The is my fourth post in a five-part series for my seminary course at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg on Media and Religion.
I am creative. We are creative.
This is the idea behind Jacie Richmond’s post, “The Start of Something New,” where she talks about the idea of creative products having a lineage– they stretch back to what others have created before them. Jacie writes,
While it is true that knowledge is collective (otherwise we would constantly be re-creating the wheel) we are taught to think that creativity is more individual. The point is to think of something that is drastically different from anything else that has been done. The more different it is, then the more creative it is. Digital media is causing us to redefine this though with more and more people creating parodies of other work. It is also easier to create something which gives a creative voice to many more people than was previously possible.
When we’ve seen the nine-hundreth “Let It Go” parody we may start to question whether there really is anything creative going on, but I would suggest that these nine hundred parodies are actually indicative of something else going on– creativity breeding creativity.
Let’s be honest, just as Richmond points out, our creations build off of other ideas. A quote I heard a while back that has always stuck with me, “You learn based off what you know.” In other words, we aren’t creating anything completely new because everything we do is based off of building blocks that come from something we know.
Did that just deflate your creativity balloon? Did it make you feel like you aren’t the original Picasso you thought you were? Well, stop worrying, because I don’t think this means we’ve lost that spark that comes when you mould clay with your hands or edit video and align it with audio. What I think this really highlights is how important it is for us to be creative in the first place, so that others can see what is possible.
In class we’ve been watching a ton of videos that show different ways of conveying the message of the gospel through digital media, and each one has given me an expanded framework for thinking through what is possible. It’s not that these ideas and their derivative products limit future creativity because they “got there first”, but that they show us ways for us to be creative in the future. Others give birth to our creativity.
It reminds me of hearing stories about how the election of President Barack Obama, an African American man, gave young African American boys and girls the framework to conceptualize what it might look like for them to be President of the United States someday. A similar idea is how the ordination of Rev. Elizabeth Platz, the first female pastor in a Lutheran church in the United States, paved the way for people to understand what it might look like for women to be ordained in the U.S. Lutheran churches. I, myself, think of at least a few female pastors that have spurred me on to think creatively about how I can be both myself and a pastor in ways that I don’t think I would have dared to imagine without their models. Other people thinking creatively give us the space to think about new ideas, and to create new possibilities from that space.
So while the bajillion music parodies we find all over the web may seen like an indication that creativity as gone to the (lol)cats, perhaps it is a sign that creativity is providing even more fertile ground than ever before. In fact, maybe I’m excited to watch another fifty “Let It Go” parodies and covers because each one takes its creative roots in a new direction.
Most of all, this reminds us of our interconnectivity. In the book Click2Save, Pastors Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson describe the richness of digital media to “connect us more deeply to those we know already, and extended real and meaningful relationship to those we may know only indirectly– only as links in the helixes DNA of the Body of Christ” (177). Creativity does not happen on individual islands, but in a web, connected through ideas, observation, crowdsourcing, sharing, and the Holy Spirit that moves through us all.
In what ways have you created because of others? What creative projects have you done that you are proud of and how have they been inspired from other creative people/projects?