the Sower, 6 verses. Revelation, 20 pages. All four Gospels, 150 pages.
How can the key to the world be no bigger than a dictionary? How can the mind of God be revealed in fewer pages than a set of books on gardening? Because the content is densely structured. Artistically, symbolically structured, where everything is connected together. In a Nelson Bible, John 3:13 has 6 cross references (links in today's hypertext terminology). Acts 24:5 has 15 links. And the referenced passages in turn have references of their own. The Bible is massively interconnected.
III.A. Ramifications of Bible Art
God was not just being obscure when He chose the Bible's style. The form anticipated hypertext by thousands of years, because the Bible turns out to be a hypertext document of staggering complexity. Why? The larger meaning of the document can only be seen artistically, that is to say through the internal web of relationships. So anyone wanting to understand must immerse themselves in the work. You will never understand unless you are continually pondering God's Word.
You must read the Bible to get the basic content. Then again for the basic structure. Then again and again to begin picking up on the connections between the parts. It is at this level in particular that the Holy Spirit "brings to remembrance" what you have read, and uses the connections as sparks to ignite flames of Truth within you.
The process of immersing yourself in the Word produces an artistic rather than technical understanding, a whole rather than dissected understanding. Look at the results of a typical seminary education to see this distinction in living color. This is significant for four reasons.
III.A.1. People who do not love the Word will not understand. The level of commitment is too high to invest in something you do not love.
III.A.2. This immersion produces an understanding rather than a memorization, a unity rather than a list of laws. This is why Jesus could engulf the law and prophets in 'love God utterly and your neighbor as yourself'. The Scripture's very form points to this unification.
III.A.3. This immersion weaves the Word into the very fabric of your being. The more you consider the way humans assimilate experience and knowledge into our symbol of the world, the more apparent it becomes that the Word's structure is perfectly designed to change a person's very nature. The dissected subclasses of branches of areas of divisions of knowledge, which form the core of Western knowledge organization, are artificial. Dissection is not how our mind works. Our mind assimilates and connects and looks for patterns. We look for the key to turn chaos into order, to unite many things into a single symbol.
III.A.4. A key aspect of an artistic understanding is to see things through the artist's eyes. The Word is artistically structured because the whole point is for us to see life through God's eyes. God is the artist.
III.B. Mirror Covenant As A Reflection of Bible Art
This is what Mirror Covenant is really about. This website is a symbol of the Biblical structure, a training ground for the mindset necessary to understand the Ultimate Website, The Bible. Where our website gives a holistic understanding of the band, the Bible reveals the mind of Christ. This is why "mirror" is the first word of the band's name. Any gleam we may produce is but a reflection of God's Light.
To have the proper effect, our work had to be an artistic effort, rather than a technical document, because the form had to reveal an identity rather than a topic. God is not a mere idea.
IV. Mirror Covenant and Art
Mirror Covenant exists to work on different levels. On one level it exists to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. On another level it exists to embody the importance of art. On another level the particular character of that art is a tool to demonstrate how to understand the greatest work of art, The Bible, created by the greatest artist, God. On another level it is a call for the unified multifaceted understanding to which art is essential. And on its most important level, Mirror Covenant is a call for Christians to unite into the perfect Bride of Christ, the delight of Jesus.
IV.A. The Artist
In the context of such a mission, I need to be an artist through and through. I need to expand and elaborate my internal symbol of life so that the art may have as large a perspective as possible. While this certainly requires study of the Word, it is not the same type of focus used by the office of evangelist or pastor or teacher. These offices call for digging down to line upon line, precept upon precept. The role of the artist calls for expanding outward, linking these lines and precepts into symbolic structures, and in so doing bring to light the unity of the Word.
IV.B. Prerequisite to Art
The reason why the role of artist is only now emerging in the Body relates back to what was said at the outset about art. Art, "assumes the audience possesses the necessary material to lay upon the framework." If the audience does not possess the lines and precepts, the internal symbols, they cannot possibly understand how the artist is connecting these symbols.
There is a good example of this concept in a Star Trek episode titled, "Darmok". The language of the Tamarian race cannot be translated because the meaning is incomprehensible even when the words are understood. It turns out the language is allusive. Their communication rests on a shared history which they use as metaphors to illustrate a situation.
An example would be if you asked what happened to a man we both used to know who was driven by the lust for power. If I answered, "Waterloo", you would understand that I meant his ambition had brought him to ruin.
