Monday, February 9, 2009

On Creativity

So it’s that time of year that we are still trying to remember not to write the previous year on the checks when we pay the bills and hoping that spring will be coming soon. It's also the time of year in Northern New England where the excesses alternately of salt and snow turn driving and parking into exercises in modern relativism: We are free to interpret lanes and parking spaces for ourselves as long as our interpretation doesn't directly contradict someone else's. And like modern relativism, it is just a practical implication of there being actual lanes and parking spots, which just happen to be difficult to see in the present circumstances. To see the underlying reality, it is only necessary to see what happens when trying to find your own lane where the snow plow hasn't defined it or where someone else is trying to find their own lane in the opposite direction.

Of course, it's not only a good time to make fun of modern relativism; it's also the time of year that my research appointment comes up for reevaluation. This time around, as I've known for a while, the project is coming to a close, which means I'm looking for a job. Of course, it's not the best time to be out of a job, but I'm not in charge of those decisions and not too worried about it. God has provided in the past and He will provide in the present and the future. As an interesting coincidence (if you believe in such nonsense), we just found out that we're done paying for our heat for the winter. Since we're on the budget plan that budgeted for oil to cost about five dollars a gallon for the year, we have enough money paid to the oil company that we're set until July. In fact, their note says "We only wish Wall Street and the investment bankers had been as smart as our customers." That makes me smile.

In the meantime, I have some time off to be a househusband and to be creative. In my first week off I made a light box for photography (shown below, think of it as a miniature photo studio), not only having fun with power tools, but spending almost no money (if I had had enough clip lights I wouldn't have spent anything). The next week I made some garlic-herb baguettes and it was the first time I'd made bread without the assistance of a bread machine (it turned out very well). Last week I made a rather experimental recipe of Apple Strawberry Nut Bread (which was delicious). I'll probably post more on some of those later, but I thought it was a good time to talk about creativity.

So why am I creative (or anyone else for that matter)? The short and glib answer (which is in this case also true) is that "God made me that way." In Exodus 35, the Bible speaks of a particular artist, saying "[God] has filled [this artist] with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship." So I create because the Spirit of God is in me; because I was created in the image of God. To make my point a little clearer: I create because God is creative; the overflowing love of God has created a world in which his creativity is on display not only in the beauty of creation, but also in His ability to create creative beings.

To this end, our church just had an art display with pieces from a handful of artists in the congregation to celebrate the creativity that God has given us. I had some photos there and so did my lovely wife. We'll post pictures online soon, when I get around to making the page.


  1. Matthew - explain what a light box does. I'm interested.

  2. Lillian, sorry I missed your comment for a couple of weeks. The light box is also called a soft box and is used for creating a space that is well lit with a fairly diffuse light (the sides are covered only by a white sheet). With a piece of white posterboard as a backdrop, it makes those product photos with a plain white background very easy. Emily has several examples on her blog:

  3. I grew up in New England and visit quite often......because I love & miss it. I must say, it's refreshing to see such seemingly sincere Christians living there. It seems so spiritually dead when I visit.

  4. Next time you visit you're welcome to drop by our church (, but I have to confess I'm originally from GA. Our church have more than its fair share of real New Englanders though ...