Saturday, October 5, 2013

On Creating

Lately I've been thinking about what it means to create and where the desire to create comes from. For me, creating is as necessary as sleep: I can go maybe a day without writing or drawing or making something, but more than that and I shrivel up inside. Why is this?

I think that humans are by nature creative, and that when we destroy something we are taking part in the work of the Devil. "The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10) Our ability to destroy is a result of the fall and of the corruption of sin; but our ability to create directly reflects the image of God in us. We create because God first created.(I strongly recommend reading Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" to learn more about this theory. I am very much in Tolkien's sub-creator camp.) The very act of creating is inherently God-based, I think.This not to say that everything man creates is good; on the contrary.Sin corrupts all things, and even a good thing can be used for evil. But I think that the act of creating itself is divine, and that the creation of a work of art that glorifies God, whether a poem or a painting or a novel or a concerto, is a defense against the one who comes to steal and kill and destroy, because he will and he does.

I have a short confession: I really like anime.(Yes, this does relate to the post and there's a reason I mention it.) I'm not entirely sure why, but it fascinates me. During this past summer I started to watch the series Fullmetal Alchemist, chronicling the lives of two brothers named Edward and Alphonse Elric who study alchemy. Due to an attempted resurrection of their mother, they lose part (and in one case, all) of their bodies. In one episode, they encounter a crazed man with the same powers, but who uses his powers to destroy rather than to restore. The older brother, Edward, asks him, "Why are you after us?" To which he replies, "If you are Creators, then there must also be a Destroyer." Yes, this is an anime show, but there's a vital truth here. Because of the Fall, there must be a Destroyer, just as in the world of Edward and Alphonse (who go by Ed and Al) there is a Destroyer. The Destroyer, or the Devil, the one who steals and kills, has only the power of destruction, while our Creator God has the power of creation and life and resurrection. The Apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Ephesians, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

In closing I will quote Dante, because he is wonderful. (Yes, I am a literature major, but I will note that I am only a recent convert to Dante, as I didn't really like him at first, I'll admit.) I read Dante's Paradiso for a class a few weeks ago, and my professor pointed out a passage that immediately captured me:

Look up now, reader, with me to the spheres;

look straight to that point of the lofty wheels

where the one motion and the other cross,

and there begin to revel in the work

of thatgreat Artist who so loves His Art,

His gaze is fixed on it perpetually.

(Dante, Paradiso, lines 7-12)

This is why I must create: because God first created, and because I can't possibly not create things. Just as He is passionate about His art, so I am about mine, whether poetry or fiction or illumination. Whatever it is, I must create it, because that's who I am.
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