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Teacher promotes deep philosophy

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The basic themes of the two movements are similar. Both advocate bringing the unconscious to conscious awareness, transcending ordinary reality through creativity and tapping dreams for inspiration. Reynolds says the Surrealists were interested in "acting out, getting together to rage against corruption using absurdity," while he advocates recognizing the shadow side as it exists on all levels, within each person as well as in society.

"They were right to speak out against what they saw," he says. "But if you want peace out there, you have to have peace in here."

His movement goes beyond Surrealism in other ways. Reynolds connects his philosophy to ecological awareness, consciousness of higher beings and a cosmology that embraces ancient mysticism as well as newly patterned constellations.

Reynolds says music and teaching are part of his calling. He merges the two in his work with creativity. A songwriter for 30 years and a teacher in Berea schools for 23 years, he is also an adjunct professor at Ashland University, where he instructs teachers in creativity studies and teaches songwriting to gifted youth at the Summer Honors Institute. His research has led him to publish five papers and speak at professional conferences around the country with the encouragement of his wife, Paula, and children, Isaac, 19, and Ana, 15.

Reynolds doesn't mention Urrealism to his students, but the concepts are a core part of his teaching. A final project in his French class is called a "show." The students each have a session for a personal display. As the students talk about what the items they've brought mean and answer their classmates' questions in French, they begin to see a theme mirrored, often symbolically, in the ephemera chosen. "They look at it from all angles, all aspects," Reynolds says. "You can see the archetypes emerging."

At the end, each class member bestows on the student a different name based on gifts they have seen, poetically calling out a life purpose. "What I'm really doing with the kids is empowering them to see each other with the eyes of God," Reynolds says, "with the eyes of Spirit."

For 23 years, he has been meeting after school with students in a program called Creativity Inc. They work together writing music and speaking through art. For eight years, these students have had their performances professionally recorded. Reynolds isn't aware of another high school in this part of the country that offers a CD of original student work, but there's little public notice.

"We put a show on, not too many people come," he says. "That's how it is. Everybody says they like creativity, but when the chips are down, it's three people. That's Urrealism."

Actually, two people are all it takes to be in Urreality. As Reynolds says in the Urrealist Manifesto (www.urrealist.com), "Urreality exists where there is a conversation done sincerely, in a spirit of loving balance with some art form." He doesn't take a limited view of art. He includes any form of creativity approached with passion.

One way that Reynolds takes the "art answers art" principle of Urrealism out into the streets is through teach-ins. For example, several years ago, he spent time with the Berea Knitting League. Later, he wrote a song in response. The league members came to his next concert, and he asked them to come up and talk about their art. They sat with him, knitting, as he played that song.

"I let the whole picture stay," he says. "The song just gives people access to the gift."

The potential to respond to inspiration with creation is linked, for Reynolds, with what he terms Ur-constellations. From ancient times, he says, "The idea has been that the starry heavens are a moving image of the eternal. That means that when your knowledge of the universe expands, it brings with it the potential for a similar expansion of psychology and spirituality."

It's all there in his music.

The evening's concert ends with a rousing song. "This has been an artist's action," Reynolds says after the final note. A child who had been dancing to his music doesn't want to leave. Her cries echo in the gathering darkness. The canvas with gold painted Ur-constellations shines in the streetlights.

Weldon is a free-lance writer in Litchfield Township. Send comments about this story to religion@plaind.com.

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