In March 2016 I was honoured to be the MC at the inaugural meeting of SPARC Justice in Melbourne.
The Key note speakers for this one day event were Ken Wytsma and Wynand De Kock.
Ken Wystma is a leader, innovator and social entrepreneur.
A thought leader on topics on Justice, human rights and non profit leadership, Ken is the founder of The Justice Conference, an annual international conference on biblical justice.
He is the founding pastor of Antioch Church and president of Kilns College where he teaches courses on philosophy, justice and creative leadership.
Author and blogger he is known for his depth of insight and into life and faith.
Wynand De Kock
As an Afrikaner he became aware of the injustice of the Apartheid system and chose to devote his life to create opportunities through education for the politically marginalised.
He has served in various roles as an educator including being Dean and Principal of private higher education providers. An author and international speaker Wynard has a great love of the arts, enjoys painting and encourages people to make space for life.
The keynote session that Ken and Wynand shared was on the topic of ‘Generous Creativity’. I was so immersed in taking notes that I almost forgot the cue to end the session and thank our speakers. lol… Here is a transcript of the notes that I took. I hope that you find it as fascinating as I did. My apologies that I can’t give you and exact draft or recording of the session.
One of the major problems that we have when it comes to creativity and the arts is that we don’t actually have a ‘Theology of Creativity’.
We live in a world filled with anxious people. The church is changing which is an interesting scenario but this is causing anxiety. Also – because of globalisation and social media we are all deeply deeply anxious ‘all of us’. There is a deep latent anxiety in people and we don’t have a language to speak to it.
There is however faith. Faith speaks to anxiety.
God has given us faith and creativity to navigate life.
Creativity helps us to navigate this space. The fullness of the love that the creator has for us steadies us. Jesus does not desire an anxious life for us. He wants our lives to look like a well watered garden. He wants us to experience Shalom which means peace and flourishing. Space and time to flourish. Shalom is the way that things ‘ought’ to be.
Wynand begins with a philosophical statement: a notion.
There was a time when there wasn’t time as we know it. There was only God.
Then God said let us make …..
God was the space
God was the time
God said – What if?
God dwells in space and in time which is why we need to make space for life.
Everyone, every human being has the right to flourish in spacious time. That is justice.
If you create space for life, you will automatically be doing justly and mercy.
Creativity is to have space for life.
The story of the fall is a story of anxiety. The human condition is a story of separation: of separation from God. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that life happens at any cost.
But when we are separated from the core of our being we are anxious.
Look at the bottom of the food chain. Rabbits, rodents, birds, they are waiting to be eaten by predators. They are constantly anxious.
There is a global anxiety that drives us, it always has. It comes from the need to protect what we already have, to protect our place in society, to not loose it to something more powerful. It is a predator mentality.
White Policy – Anxiety
America Donal Trump – Anxiety
Colonialisation – is a result of white people being anxious – trying to protect their rights of supremacy and the quest for more and more – predator behaviour
Apartheid – is a result of white people being anxious of their perfect theology.
We live in the Truman show.
Brutality, poverty, racism leave no space for life.
In South Africa it was the perfect doctrine that was tyrannising the nation. Perfect doctrine suffocates you. It sucks the air out of a room. The belief that there is a perfect answer, a perfect doctrinal response. Our way or the highway.
The way forward is to start asking questions. The way to make space for life is through questions. Sacred questions.
Martin Luther asked questions. Jesus is not offended by questions.
Why do we struggle with questions? Why……. because we are fundamentally anxious. Answers and perfect doctrines are easier….we say, lets not rock the boat, let’s just stay here.
“Faith is the courage to be” – Paul Tillich
Creativity requires courage: it requires the courage to ask questions and not be worried if you are wrong. New questions create space for life.
We need to be able to hold the tension lightly and say: “This is just a new answer and I’m not going to go to war over it”.
Lloyd Alexander: “We learn more by looking for the answer to a question”.
The trinity got together and said: “let us make man in our image”. Let us create and in doing that, extend our community. God makes space and relationship.
God created us in his image and we are always on the hunt to be the perfect human. “What is the best that I can be?” The great irony is we are always deficient when we are on our own. We only find ourselves in communities. God is into reconciling, he is into right relationship. He is into reconciliation and right relationships.
We see the ultimate end as things ‘ought’ to be in community in reconciliation.
Art brings things back into order. Divine Art is redemptive to the community.
God is a creative being who creates: we are made as creative beings who create.
‘Artistic ability’ however is different, it is a skill, it is a gift, it is a discipline.
But ‘creativity’ is a human trait.
The church says: “If the creatives would just stop asking questions? If they would just confirm.
Let me tell you something.
Artists are the pastors to the rest of us who are creative. Those who God made artistic, they are not just entertainers. They should not be just delegated to the 20 min of worship time. They are prophetic leaders.
Worship and song make us feel but it is just one small aspect of an artist. One value to art is how it makes us feel. But there is also, reclamation art, protest art, emotion art.
Artists are not just helping us to feel they are helping us to ask questions and this is the key.
Divergent thinking has multiple uses. It has multiple answers to questions. As children we are far more imaginative but society takes that out of us. “We do not want you to think outside the box”. However, if you don’t think, if you don’t dream, if you don’t imagine, you lose it.
Tolkien says that fantasy remains a human right. Fantasy is taken from the real world. We are sub narrators.
C.S.Lewis was asked: Why write children’s literature, why write to a children’s audience. He said that children’s literature was the best genre of communicating the truth about the world.
Imagination is the spark of creativity. “May we all grow old enough to read fairy tales again” C.S.Lewis.
Gods creative energy is not in the past, it is in the present.
The Israelites were terrified of the weapons of war, then God says: “I created the blacksmith”.
He is saying that I am sovereign, I am in control of every thing.
- God Created Gen 1
- God Is creating Is 54:16
- God Will Create Is 65:17
- We are saved
- We are being saved
- We will be saved
We are actively creating all the time.
We might not be able to fix the world but we can change the world. We are not powerless. We can create and work toward that end.
John 5:17 says:
“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
We can join the fathers work. God is always working. Calvary was a creative act. He was building and crafting a new temple. When we sacrifice for others we are creating a way forward.
Walter Bruggerman says that we need prophetic imagination. We desperately need the creatives, the prophets. Why? Because they can think outside the box. They can see past the road blocks, they can see the way forward and they can walk toward it.
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