Scripture Union have just released a new interactive game called Guardians of Ancora (www.guardiansofancora.com) but that’s not what this blog post is about. I searched for this game on Google Play but what popped up first were apps for the film Guardians of the Galaxy. This reminded me of going to see it at the cinema, which made me think about trees, standard grade art, mirrors, spray paint, and the creative impulse inside me. I believe this impulse comes from being made in God’s likeness. So as we talk about the fully God and fully human Jesus through this series of blog posts let me think a bit outside the box and describe him in terms of creativity.
Who do you say He is? I say He is…My Creative Impulse.
My birthday was at the start of August last year (in fairness it has been at the start of August every year since I was born!) I was 33. It’s not a particularly auspicious birthday. I didn’t really want a big party. All I wanted to do was go for a meal with my wife at the Hanoi Bike Shop (I’d heard good things and it looked cool on the website. It was ok but probably won’t go back) and go see Marvel’s new film Guardians of the Galaxy (I thoroughly enjoyed this bit of the evening.) One of the characters was called Groot. He is a tree.
So let’s start this blog with Groot. No, to be exact let’s start with trees. No, to be exact let’s start with the creation story in Genesis. No, to be exact let’s start with a small section of the creation story.
“And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”
Genesis 2:9 (well the first half of it)
The writer of Genesis describes trees are both beautiful and practical. I like that.
I’m no expert on the Bauhaus. I’m relying on my memories from studying art at school, so apologies to any art historians if I’m getting this bit wrong. The Bauhaus was a German art school in the early 20th Century. One of their defining principles was that objects should be both beautiful and practical. (I like that.) It rejected the idea that practical things didn’t need to also have an aesthetic beauty.
I believe we let this idea, that the Bauhaus rejected, subconsciously infiltrate our faith communities. We see the physical as less important than the spiritual. The Bauhaus said that a chair is more than just a chair; it can be beautiful too. I’m saying that the spiritual things can be physically beautiful too. Genesis 2:9, well the first half of it, says the same thing too.
The ancient Jewish world was not viewed as something that could be split into the spiritual and the non-spiritual. Everything was spiritual. Everything is spiritual. We do not get to split the physical and the spiritual apart. There are intertwined. As are the beautiful and the practical.
I feel like I’m not being very clear. Let’s look at this from a different angle.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;
Genesis 1:26 (well a bit of it) (NKJV)
The story at the start of Genesis speaks of us being made in the likeness of God. I believe this is more than just us looking like Him. I think it is more to do with us being made in His character. Let’s step back. The whole of the creation narrative in Genesis speaks of a creative God; a God who likes to create. A God who creates both beauty and purpose. (I like that.)
And we are made in His likeness. To some degree we are like a mirror reflecting God. We are made with the same qualities as God Himself. It is in us to create. We are in our essence creative beings. We are creatures (that which is created) and creators (that which creates.) Both beauty and purpose.
I believe we are all creative. I believe some of us find that creativity in visual arts, while others find it in other formats (music, business, film making, textiles, talking, teaching, caring, design, acting, preaching, gardening, upcycling, technology, writing, list making……..the list goes on and on.) I’m most at home with some old wood, some stencils and a few cans of spraypaint (my personal preference is Montana if anyone is interested.) I love to create something beautiful. I also love to create something which has a purpose.
I believe the best art says something. I believe art can exist to be beautiful. I have no issue with that…………..…but………………..…the art which interests me most is art that starts a conversation or tells a story or asks a questions or makes me feel uncomfortable or challenges me or gets under my skin or makes me see the world afresh or makes me stop or makes me cry or makes me angry or….you get the idea. I love art with some purpose.
I believe art helps us see the world in a new way. It helps us see a better future. It helps us see the Kingdom of God coming into the day to day of our lives. It’s why I love to create art. It’s why it is part of our plans as a church to explore the various artistic projects which are furthering the Kingdom of God throughout Scotland and to be inspired by them in our own context. It’s why one of our housegroups at the Rock is designed for those who wanted to explore the arts and faith. It is our desire to both reflect His beauty and to live with purpose.
This post has felt like a bit or a ramble through my head. I’m aware my head isn’t always the most clear and linearly logical place. (Perhaps thinking in loops and swirls and tangents is part of thinking creatively?) So, hopefully this post has made some sense. Hopefully it has had some beauty. Hopefully it has had some purpose. Hopefully it hasn’t gone over your head.
(If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, hopefully that last sentence made you smile. “My reflexes are too fast. I will catch it.”)
This blog post was brought to you by....Oli Higham
Oli Higham is part of the leadership team at the Rock Community Church. He finds it hard to sum himself up in a few sentences. However he loves Jesus and is also rather fond of his family, films, coffee, rugby, Arsenal FC, poetry, spray paint, beards, cooking and laughing.