An Idea! (part II)

We’ll start by beginning to gather the five questions we finished with and making some possible links between them.

I think the first question, ‘who are ‘artists’?’, is a key question.

At the heart of this is who is creative? What makes some people creative and others not? The research that showed that the same act of recalling our episodic memory is similar to the act of imagining future episodes and creating a construct in our ‘mind’s eye’ show some correlation between the act of remembrance and creativity. In remembering an incident or episode we are involved in a creative act. Our brains are being creative. As human beings, therefore, in any act of remembering, recalling past events, we are being creative. I would suggest we are all, naturally, creative. There is, of course, some extreme cases of damage to this part of our brain where people can’t remember but, on the whole, we are creative.

In Genesis we read that God made us in His image. What this means is a massive concept but I want to draw on the creativity of God. I believe God created everything, He constructed it in His mind (if He had one) and constructed it in reality… wow the complexity is frightening! As humans we have been given the faculty, from God, to do likewise. His first command to us is to go forth and multiply…create. Now, creation of a child does not take any brain activity. When most people approach sex they don’t imagine the future child! God, however, seems to give humanity a special task of managing and subduing creation, this is a creative act. God asks us to be creative with His world to adapt it and grow it. The term ‘bara’ used in the creation narrative is the verb ‘to create’ and it is only used with God as the subject. Only God can ‘create’. As humans we are able to re-create. The research seems to suggest that we have an innate creativity in all of us.

For some this is easier than for others but I don’t think we can divide up humanity into those who are creative and those who aren’t. All of us are creative and all of us are able to be part of a creative act.
This may answer the second question, ‘how is the act of remembrance connected with creativity?’, and goes on to connect with this understanding of exile as ‘fertile ground’.

When we go into exile we are forced to participate in an act of collective recollection. This is an act of creativity. A group of people are forced to be creative and, therefore, participate in an act of humanity ‘made in the image of God’ and, therefore, are imitating God.

This may then answer the question, ‘Why does God seem to turn up in the time of exile?’ God turns up in exile when we start to, by recalling and being creative, etc., act in a way that is God-like.

This all has massive implications in the original question, ‘how does the church connect with ‘displacement deniers’?’.

I have for some time felt called to ‘artists’ and in particular theatre artists. This category has been extended as my understanding seems to be that all people are creative and therefore artists. This is un-helpful for me. My definition needs to be addressed. Artists must be restricted to describe a person who engages in art, a certain type of creative act. Everyone is able to engage with art but some choose not to and others do. Artists (those who choose to engage with art) tend to be more spiritually aware than those who do not choose to engage with art. Is art, therefore, key to spiritual awareness?

I’d like to suggest that it is and if we take this on board, with the body of evidence given previously, then to engage those people who deny their spiritual side we need to engage them in artistic endeavour for a
period of time.

Why is it some people don’t like art? There must be a hundred and one reasons why some people don’t but I’d like to be naive and suggest there is a fear or confusion as to how one engages in art. I need to look into this area!

What if the way we, as the church, connect with ‘displacement deniers’ is to put them into exile? Put them into a place where they are forced to recall the past, ache for home, emotionally engage with episodic recollection? Exile is the place where stories are told. Story-telling the basic creative act; it’s the act where we consciously recall episodes. When we do this we are also able then to imagine future constructions and be ‘creative’ and produce art; painting, theatre, music, etc. It is in this act of creativity that in some mysterious way God appears and/or we become aware of our spiritual life.

In my placement I’m excited by what we are discovering together about how we are creative, the correlation between nostalgia, exile and community… Thank you God for beginning this journey and thank you for bringing me such creative people to explore with.


  1. Lots of interesting thoughts. I don’t go along with you in everything but i find what your saying interesting. I think i’d probably challenge what you mean about art and creativity. I would say that all people are creative/artistic the question is how this is articulated: through drawing, drama, music, writing, cooking, planning journeys, scoring the best possible goal on fifa on the xbox, computer programming, mathematics, etc.

    Meanwhile what you say about memory and creativity is intriguing. I would look to the case of post 1945 germany and the issue of collective memory/collective guilt and how generation of artists and poets have articulated that sense of “what is there to say now” and “who am i knowing what i know and who i know”.

    Interesting stuff.

    1. Thanks Tim,

      I think you’re right that my definition of creativity and art is weak and needs more thought. I guess there’s a difference in the creativity of problem solving, imagining a future event or possible outcome of action and art which is an articulate expression of emotion based on experience. Creativity, therefore, maybe the ability to use recollection of an episode to aid the creation of future constructs in the mind. Art is an expression of emotional memory both felt in the past and imagined. Stanislavsky, theatre practitioner, talks about emotional memory being needed to faithfully express characters emotions on stage; thus he suggests actors go and experience the pain, joy, guilt, pride of a character’s life.

      Post German collective guilt, I would suggest, is the same task of collective remembering as Remembrance Day. I was struck this year how awful that day must be for those who perpetrated the holocaust. Exile is not only a place where you recall happy times of ‘home’ but also a place where you mist face the pain of mistakes and self denial,etc. Ezekiel is full of recollections of both individual and collective misuses of religion, power and blessing. He faces upto some painful memories and this is a place of creativity as well.

      Thanks for your insights. I’ll put them into the mixing pot that is my brain!


  2. is a new unconference for creative types inspired by the popular local tech unconference . Our vision is that participants of various Cre8Camps in different metro areas will consider attending this annual gathering to engage with each other and with some world-class creative keynoters for some national level networking. Today the traditional lines dividing creatives and developers is becoming exceedingly blurry.

    1. Hi Gene,

      I think there’s a real correlation between the unconference of the tech world and the wider world as well. I’m struck by the idea that those who finally name an idea get the praise but there were people before who helped them with parts of it and they are people who, creatively, picture the vision. Thus collective memory is the same as collective imagining. To grab a vision is to be creative.


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