Many moons ago when I was studying at university, I studied a subject about creativity, culture and communication. The aim of this class was to study the different theories relating to creativity in our culture and how this interacts with communication. Sounds pretty bland, right? For the most part, I admit, I found myself daydreaming about what to buy from Pinkie's in my break. But one tutorial is still embedded in my memory, and I fear it may never leave me (but there is always hope).
The lecturer stood before the class and cleared his throat, adjusting his glasses on his angular nose with an age-wisened hand. Slowly, he opened the textbook, turning the pages with a familiar calm, rubbing the paper between his fingers as if to appreciate the texture of every printed page. He lifted his craggy face and I marvelled how the fluorescent light bounced off his shining forehead. Taking a deep breath, he declared in a steady voice the well-rehearsed line he had lectured on so many times before.
"There is no such thing as a creative genius." The class collectively held their breath as they processed his bold sentence, stated so matter-of-factly that the young students were unsure of how to proceed.
"And I say to you today, the author is dead." He placed the heavy textbook on the desk in front of him, lent backwards and crossed his long, chino-clad legs.
Was he being serious? How could he possibly say that there was no such thing as a creative genius? Had he not listened to Michael Jackson? Had he not watched films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, or read books penned by Jane Austen?
Who was this man declaring that the likes of Mozart or Beethoven or C.S Lewis were fraudulent, whimsical nobodies? Was he mad? Maybe he was a bitter man who was biding his time until long service leave, who thoroughly enjoyed torturing his students. And he dared to sit there wearing a smirk and attempting to chair our discussion. There couldn't even be a discussion. It was ridiculous.
The debate began, based on theories that theorists had theorised. We understood the class rules - you can't argue from emotion, you must only argue from accepted theories, you can't argue from a basis of things like God and religion. Those were the rules. The discussion included many different angles, psychology facts and figures, examples of real life scenarios, this that and the other.
But it didn't even begin to look at the truth - there was one Author and one Creative Genius. Being forced to examine the theory without acknowledging the Source of creativity proved futile, disappointing and empty. If there was no such thing as a person who could boast the anointing of Creator God, if the act of authoring a creative work was merely a production line for self-preservation rather than an expression of worship and a reflection of the image of the God, if a person who was seen to be creating profound works of art was actually considered a genetic mutant, then life was simply the act of survival.
If there's one thing I know, it's this - I am a creative person who is made in the image of a creative God. This goes beyond a theory. This goes into foundational faith. I like to think of it like a mathematical proof.
Do I believe God is the Creator of the universe?
Do I believe that God's Word is the Word of God?
Does God's Word say that I am created in the image of God?
Therefore, by my above reasoning, I [insert your name here] am/is creative.
It's simple. There's no powerpoint slideshows needed, no tables and graphs of data, no textbooks of theories required. All that is required is for you to go outside and gaze into the night sky. The stars alone should prove it. Or the sensation of the sun warming your skin in the early morning. Or the sound of the waves crashing at the beach or the feel of the sand between your toes, or the fact that your body is the most complex thing about you.
So, dear lecturer, whose name I have long since forgotten. I have discussed your statement and have decided that your theories have a few holes in them and are missing many elements, such as the truth.
Could the real Creative Genius please stand up?