Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Curious Turn

“A Curious Turn” could refer to what happens when I get up too quickly from sitting down. The head spins a little bit sometimes.  It’s the name of the exhibition currently on at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery - “A Curious Turn - Moving, Mechanical Sculpture”.

“In this exhibition, automata sculptures are brought magically to life through a sequence of cogs, cams, cranks and levers.” The cogs, cams, cranks and levers from the most part were hidden from sight. I walked around the exhibition quite amazed at the workmanship – but nothing moved. I hadn’t realised until I was half way around the room that there were buttons to push and levers to turn. It was interactive, but I didn’t know. I had been walking around looking at the sculptures thinking ti would be so much more effective if things moved!

“Visitors will be able to turn, push and crank to see many of the pieces in action” – I don’t always read the instructions!

My favourite exhibit was a row if old men, carved in wood, sitting behind a long desk with little sheets of paper in front of them. Pushing the button they all began to move. One man was yawning, another smoking a cigarette, another scratching his head and so on.  It was very inventive. Long before the cinema took over as entertainment these little mechanical pieces were all the rage.

Push the button or turn the lever and there is an intended action.  For the exhibits there was just the one action. The man smoking didn’t suddenly begin to scratch his head.  The man appearing to write something on the paper didn’t suddenly lean back and begin to yawn. Their individual actions were down to the cogs and cams and cranks assigned to them. They didn’t get to choose how they behaved.

As I was walking around, pushing buttons, turning levers the thought came to mind “Just who is pushing my buttons and turning my levers?”

As much as we say we are free to act as we wish, that’s not always the way it works out. We have accumulated a whole set of prescribed actions in response to various stimuli. Someone insults us? We retaliate. Someone parks in what we consider to be out space in the carpark at work and we grumble. We have our buttons that people push and we have our actions that happen as a result.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

I am not like the automata. I am not wired up to cogs and levers. I am free to choose how to react when someone pushes my buttons. 

The freedom I have isn’t about being given permission to do what I like.  He has dismantled the lever and the buttons, with my cooperation to be released to love and to serve Him, not to love and serve my own interests.  When I choose to misuse the freedom given me, too often I end up binding myself again to the buttons and levers that I was released from in the first place.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  (Gal 5:1)

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