Creativity: it's good theology
By Deb Pollex
When the word “creativity” is brought up, most likely the Church isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, even though creativity and art played a crucial role in its history. Unfortunately the Reformation and the enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries led to a distrust of emotional or sensory experiences. The Church soon distanced itself from most creative expressions although the Bible has stories about textiles, sculpture, craftsmanship, dance, poetry, music etc. The gospel is a narrative story. It’s told by different people, and it’s told through different means at different times.
Singer and musician Kenyon Adams said, “The purpose of art and religion are the same; transformation.” For Kenyon, creativity creates a doorway that, when stepped into, takes us to a new place where transformation is able to happen. When the church detached itself from creativity, we lost that powerful means of transformation. Creativity can be an effective and energetic tool in the body of Christ with amazing potential to communicate deep truths and impact lives in deeply intimate ways. The way creativity does this can be quite mystifying, we can’t possibly understand or even identify all the diverse ways a heart, a soul, undergoes change.
The Bible starts out with, “In the beginning, God created.” And then God places man and women in the world “created in God’s image” with the ability to think, feel, and also create. Possibly when we are creating this is when we are most like our heavenly Creator! Creativeness and imagination has a way of resonating with our emotions. We humans are emotional beings, so should our relationship with the sacred be just intellectual or theoretical?
Through the years I’ve experienced over and over the reality that words are not enough. For many people the message only comes alive when it is embodied in a tangible form. Rhetoric often doesn’t have the same transformative power as touching, smelling, moving, or creating. Touchable and concrete experiences become ingrained in our minds and our hearts in a way that words can’t always do. Since we were created in God’s image, I believe creating is part of who we are, a gift from God. Creativity is not just something for the professionals and it's not restricted to plopping paint on canvas or composing a song. We're all artists, we're all creative spirits in life. It might be hard to accept as true but we do all have creativity within us.
Repeatedly the response I hear when I encourage people to consider creativity as part of spirituality is: “I have no talent or gifts to be creative.” Much of this belief arises from the times we’ve been told to “stay in the lines,” or “you can't do it that way” or the old “it's never been done that way before.” Well, think about this; God created 350,000 species of beetles and God created the platypus. Evidently God likes variety and uniqueness!
I invite you to embrace your God given creative spirit. Today. Now. You can pick up a colored pen, pencil or crayon when you’re finished reading and draw a prayer, or write out your prayer in different colors, or copy a favorite scripture and illustrate it. Start small, let go of any judging of what unfolds and trust in the spiritual power of human creativity.