I’ve been trotting around the house feeling hot and bothered today, and seeing as I’m too young for menopause, I’m laying blame at the door of Robert Genn. His Painter’s Keys newsletter this morning was titled Creativity & Fundamentalism, and as someone who is considered by some to be a fundamentalist, it wasn’t a fun read.
Genn quotes a study that suggests that fundamentalists, due to their “intolerant and closed belief systems” were not able to open themselves up to creativity. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art is far more blunt, stating “Fundamentalists cannot be artists.” They use words like “dogma,” “submissive,” and “gullible.”
I think the controversy comes out of the the label “fundamentalist.” I don’t see a lot of great art coming out of Islamic extremism, or the fundamentalist, polygamist Mormon sect in the southern part of my province. The Amish limit their creativity to the structure of traditional quilt patterns, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden to study writings that challenge their belief system (at least so I’ve heard). But you start to spread that fundamentalist “blanket” over evangelical Christians like myself, and it starts to wear a little thin.
I’m quite willing to challenge what I believe. It’s not comfortable to wear a world view that opposes the cultural climate I live in, and if it was just a matter of picking my dogma of choice, why not go with popular opinion? Christians can come across a little too self-righteous and pomopous, true – we have a tendency to get a little too comfortable with our assumptions. But, if I believe that God is real and if I believe that the Bible is his word to humanity, then I’m a hypocrite if I don’t apply God’s word to my life, choices and world view. I won’t be desecrating any crucifixes in my art, but I do get to explore my gift of creativity – one I believe is not some random trick of environment or genetics, but was given for a purpose, one that brings joy to me and my Creator.
It’s intolerant and bigoted to believe that only the religiously ambiguous can be creative in our day and age. Art however, does reflect the world view of the artist, and in a culture that rejects God, creativity does start to look a lot more pagan.