The Dancing Puritan

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Freshness and Creativity: Pt. 2

C.S. Lewis

It might be imagined that the creative person is one constantly in solitude, hidden away-- being creative. There is no argument that a quiet place with one's books, paper and other tools of the trade is fundamental to creativity.

However, isolation as a way of life is not good. Though the Bible speaks of the good gift of singleness, and proclaims the unique opportunities of being single, the gift is not a call to live alone.

God as the solution to the problem of aloneness created marriage. Yet marriage is not the end-all cure for being alone. Singleness requires the remedy of friendship.

Marriage is unique, reserved and specific. The married couple is bound together in a union where no one else is welcomed. The relationship is unique. When two people get married, they are entering into a brand-new thing. They leave behind the closest relationships of the past to be joined to one another. Intruders are not to be allowed.

Yet marriage does not negate the need for friendships.  The Bible says, Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17 ESV). Friendship is designed to make us better, sharper and more prepared.

As those created in the image of God, we are to be creative people.  We are not designed to merely take up space in a state of mere existence. God has made us to display his glory. We are to bring color and seasoning to the world. We are to be creative. Creativity necessitates relationships.

C.S. Lewis left behind a rich legacy of words. Children (and adults) still delight in Narnia. New Christians are often quickly introduced to Mere Christianity. Older Christians think through his discussions on the problem of pain. Was Lewis a recluse, sequestered away with just his quill and inkwell? No! He was a man that treasured friendship and it was his ongoing practice to spend many hours in the company of his friends. Granted, he was not married for most of his life, therefore he had more time. Nevertheless his creativity was cultivated in the garden of friendship. It would not have been good for Lewis to be alone. Constant isolation would not have been good for him and it would not have been good for those who have enjoyed his writings.

The closest friends of Lewis, the Inklings, met regularly on Tuesdays at the Bird and Baby pub near Oxford University. But as Humphrey Carpenter writes, Indeed they were likely to meet on almost any morning at almost any pub. On Tuesday evenings it was their custom to read aloud whatever projects they might be working on at the time. The Hobbit, by Tolkien, was first read to the Inklings.  The weekday morning gatherings by The Inklings were more about just talking and theology was often the subject.  Lewis said, The fun is often so fast and furious that the company probably thinks we're talking bawdy when in fact we're very likely talking theology (page 185: The Inklings by Carpenter).

Men need the company of men.  Women need the company of women.  Discernment is needed for all.  In the good company of creative friends ideas are exchanged, creativity is stirred up and thinking is expanded.  Without such company there will be the tendency for narrowness.  Isolation has a way of turning a person inward and perspective is lost.

You are called to be creative. Creativity is cultivated in the soil of friendship. Lone-rangerism may make for fun movies and novels but does not bode well for a person who wants to live a creative life.