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On January 6th of 2018, I asked my readers to assign me an article, and I would write it. I received a response from a reader, Ann Carlton, who said:

“How can creativity in shared interests with others (not necessarily spiritual) lead to conversations about God?”

This is the article in which I respond to your request, Ann. Aware, I am sure, that I myself am an artist, this may be Ann’s motivation behind the question.


A bit of my art

In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, author C.S. Lewis writes: 

“Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side”. He goes on to say, “In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — ‘Bibles laid open, millions of surprises’, as Herbert say, ‘fine nets and stratagems’. God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.” 

Lewis was an anomaly of Christian writers and thinkers down through the years in that he is as well known for his creative fiction which is, to this day, still fully able to grab the attention of a young child and hold it from The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe all the way until The Last Battle; but also, he is known for his deep, yet easily-grasped writing on the subject of Christian Apologetics.

 To Lewis, the two were practically inseparable.  Lewis’ theory of literary criticism is that a successful author taps into some kind of eternal themes that are instinctively imbued into the reader by that reader’s Creator. Sort of the echoes of the image of God created into that person. An author, says Lewis, is successful when she or he communicates with the audience at a deeper level. So Lewis says, “the maxim that an author should never conceive himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody in terms of his own art some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom.” 

In point of fact, it is difficult to make the case that humans are simply and wholly the product of mindless processes, and then to explain why the pursuit of art and beauty remains one of the strongest motivators of human behavior – indeed, civilization.

So how may one use creativity in sharing the Christian worldview? The first step is simply to engage a person in sharing their creative interests. Practically everyone is creative at one level or another. Some like drawing, others like music, others like poetry and others like crafting by hand. Even the most analytical and mechanical of people still want to take something that comes from their mind and turn it into a reality, whether that thing be a painting, a mechanism or a piece of computer code: humans are an inherently creative creatures.

Moreover, the desire to create is one of the deepest and most definitive aspects of human nature. Take a sales clerk and ask them what they do, and they may tell you that they are a sales clerk; but then ask them “no, but what do you do?” and they will confess that what they really are is a model train hobbyist.

Once you have done a person the courtesy of listening to who they truly are in their innermost creator, proceed to ask them how they came to be a creator. Get their origin story. Likely you will hear of the way in which the interest was drawn out of them. Not given to them, but revealed within them. Someone scratched the surface of a child and discovered an inventor lurking beneath.

Any person given the opportunity to discuss the creator within will be grateful to the other person who showed the interest. It is at this point that they may do you the courtesy of giving ear to a bit about your creativity. Share yours as it relates to theirs. Never draw the focus entirely away from them, but after you have connected your interest to theirs, connect it to your God.

If there is a creator within you, it was placed there by the Creator. Indeed, your creativity is only given meaning and purpose within a universe which, itself, has meaning and purpose. Assure your friend that their creations are not trivial and worthless, but are given worth, because they are performed within an intentional universe. While their poetry, paintings and software may fade and be forgotten, or perhaps never recognized in the first place, their inner creator is recognized and given meaning insofar as it is valued by the one who spawned it.

You, the Christian, do all things – including create – to the Glory of God. God is eternal, and all things done for him are given eternal meaning. This is an attractive thought to any creator – that the thing they do which defines them may be the identity they carry into eternity; and that every creative act they have done is priceless because it is adored by its audience: God himself.

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