Saturday, March 06, 2010

the curse of creativity: all those voices in my head

I am creative.

It took me many years to discover this. When I was 13, I went from 29th, out of 29 students, in the compulsory music class at the start of the year, to 28th equal at the end of the year. Since creativity was linked to music and art, and at the age of 13 I couldn’t sing, strum nor draw, I realised I was not creative.

It took me many years to recognise I actually was creative, and to begin to re-right (pun intended) the voices in my head.

The realisation began to dawn as I began to write sermons. Firstly, I found I was loving the writing – the crafting of words, the building of rhythm – the creative task. Secondly, I started to realise the curse of creativity. When I started writing sermons too early, I kept wanting to fiddle, change, re-create them. They felt boring once they’d sat on the shelf for a day or three. Such was the curse, the need to feel my material was fresh, connective and so something I could get passionate about.

This week I am participating in Spirit of Wonder, what should be a great week that will mix multisensory multimedia, worship, conversation and creative input. I have been asked to speak two times, once on creativity and leadership (on Tuesday) and again on Spirit and culture and creativity (on Thursday).

And I am facing the curse of creativity.

You see, 18 months ago I wrote a presentation that directly addressed the Thursday topic, on Spirit and culture and creativity. 12 months ago I turned that into a book chapter. This week the book, with my chapter, has been published and my copy should arrive any day. It’s a big deal!

The book has been called a work of “outstanding scholarship”; “profoundly theological and sometimes provactively challenging”; “scripturally responsible, historically informed.” And my chapter exactly addresses the topic I’ve been asked to speak to on Thursday.

But in my head, it’s like 18 months old. Boring. Dated. Such is the curse of creativity.

I’ve tried to play with it – considered using godly play, written a new introduction – twice, sought a new integrative metaphor – and nothing clicks. The chapter stands now as it stood, than, as a fine piece of work that makes sense best when presented as written.

But it’s still so long ago, so dated, so 2008 ….

Posted by steve at 05:14 PM


  1. Wodnerful post – thanks for this and congrats on what you’ve written – return to the same theme but celebrate what you have already said. Look forward to reading it too!

    Comment by jane — March 6, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  2. you sound a lot better prepared than me then!

    Comment by jonny — March 6, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  3. Hey Steve,
    Wow…. apart from the specifics of your story this week, you’ve put some of my own reflections into words… and summed up the reason I didn’t do ‘Art’ beyond Year 7… but wish I had… and how I excuse stuff often as “my version of creativity” in case I need to apologise for it… Hmmn,

    Why not accidentally forget your notes and have to present ‘off the cuff’?

    Hope it all goes well this week!! Wish I could have made space to be there…

    Comment by Rob Hanks — March 8, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  4. Rob,
    I took your advice. I threw away my notes and prepared ot speak to by ppt.

    Only to forget my computer. Duh! including all my work on various art images.!

    so it was off the cuff like totally!


    Comment by steve — March 11, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  5. Maybe your “work on various art images” was meant for your blog audience? (Pretty please!!!)

    Comment by Ingrid — April 14, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  6. Ingrid,

    Thanks for your interest. I’m never sure of copyright (not just legal but moral) in relation to the internet. So rather than post them, can I simply say they were

    “Allegory of the Transfiguration” by Saint Apollinaire – in which the three persons of the Trinity are present: the Father in the hand, the Son in the cross, the Spirit in the thin clouds that surround the Son.

    “The Transfiguration” by Andrea Previtali, in which similarly the Father is present in the cloud and speaking via the scroll, while the Spirit is considered present in the symbol of the dove.

    I use the art to then argue that in sum, the Spirit might be anonymous in the text of Luke 9:28-36, but remains present according to art. In other words, anonymity is not the same as absence.

    By extension, we can look for God in the world, who might be anonymous, but need to be absent.

    This is developed in the chapter I wrote for the book Spirit of Truth (source on my sidebar).


    Comment by steve — April 14, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  7. Reminds me of the book of Esther, where God is never mentioned…Anyway I did enjoy your art interpretation earlier on. I’m always on the look-out for image descriptions. There does not seem to be that much when it comes to Biblical paintings, or I just don’t know where to look.

    Comment by Ingrid — April 14, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

  8. Ingrid, have you seen

    it’s got a huge catalogue of art in relation to Biblical texts? Book wise Imaging the Word (3 vols) is also superb.


    Comment by steve — April 15, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  9. Thanks for that!

    Comment by Ingrid — April 15, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

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