Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rube Goldberg Machine Worship

What would a worship service centered around building a Rube Goldberg Machine look like? That's what I asked Joseph Herscher, a Williamsburg resident and international builder of Rube Goldberg Machines, including this one:

Considering that these machines are notoriously complex, what we came up with is actually quite simple. The congregation would read a passage of scripture together. Then they would break up into small groups of 2-4 people. In these small groups people would share reflections and personal stories  that have resonance or dissonance with the passage.

Each group would then be given a large pin-board mounted on a stage flat. Every pin-board would have an identical pre-set beginning and ending connection of a Rube Goldberg Machine, along with a marble that the group has to get from that beginning to that ending. Here's an illustration of the template that a small group would start with:

(the blue ball is the marble, which is resting on a level attached to a string connect to a cup that is precariously placed so that when a marble rolls into it, it will fall, tugging on the string, lowering the level and releasing the marble on the next pin-board)

The small group's goal is to create a small segment of Rube Goldberg Machine on their pin-board. Each individual's reflection on the scripture should somehow be represented on the pin-board in a way that connects to the other individuals' reflections and allows the marble to travel from point A to point B.

The basic materials out of which the groups would build would be cardboard and pins, but tape, glue guns, dowels, pipe cleaners, wire, plastic cups, and other random objects would be supplied. To give you a sense of what a pin-board Rube Goldberg Machine looks like, check out this other video by Joseph Herscher:

This process would reoccur over the course of several weeks (maybe the length of a liturgical season), at the end of which, all the pin-boards would be connected to make one giant Rube GoldbergMachine. Each individual's stories would thus be connected to their small group's stories, which would be connected to the whole congregation's stories, which, in the form of this absurd machine, would embody God's story alive in our community. I'm excited to try it!

If you'd like a Rube GoldbergMachine for your gallery, museum, and/or event anywhere in the world, contact Joseph Herscher, he's great to work with!

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