Another example would be if you asked me how a particular person reacted to adversity. If I answered, "Hitler in the bunker," you would understand me to mean this person withdraws into a paranoid fantasy world. Yet if I answered, "Churchill in the bunker," you would understand me to mean this person will hold onto what is right no matter the cost. Opposite meanings, yet the only difference is the proper noun. If you did not know who Hitler or Churchill were, neither response would be comprehensible.
So too, Mirror Covenant could not tie together things like the Beast and greed for an audience that did not know what the Bible says about the end times or that Satan was thrown from Heaven for mounting a rebellion to take God's glory and throne for himself. If the pastors were not teaching the Word, art based on Scriptural understanding and symbols would be incomprehensible babbling.
IV.C. Art and Division
Now let us take this up another level. Christian art that presses the limits will have an interesting effect. It will fulfill Jesus words about "to those that have more will be given" and "anyone who does not draw to me scatters". The more Word you hold, the greater the number of relationships that can be drawn. Factorial increase. Part of what Jesus was saying is that this kind of communication will drive a wedge between those who fear and those who mock God; a polarization clearly foretold in the Word.
To those in darkness, Christian art will be annoying because not understood. They reject Jesus, Who is wisdom, so God will give them over to a reprobate mind. To circle round to symbolism again, Christian art will sharpen their rejection because it stands as a symbol of the Christianity they scorn.
One of the most interesting consequences of this rejection will rise because the worldly will think they understand Christian art. They will hear the call for unity in the Body of Christ, and throw out the part about the Body of Christ. The fragmentation of our world will make the appeal to unity compelling, their rejection will remove the reason to be united, Jesus, and so bring them to an art with human unity as its core. They will worship created beings instead of the Creator. Where will this idol centered unity lead? The Tower of Babel. Human unity will draw people together to make a name for themselves instead of accepting the white stone upon which God has written your true name. Human unity will lead eventually to the pathetic open warfare of attacking the Lord of lords with guns and bombs.
To the children of the Light, Christian art will be a tool of unity. Unity of the Bride is the key. And not as a Body that merely lives, but one that thrives, that grows to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Jesus. Do not miss the significance of the symbols involved. We are now the Body of Christ, formed from His side so to speak. But Jesus is not going to marry a child. Jesus will not return for His Betrothed until we have come of age.
IV.D. Bride Minded
If Mirror Covenant has anything to say, this is it. BE BRIDE MINDED! See the world through this perspective. Anything that moves us away from the ultimate unity of our wedding to Jesus must be laid aside.
IV.E. Bride Characteristics
The call to be Bride Minded might appear a call to abandon the world. God forbid. There are two factors against this.
IV.E.1. How can we remove the speck from anyone's eye until we take the log out of our own? We will not be much use to this world until we come together.
IV.E.2. Would you marry a person with no compassion for the tormented? I would hope not. The characteristics of the Bride are found in Proverbs 31, and include, "She opens her arms to the poor. Yes, she stretches out her hand to the needy." (verse 20) Leading up to this is verse 8, "Speak for those who cannot speak in their own defense." I believe this verse is about the lost who have no advocate before the Father and the unborn whose lungs have not yet tasted air, as well as those oppressed by the strong. Note in every country in the world but the fat first world nations, to speak for those who cannot is THE role of the artist.
The chapter on the "Virtuous Woman" needs to be seen through Bride Minded eyes. Jesus cannot expect less of His Bride than a human king was told to seek. There is certainly deeper meaning herein, but let us look at a few obvious ones.
Should the Church be involved in commerce?
"She knows her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go
out at night. She puts her hand to the loom."
< 18-19 >
"She sells luxurious garments to the merchant."
< 24 >
Should the Church help its members?
"She is not concerned about her household when it snows, for all are
clothed in crimson."
< 21 >
Should Christians be prosperous?
"She makes coverings for herself of fine linen and purple."
< 22 >
Should Christians speak on public issues?
"She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."
< 26 >
Should the Church think long term?
"She considers a field, and buys it. She plants a vineyard with
the fruit of her hand."
< 16 >
Should the Church be well organized?
"She is like the ships of the merchant. She brings her food from far away. She
rises before dawn to provide food for her household and tasks for her servants."
< 14-15 >
How should we view public turmoil?
"Strength and honor are her clothing, and in the future she will rejoice."
< 25 >
How should our behavior affect Jesus' reputation?
"Her husband is known in the city gates, taking a seat among the elders."
< 23 >
What is our reward?
"Give her of the fruit of her hands. Let her works praise her
at the city gates."
