Surplus of meaning

a work of art in the Cheshire countryside

It has been good to be involved in the development of an Arts & Faith Network (for the Diocese of Chester), and to be “breathing space” at Stephen Broadbent’s studio yesterday with textile artists, stained glass artists, wordsmiths, dancers, painters, sculptors, actors, authors, poets, cooks, singers, preachers and “makers of pretty things”. Until yesterday the Network hadn’t been much more than an idea shared by a few people and it was difficult to put into words what it was about and what could happen. Now it has got legs, is on the road, and has its own story – “the day we met at Stephen and Lorraine’s, when our exploration of the interaction of arts and faith was facilitated by Simon Marsh with background percussion of water overflowing into a pond…..”

The (overflowing) River of Life
sculpture by Stephen Broadbent
at Warrington at the site of a terrorist bomb explosion
which killed two children.

There were so many good things, including a wonderful rendition of The Rose by Simon (spoken, not sung), and, we discovered a “surplus of meaning” as we joined our own creative endeavours to those of others. Surplus of meaning doesn’t mean that there is too much – rather, there is so much. The meaning of our insulation block sculptures co-mingled with the meaning given to them by others, with meaning pinned to meaning. Of course, Ricoeur was right. There is a surplus meaning as one meaning gives itself to another, transforming itself in the giving. Nothing we can do, or create can provide an adequate container for our meaning. Meaning is so abundant it has to overflow. It overflows into convivial and meaningful community, good times, great company.

There are, though, those in whom there is no sense of meaning – including some in this emerging network who described the meaninglessness of past experiences. Is this where art and faith come together, making sense when we are oppressively or depressively crushed?

Simon Marsh and Sarah Anderson have both posted on the Arts and Faith launch.

2 thoughts on “Surplus of meaning”

  1. Hi, I am from Australia.Perhaps the situation could be better described using the metaphor of the tower of babel/babble.Which is to say that we are being literally crushed to death (or eaten) by all of our individual and collective towers of babel/babble.Or perhaps that we are now all "living", or more correctly trapped, in a collective TRANCE-"world" created, and kept tightly in place by all of our babblings (or meanings whether secular or so called religious))Which is also to say that we are all effectively sleep-walkers. "Living" in a vast never-ending TV created "Reality" Show. From which there is seemingly no exit, or in which all seeming alternatives are all permutations of the system itself. NO exit!Something is happening and nobody has a clue as to how or why. And every-body conspires to keep the collective trance in place. AGENT SMITH is everyone in their normal dreadful trance-induced sanity.The recent film The Matrix Trilogy was very much about this topic.Where does one find a reliable source of the Red Pill? Or even the courage to take it if was even available.Where does the necessary thresh-hold personality such as NEO come from? And who is capable of recognizing him or her? A thresh-hold personality who somehow in the scheme of things was/is destined to break or dissolve the source or power of the collective trance mind/state at its very root.


  2. Good morning Anonymous of Australia. Good to hear from you – and thanks for your mention of a "threshold personality".Personally, I am very grateful that there is "surplus of meaning" – it indicates buoyancy and abundance. I feel for those who are non-plussed and find meaning so hard to find. Perhaps I need to think again of the warnings of Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes about "meaninglessness".


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