Creativity in community

 

I write this whilst working with Riding Lights Theatre Company on their Summer School based, this year, at Queen Margaret’s School, York. This week long course has been my spiritual nourishment for six years and is the highlight of my year. The work itself (Technical Support) is not the most interesting or inspiring job but being a part of the temporary community that establishes itself here is a privilege and a joy. Sarah (my wife) and I get the chance to connect with old friends and to chat, explore, connect with them and support them as they ‘get creative’ with participants from across the world.

As we enjoy the company of old and new friends, pray with them, listen to countless stories and encourage other’s creativity, I’m particularly conscious of the need for true creativity to be part of any community. What do I mean by ‘true creativity’? This is the topic of my dissertation and my book ‘God of Gods: Re-imagining the Theatre and the Church’… so hold onto your metaphorical hats!

Image by ncculture on FlickrFor me, creativity is about aligning ourselves with a creative power. Peter Brook speaks of the implicit understanding that when we watch a conductor lead an orchestra he is not really making the music but rather the music is making him; there’s something other about a creative moment, we don’t make creativity happen we participate in something other. As a Christian, I understand that creative power as God. In Scripture we are told, first, that God is creative. To be precise we’re told God is creativity. The Hebrew word bara (which means ‘to create’) is only ever used as an activity of God. God creates, we can only fashion or mould that which is already created.

When we ‘create’, therefore, we imitate or align ourselves with God; we participate in God-like work. The power to create, the inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning so it is throughout Scripture, the Spirit falls upon people to be creative. It is interesting to note that in the New Testament the Spirit of God falls on those to perform tasks or minister to others and the Spirit is in us to produce fruit. Many people see the Spirit always being inside us, indwelling so that we can perform the tasks of God or to do the ministry. The language is more detailed than that. Rather the Spirit is inside us to produce fruit of the Spirit (Gal :5) and it is on us to ‘bring Good News to the poor…’ (Is:61, Mt 12 and Lk 4).

To return to the need for creativity to establish a community (he says trying to force the lid back on the can of worms!) it is important to acknowledge the work of the Spirit and how we discern the Holy Spirit from other forces. Scripture again makes it clear that demons, man, whoever, can imitate and do miraculous signs. In the gospels Jesus acknowledges that Satan and his angels can do all that He is doing and John in his epistle talks of the Sons of darkness coming and performing many miracles. Scripture says, however, that the unique and most powerful thing that the Spirit of God can do is bring life, resurrection life. The same power should be present in creativity. Creativity, seen as an activity of God, brings life to people. Like the Spirit it should be extravagant and generous not restricted. Creativity, therefore, must inspire creativity in others, giving them life, allowing them to participate in the life of God too.

Christian communities should be places of life giving power or, as we have discovered, creativity.

I see this most obviously here at Riding Lights Summer Theatre School. It is the search and exploration of creativity that leads people to the source of creativity itself and gives people encounters with Him, the Creator. So what has this got to do with my ‘digital life’?

My question is, ‘How do we support this community through social media?’

 

Picture of a twitter bird looking like a doveI have tried to use Twitter, knowing that many of the tutors and participants are involved in it. The problem has been lack of signal! It would have been interesting to see what the online community would look and feel like compared to the tangible love and bond in the offline community. I wonder whether the creative work happening all around the campus would be able to manifest itself online through social media. Would people outside the present community have experienced the life-giving power here? Is it better that people participate offline rather than trying to be online at the same time? Can we truly experience the creative power of God online?

I must go now; back to life, back to reality!

About nedlunn

Ned Lunn is a minister in the Church of England. Before this he ran a theatre company, el mono theatre, for seven years. He now writes on spirituality, philosophy, poetry and arts and is a member of a community called, 'Burning Fences', in York which explores art, spirituality and philosophy. He's married to Sarah and lives in York.