< 31 >
Is this the image of a self absorbed Bride? An ignorant Bride? A frail hothouse Bride too delicate to participate in ordering the world in which she lives? We say we are the Bride of Christ without pondering on the vast riches of that symbol, and how intricately it connects to passages spread across the entire Bible.
Some will read and be aghast. If we are the Bride, and the Virtuous Woman a type of the Bride, then all we get to do is work! Perhaps such people would do well to consider one more symbol. Read The Song of Solomon.
“Art has been defined as unity in diversity. I would define man as unity in spite of multiplicity!”
“Conceiving of man in terms of bodily, mental, and spiritual strata or layers means dealing with him as if his somatic, psychic, and noetic modes of being could be separated from each other.”
“I myself have tried simultaneously to do justice to the ontological differences and the anthropological unity by what I have called dimensional anthropology and ontology. This approach makes use of the geometrical concept of dimensions as an analogy for qualitative differences which do not destroy the unity of a structure.”
“Dimensional ontology as I have propounded it, rests on two laws. The first law of dimensional ontology reads: One and the same phenomenon projected out of its own dimension into different dimensions lower than its own is depicted in such a way that the individual pictures contradict one another.”
“Imagine a cylinder, say, a cup. Projected out of its three-dimensional space into the horizontal and vertical two-dimensional planes, it yields in the first case a circle and in the second one a rectangle. These pictures contradict one another. What is even more important, the cup is an open vessel in contrast with the circle and the rectangle which are closed figures. Another contradiction!”
“Now let us proceed to the second law of dimensional ontology which reads: Different phenomena projected out of their own dimension into one dimension lower than their own are depicted in such a manner that the pictures are ambiguous.”
“Imagine a cylinder, a cone, and a sphere. The shadows they cast upon the horizontal plane depict them as three circles which are interchangeable. We cannot infer from a shadow what casts it, what is above it, whether a cylinder, a cone, or a sphere.”
“Now how should we apply these images to anthropology and ontology? Once we have projected man into the biological and psychological dimensions we also obtain contradictory results. For in the one case a biological organism is the result; in the other a psychological mechanism. But, however the bodily and mental aspects of human existence might contradict one another, seen in the light of dimensional anthropology this contradiction no longer contradicts the oneness of man. Or does the contradiction between a circle and a rectangle contradict the fact that both result from a projection of the same cylinder?”
“Dimensional ontology is far from solving the mind-body problem. But it does explain why the mind-body problem cannot be solved. Of necessity the unity of man - a unity in spite of the multiplicity of body and mind - cannot be found in the biological or psychological but must be sought in that noological dimension out of which man is projected in the first place.”
“However, alongside the problem of mind versus body, there is the problem of determinism, the problem of freedom of choice. But this problem, too, may well be approached along the lines of dimensional anthropology. The openness of a cup necessarily disappears in the horizontal and vertical dimensions. Well, man, too, projected into a dimension lower than his own appears to be a closed system, be it of physiological reflexes or psychological reactions and responses to stimuli. These motivational theories, e.g., which still adhere to the homeostasis principle, deal with men as with a closed system. This, however, means disregarding and neglecting that essential openness of human existence which has been evidenced by Max Scheler, Adolph Portman, and Arnold Gehlen. Particularly the biologist Portman and the sociologist Gehlen have shown us that man is open to the world. Because of the self-transcendent quality of human existence, I would say, being human always means being directed and pointing to something or someone other than itself.”
“All this disappears in the biological and psychological dimensions. But in the light of dimensional anthropology we can at least understand why this must happen. Now the apparent closedness of man in the biological and psychological dimensions no longer contradicts the humanness of man. Closedness in the lower dimension is very compatible with openness in a higher one, be it the openness of a cylindrical cup, or that of a human being.”
“Now it may also have become understandable why sound findings of research in the lower dimensions, however they may neglect the humanness of man, need not contradict it. This is equally true of approaches as distinct as Watsonian behaviorism, Pavlovian reflexology, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Adlerian psychology. They are not nullified by logotherapy but rather overarched by it. They are seen in the light of a higher dimension - or, as the Norwegian psychotherapist Bjarne Kvilhaug put it with special reference to learning theory and behavior therapy, the findings of these schools are reinterpreted and reevaluated by logotherapy - and rehumanized by it.”
“In this context a warning remark is necessary. Speaking of higher as opposed to lower dimensions does not imply a value judgment. A ‘higher’ dimension just means a more inclusive and encompassing dimension.”
“This is a crucial issue of anthropology. It implies no more nor
less than the recognition that man, by having become a human being, in
no way ceases to remain an animal, any more than an airplane ceases to
be capable of moving around the ground of the airport.”