How to Creatively Connect with God? Part One by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
I recently spoke at the Baptist Union of Victoria’s staff retreat and this was the topic that they asked me to chat about. So I thought I would post my notes here for those who are interested.
Firstly: You cannot separate God and Creativity. God is Creative. He is THE creator. Secondly: There are a few major things that stop us connecting with God. One is our theology and understanding of where God is. Another is our dualistic way of thinking about life.
Where is God?
- What is important to him?
- How do we connect with him?
- What is Creativity?
- Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality.
- Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, hidden pathways, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.
- Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.
If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.
Disney call this imagineering. The combination of imagination – coming up with an idea, and engineering – making it happen. So creativity requires the idea and then producing that idea.
One Enemy of Creativity is Containment.
Humanity loves boxes. We like neat easy answers, absolutes, 5 point sermons. We like instructions and logic. We don’t like mess or mystery, we don’t like paradox we don’t like, conundrums.
My advice to you if you truly wish to connect creatively with God is to:
GET OUT OF THE BOX
Why Get out of the Box?
Because we need to ‘perceive things in new ways’.
A common statement that we often hear is “I WANT YOU TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.”
Why because we have a tendency as humans to reduce things to a habit, to bite size neat manageable sound bites. We like order and structure.
In a way this is why the artists, mystics, troubadours and creatives have a head start.
When an Artist or a Creative is told: You need to think outside the box?
They answer “Theres a box?” I DONT DO BOXES
To get out of the box we first have to look at some socially constructed ways of thinking prevent us from perceiving things in new ways.
Where is God?
From our Old Testament theology we have developed what I call ‘elevator God’.
I first heard this term from Dianna Butler Bass. Diana is a prolific writer, speaker, and independent scholar. For many years she has provided invaluable insight on trends and patterns in American religion. Bass sees the mass exodus of people from organised religion as a signal of something more profound: the rise of a revolutionary way of thinking about and relating to God. As she describes it, this spiritual revolution rejects two key components of traditional religious belief:
(1) “vertical theology” that sees God as a distant, transcendent ruler and (2) religious authorities who function as “holy elevators,” mediating the sin-produced gap that exists between God and us.
Elected elevator operator goes to the God on behalf of the people. Moses is a good example of this. Unfortunately we still see this theology today. God is up there we are down here. We send our prayers up in the elevator. If we die we go up to heaven or down to hell.
She has a new book out called . Grounded: Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2015.
When Jesus came he changed all of that. He demonstrated what was important to God and He gave us a new model of how we were to connect with Him.
Jesus made a way for us all to connect with God.
It was no longer vertical access by the elite few. He added to the Shema, what we call the the two great knowings (Rohr): to know God and to know ourselves.
The Shema prayer was so influential and important that Jesus used it as the beginning of His answer to the “greatest commandment” question in Mark 12:28–30
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him,
“Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered,
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
From this we get a picture from Jesus about a few things.
1: The first two commandment of Jesus: 1: To love God, 2: To love others/self.
2: They are connected and interrelated
3: When Jesus came God moved from the Old Testament elevator God perspective of up and out there, to intimately here within us.
He became accessible, reachable.
This is the key to how we connect with God
- How we relate to God reflects on our relationships.
- How we relate to each other reflects on our relationship with God.
- Also the work that we are doing on ourselves, on our inner core relates to both God and others.
That is why Jesus said love our neighbour as our self.
When we Love Others we are connecting with God
When we connect with God it has a direct connection to the world around us
If we love ourselves it has a direct impact on our relationship to God and other.
My good friend and incredible poet Cameron Semmen’s has a line in a poem that he wrote which goes.
If I hate myself, beret myself, underrate myself,
Do I still love my neighbour as I love myself?
So our vision and understanding of ourselves and the health of our souls has a direct impact on how we love others and God.
Another thing that stops us from connecting with God?
Dualism is black and white Thinking.
a. The concept that the world is ruled by the antagonistic forces of good and evil.
b. The concept that humans have two basic natures, the physical and the spiritual.
Dualistic thinking stems from the mistaken belief that we have two basic natures, physical and spiritual (Hirsch).
The body and the mind and both are at conflict.
In our social construct today we create contrary words and this is often necessary for the world we live in: hot cold, fast slow, on off, yes no, good bad.
Very soon we tend to think oppositionally. We like to think in black and white, we don’t do paradox very well.
Dualism is a win loose scenario
So we choose.
And we decide:
Males are better than females.
White is better than black.
Christians are better than muslims.
Collingwood is better than Carlton.
And for most people, once this decision is made, it is amazing the amount of blindness they become capable of.
This is why Jesus makes so much of mercy, forgiveness, grace and love because these are the things that truly represent the gospel of Christ. (Rohr)
In next Mondays post we will move to Part 2 and look at how we live on the edges of our lives which prevents us from connecting with God. We will then begin to look at pathways that help us connect with God and I will also add some exercises so that we can practice this.
Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr
Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution by Dianna Butler Bass
Pray Like a Gourmet by David Brazeel
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