News and the Good News

Creativity On The Run

March 22, 2021

According to some reports, the countryside may soon be the place where creative artists flourish. The reason is simple. Cities are just too expensive. The cost of living in New York City is twice the average cost of living in the U.S. So cities, the argument goes, will become less and less the place where different cultures mesh and mutually influence creativity. More and more cities will become corporate centers – each city akin to one big office park, which is a pretty dismal picture– and less and less will cities be hotbeds of artistic creativity.

Now, I wouldn’t count cities out just yet. Even if this is a cultural trend, we might think, as Christians, about the blessings of cross-cultural enrichment. Jesus was born outside of Jerusalem in a land which is at something close to an intersection of the West, the South, and the East. Our hymnal is certainly a product of Western civilization but even so we sing hymns from the early medieval Latin West, and the Greek East; from American frontier religion; from German pietism; from the English Cathedral tradition, and more. Even within the narrow band of our singing we are blessed by a wide range of cultural influences.

A Christian view of the arts sees our creativity as a reflection of God’s creativity and as a way that we, through the arts, bring out some of creation’s limitless potential. Artists, that is, tap into the universe’s latent possibilities and bring new things to expression. Just how the local church can play a part in encouraging creativity is not completely clear to me. Arts and crafts during Vacation Bible School may seem insignificant. But maybe there is a chance for every congregation to be a home to artistic development. There may not be much we can do about the cost of living, but we can do things to enrich life through art and music. We can encourage creativity to run its course, not run away from our cities.