To Mend the World: a confluence of theology and the arts

The sixteenth-century Jewish mystic, Isaac Luria, made much of the notion of tikkun olam, a phrase which we might translate as ‘to mend the world’. Luria believed that the Creator of all things, in deciding to create a world, drew in – contracted – the divine breath in order to make room for the creation coming into being. In this enlarged space, the Creator then set vessels and poured into them the radiance of the divine light. But the light was too brilliant for the vessels, causing them to shatter and scatter widely. Since then, the vocation given to human person has consisted of picking up and to trying to mend or refashion the shards of creation.

Tikkun olam is also the theme of a conference and exhibition that I’m involved in organising, and which will take place in Dunedin this July. It is shaping up to be a very exciting twin-project, with an impressive line-up of speakers and artists. Registration for the conference has exceeded expectation for this stage so far out from the date, is still open, and there’s still some time to get in on the ‘early-bird’ rate.


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