Friday 30 April 2021

Creativity and Christianity - in Traditional compared with Romantic Christianity

The can be a conflict between creativity and Christianity - in the sense that being a Christian can be experienced as a constraint and inhibition on creative work. 

This has been experienced especially since the Romantic Era (from the late 1700s) - and some of those geniuses (and others) who were most deeply committed to their creative work (whether in arts or sciences) made 'a religion' from their creative work - took it with the utmost seriousness and made great sacrifices. 

In the 20th century, indeed, it became usual for the greatest creative geniuses to be raised as Christians (or sometimes as Jews) and then to reject Christianity in favour of a kind of 'Genius as Hero' ideology. 

Creativity and Christianity began to be seen as antagonists - since if a genius put his work first it seemed to mean putting Christianity second, which is not to be a Christian at all... 

Yet it was Christianity that sustained the greatest works of genius. And being raised in a religion seems all-but vital to serious creative work; so that when society became thoroughly atheist - creative genius all-but disappeared and is by now undiscerned, disvalued and even suppressed. 

This because without a basis in 'the transcendental'; creativity becomes subordinated to expediency - careerism, money or status seeking etc. 

It seems that unless a genius 'understands' his work to be contributing to divine creation (and this 'understanding is usually implicit) - then he will not give that work the effort and priority which the highest achievement requires. 

So the relationship between Christianity and creativity has become complex. This is because very few people have been raised as serious Christians over the past few generations; spontaneous, un-conscious Christianity is a thing of the past. 

As of 2021 serious Christians are, in effect, adult converts - because in a secular society even serious cradle Christians will need to make at least one (often more) renewed conscious commitments to their faith.  

To be a creative person and to convert to Christianity as an adult can be a significant challenge to creativity. Because when an adult converts he is (nearly always) converting to a particular church or denomination; with a complex framework of rules and expectations. 

Converts are held to a higher standard than cradle church members - and are usually required to make vows and promises of a rigorous and binding nature. 

So the creative Man who becomes a Christian typically finds himself having made a serious commitment to work from-within a detailed and rigorous framework of constraints and expectations. 

This framework of Christian (denominational) practice, doctrine, theology and authority may well interfere with his established creative practices. He may feel his thinking repeatedly bumping-against boundaries - to cross which would seem to take him beyond orthodoxy and obedience. 

He may well feel himself creatively confined - and, at the extreme, may feel safe only when repeating that which has been said before; ringing changes rather than being truly original... 

Consequently, his work may lose its spontaneity, distinctiveness, energy and flow -  it may become second rate, derivative, un-creative.   

I interpret this from the perspective of the changing nature of human consciousness; and that Romanticism ought to usher-in a new way of being Christian that is ultimately based on shared motivation and alignment of creative work, rather than an explicit and external framework of rules. 

The creative Christian (ideally) ought to be working-from, rather than working-towards; working-from the basis of sharing the Christian priority of love. Creating is something that should come from a base of commitment; rather than something that operates inside a framework. 

The hope of Heaven is based upon a commitment to live eternally by love, in Heaven; and to embrace the transformation that is resurrection which makes this possible for Men.

So the Romantic understanding of Heaven is a place where love overflows into creating - a place where our 'work' is co-creating with God; as was the case with primary divine creation when it was the love of God was the cause of Creation in the first place.


In other words; Romantic Christianity aims to make genuine, innate and endogenous personal creativity one important way of being a good Christian, a taste of Heaven itself - rather than an incipient source of conflict. 

And this 'works' by aiming at a harmony derived from a basis in love rather than from a set of rule. 

As so often, the loving family provides the best analogy (which is, indeed, more than analogy!); because the family is supposed to attain harmony not primarily by adherence to a framework of practices and rules; but instead from the mutual love of its members. 

Family members are aligned by having the same aims (so they are pointing in the same direction) and then by mutual concern for the other members: a fluid kind of adjustment which is experienced as the voluntary desire to remain in harmony and to help other members in their own loving and creative endeavors.

If creativity is understood in this fashion; then it is indeed optimal from the creative perspective. Instead of Christianity being felt as constraint, it instead provides meaning. 

After all, real creativity is not solipsistic, it is done for the creator alone. Creativity must ultimately be be for others; it needs an 'audience' who will understand, appreciate and use the creative work. 

Romantic Christianity looks towards a world in which everyone is a creator and also audience; and where creator and audience are united by the divine purpose and harmonized in their work by their commitment to love. 

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