God was on TV last night, starring on Project Runway.

 I saw God on TV last night. Not on the 700 club, “Christian TV” just can’t fit God into the schedule, with all the guest authors pushing answer-books like dealers pushing meth in the south Bronx. I think God understands. And anyway, He was chilling on Project Runway.  

I admit it. I had a hard time with this. Project Runway is not exactly . . . masculine. Maybe I shouldn’t categorize a TV show in terms of gender, but if you have ever watched it, you know what I mean. Flamboyant Tim, dancing around the work room making snarky comments. The tall and elegant Heidi, certainly one ingredient that could draw more male viewers, making kissing sounds next to people’s ears. And the designers, as they snip, tuck, and pick out fire-engine red pumps from the Macy’s Wall. Not the kind of show that features Budweiser during the breaks. 

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Good Free Will Hunting

Talk to anyone who is well-read on the concept of “free will” and you may find yourself discussing any number of heady things, from the five points of Calvinism to the four Spiritual Laws.  In Christian thought, free will is typically associated with our ability to choose to follow or reject God and His grace.  In this sense, it is associated with sin or where you go when you die.  It is a heaven or hell thing. 

But I think that one of the more under-explored aspects of free will is something that defines us as artists: Creativity.

What is creativity anyway?  The word is synonymous with imagination, innovation, originality, individuality, artistry, inspiration. Creativity is a new way to tell a story, a different way to catch a mouse, the silhouette of a new car.  Creativity is a song that makes you tap your foot, or a joke that makes you laugh, or a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Creativity is the photography of Ansel Adams, or the Wright brothers’ first powered airplane, or a new flavor of ice cream.  Creativity is all of these things.

Human creativity is one aspect of what theologians call “the cultural mandate,” which is essentially our job description here on earth: "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it."  This cultural mandate includes the blessing to prosper and procreate, to be responsible for the care and stewarding of the earth, to develop societies and invent and explore, and also to create and express ourselves in the created universe.  In this sense, creativity is a vibrant and essential part of our free will.

Creativity happens, in part, because all of us were created to be unique beings.  We all see the world in our own special and distinct ways, and are able to express this view uniquely.  Each of us sees the sunset differently.  Each of us feels sadness differently.  The smell of bacon and eggs in the morning is a distinctly different experience for each of us, because we each bring our senses, preferences, physicalities, and memories to the breakfast table.  

Theologian Jeremy Begbie says in his book, Voicing Creations Praise, “I have argued that the Christian faith presents us with a vision of created existence possessing its own latent orderliness and meaning, and that a crucial part of human creativity is to be attentive to that inherent order, to discover it and bring it to light.”  What I think he is implying is that the act of human creativity is in part the act of revelation, a revelation of God’s creation interpreted through humanity.  

And this is my point: Creativity is one inherent aspect of being made in the image of God.  Creativity is an act of the human soul, where our free will and our personality and our intellect converge. It is a gift from God, imbedded into all of humanity.  And more than that, it is mandated as a part of our purpose here on earth.

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Partnering with God's Creativity to Save the World

In the endless troubling issues of today's world, do we believe that our creative God has ideas that we can tap into to bring hope?  I believe he is overflowing with creativity that he would love to share with us... 

It was just that I wanted a fruit dryer.  We’ve dried fruit in several different ways here in Africa but I’ve never been very happy with any of the methods we’ve employed.

I just wanted to dry some mangos and bananas, you know?

My husband was in the States so I ordered one for him to bring back to me.  This snappy little machine was cool and efficient and fairly green to boot. I was starting to get excited. I do love tasty slices of dry mango.

It was on the plane returning to Africa that God interrupted my husband’s thoughts.

Legos and the Creative Soul

My son has been working really hard lately, completing his first year of college.  Yesterday was his last final, and as would be expected of a teenager, he wanted to blow off some steam.  So his best friend came over—and they started playing with Legos.

Now if you have children, you probably understand the magical effect Legos can have.  Cars, dinosaurs, space ships, castles, and even entire cities have mystically emerged from our family’s Lego bucket over the last fifteen years.  But although he spent countless hours with his Legos as a little boy, this is definitely not normative for him as a nineteen year old.  But in the last two days, they—along with his twin sisters—have produced two large X-wing fighters, a horse ranch, three rescue boats, a race car and two trucks, and a small town of helmeted Lego men.  (Yes, we have a lot of Legos!)

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Is it Possible to Seize the Day and Cease Striving?

How can we seize the day - pursue life with passion and conviction - without falling into the trap of doing, climbing, competing, striving, getting, consuming, accumulating?   

Creative Discipline...Not

This is a piece I posted here in November under the title, Creative Discipline: An Oxymoron? I am recycling it in order to illustrate how incredibly full of &#@* I really am. Take a look, comment if you'd like, and I'll follow in a few days with some thoughts on my fruitless attempt to keep the rigid writing schedule I outline below.  

 Creative Discipline: An Oxymoron?

I have never been one to set writing goals.  In fact, despite the fact that many creative and prolific writers swear by them, there is something about having to write a certain number of pages, or for a certain number of hours every day, that sucks the creative wind right out of me. I prefer the romantic notion of being inspired by the muse over the practicality of sitting down and hammering out a certain number of words a day.  

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UNLEASHING THE LION: Arts and Faith

When I was Austin, Texas screening my movie Purple State of Mind at the Alamo Drafthouse, my friends at The Work of the People grabbed a few minutes with me outside.    They produce the smartest and snappiest and most gut punching videos for churches around the world.  Nobody creates resources for worship with more originality and verve.   

Ever the provocateur, filmmaker extraordinaire Travis Reed launched a few loaded questions my way.   No planning, no prep, just spontaneous riffing.   His camera rocked and rolled across an array of issues.   Fifteen minutes later, our conversation had concluded.  

And yet, through the miraculous power of editing, Travis turned those fifteen minutes into three potent short pieces about the danger of televangelists, how to 

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