Thu 13 October 2016
Welcome to the god(s) project. Let’s start with 3 things:
Hong Kong ranks as one of the top 10 most religiously diverse places in the world. Religious freedom is our fundamental right under the Basic Law, and it’s one of the reasons why various faith communities in Hong Kong continue to thrive. In a time when that right isn’t universally upheld or respected, it becomes even more crucial to remember that this is something of immense importance, that cannot be compromised.
But aside from daily passing a temple, shrine, mosque or church, there are few opportunities to hear about the real, human experiences that are nestled in those spaces. Each faith holds a story about its arrival on the shores of our city, but it also carries millions of memories within each believer as they learn to chart their path.
I want to explore how these memories weave into a texture of faith - the kind of faith that encourages you to live your life larger, in more expansive, more infinite ways. I want to know what it looks like, feels like and invokes in each person across different spiritualities. The faith vs. reason dichotomy has always seemed too easy, and the explanations of faith as a feeling or instinct haven’t felt complete either.
You should also know that the motivation behind creating the god(s) project is somewhat selfish in nature.
The seeds were planted in an ocean of Post-Its one evening, in a tenuous attempt to map out the pockets that could create or shape meaning in life. I had returned to Hong Kong from working overseas the year before, and even though I was already nine months into the city I called home, everything still felt uncertain and in flux. As I categorized the Post-Its by importance, faith/spirituality floated to the top and decided to stay there.
This wasn’t too surprising. I had attended Alpha (a crash course on Christianity) twice, was taking tours at mosques, sitting in on Quaker meetings and listening to songs at a Baha’i gathering. They were all ways of trying to get at why people carved out time in their already frenetic Hong Kong lives to devote to something that didn’t seem to provide immediate tangible benefits - and I wanted to know why.
So it’s this ongoing life-sorting process, as well as a total obsession with people’s stories in faith, that has spurred the creation of the god(s) project. I’m not trying to draw any big, grand conclusions about religion here; rather, it’s a small window into someone’s particular experience, wrapped up in a love letter to Hong Kong.
I hope you enjoy it. And I’m looking forward to hearing what you think. Huge thanks to Tegan Smyth and Kenji Morimoto for all their researching help and support through it all.Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Next