Claim your Inner Chamelion
Process Theology and David Bowie
Time to face the strange. Adapt to new situations.
Reinvent yourself again and again. Claim your inner chamelion.
Turn and Face the Strange
One of the best spiritual writers of our time is the NPR music commentator and critic, Ann Powers. For a sample of her writing and its relevance matters of the heart, see A Fluid Space in the Heart: Music Writing as Exploratory Theology, How to be Alone: Musicians Confront Solitude, and Popular Music as a Space for Healing. Her commentary on David Bowie, reprinted below, is still another of spiritual writing at its best. In telling the story of her own experience as a Bowie Girl, she invites us to accept the fact that our identities are more fluid than we imagine, that we can claim our strangeness and accept the strangeness of others, that we can welcome what David Bowie calls "warm impermanence" in his song Changes, thus recognizing our own capacities for resilience and adaptation. She helps us claim our inner chamelion.
The chamelion is the living presence of God within us as a lure toward creative transformation relative to the situation at hand. In order to be open to this lure, we must learn to be playful about our own identities, not allowing our sense of who we are to become false gods in our imagination. This sense of who we are is partly the result of our own choice and partly the result of what we think others expect of us. The two go together: we choose to become what we think others expect.
In so doing we often neglect our own capacities for creative self-expression, for constructive strangeness, given the expectations of others. And we forget the fact that, truth be told, we are never reducible to any given self-image or, for that matter, to any complex of traits we've embodied in the past.
At least this is what process theology teaches us. It suggests that our lives are ongoing processes of becoming, and that by virtue of change itself, which is inherent in the nature of life, we are always just a little bit different from who we have been in the past. All more reason to turn and face the strange. I am reminded of the advice Reverend Teri Daily, a columnist for JJB, gave to her daughter.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Wear green eye shadow, dance while you cook, laugh until you cry, climb trees as an adult, always take time to see things through the eyes of a child, wear leopard-patterned hats. Remember that play is a way of praising God. (Rev. Teri Daily, Lessons for My Daughter)
Might there be a horizon of compassion embracing the universe who is perpetually enriched by all acts of holy play; who beckons people to break free from the hegemony of normativity; and who is praised, not by flattery, but by the putting on of green eye-shadow and leopard-patterned hats? I'm not sure if David Bowie believed in this kind of God, but I'm pretty sure he'd get the point about green eye shadow and leopard-patterned hats. Ann Powers gets it, too.
-- Jay McDaniel
-- Jay McDaniel
The Thin White Duke
Jareth the Goblin King
The Regular Dude
Reflections Of A Bowie Girl
Don't End Up Where You Started
According to Tony Visconti, David Bowie's longtime producer and mouthpiece for the final few years of his life, the English expat wanted to embrace manifold styles for his 25th album, ★, aka Blackstar, released last Friday. Pop's original chameleon had of course been doing that for 50-odd years, and so for this last time around, he aimed to omit the very music upon which he began. "The goal, in many, many ways," Visconti claims, "was to avoid rock & roll."
-- Barry Waters, NPR Review of Blackstar, January 11, 2016