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designing manifestos

Posted on by tyler



i often think, back in the nether regions of my wee brain, about the design of social structures, social institutions, relationships or however you might describe something like "the church" in a general christian sense or "anarchism" in an applied and everyday sense. recently in the visual advocacy class at kcai some of the students have been working on manifestos, which i view as perhaps a personal version of the aforementioned structures/institutions. the manifesto can easily scale with few modifications to serve larger groups of people. i believe the same process applies to both individual and society in that principals and beliefs are the starting points and actions are (or should be) the direct outgrowth of that. "i believe this way and therefore i will act in this manner". easy enough in theory

what spurred this post was the rediscovery in one of the many piles in my house of a photocopy entitled "radical principles: 10 declarations of the radical church". it's a chapter out of this book called "the global house church movement" it is very much a manifesto (if that is your preferred term) in that it makes declarations and backs them up with a rationale. i think what draws me to documents like this is that someone has enough backbone to actually say "i believe this and i'm going to stake out some territory around it, and here's why". maybe i'm wrong, but i don't think that happens very much. i just think it's important to have an opinion on things like how one wants to run their life

there are a lot of things i really like about the "radical principles" document that make strong connections between christian living (following jesus through living in love) and -- okay, i'll say it -- anarchist living. and by anarchist i mean non-hierarchical, non-coercive relationships determined by free association. anyway, a few examples

declaration 2:
we declare an apostolic heritage vs man-made institution

just saying how humans have built up these useless structures that are actually non-biblical and detrimental to living a genuine faith. we need to get back to the basics of apostolic christianity.

declaration 4:
we declare a grassroots church vs state-church partnership

stating how the comingling of state and church interests often results in oh-so-joyous things like military/religious crusades, inquisitions, persecutions, and have totally ruined christianity's real meaning for most people. as a side note, this one really really frustrates me personally because i feel that what people most often reject God because of the idiocy of his followers. what they are rejecting is not really God, but man-made institutions that soil His name and intentions for us.

well, this document goes on to declare things like "citywide church vs denominations", "common people vs holy clergy", "common meetings vs holy rituals", "common homes vs holy buildings", "common days vs holy days", and "common goods vs holy fees". yes, those are radical notions compared to our normal conception of "the church", and i like it. yes, i like it (fiendish wringing of hands goes here).

i suppose this is design in that there is an end goal (peaceful, loving relationships or what-have-you) and you put together a plan to achieve it (the manifesto, in this case). it obviously differs from graphic design in that the results are not visual but actions. i think the two can, and should, inform each other. i just wanted to comment on this because i enjoy thinking about the relationships of scale between individual and collective beliefs, statements of belief, application / manifestation of beliefs, and how all that can be done in a deliberate and empowering way. it's just really interesting to ponder how we might set up a few strong and meaningful principles that have profound consequences for how we live our lives individually and in relation to one another.