An Intuitive Response

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I recently attended the Festival of Faith & Music at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Famed painter Makato Fujimara was there to present at the initial keynote session and he did a fine job setting the stage for the weekend’s proceedings.

Within his message, mostly tuned in to the passage on ‘extravagance’ found in Mark 14 where Mary unloads the jar of perfume on Jesus, Makato gave this quote:

“Every act of creativity is directly or indirectly an intuitive response to the Creator.”

 

When I heard that, I wrote it down. There was an instinctive response that said what he was saying was true, that this was some quote that would be used for inspirational quote books or something other quick buck-making gift book. I’ve turned this phrase over in my head a few times since that fateful Friday night, wondering what that means for me.

I guess the key question is: does this acknowledgement change the way that I go about creating? Does believing that as I’m creating make a difference in how I choose to apply myself in that moment of creating? Is it just a phrase I’m intended to nod and affirm as a “hrmmm….” moment?

Or, does that create or affirm a level of artistic responsibility? In other words, to personalize it, as as a writer, should I be focused on writing more of God has put within me to write versus writing for a magazine’s deadline and making the paycheck? Of course, there’s a never-ending tension there, but I have to admit that I can’t even remember the last time I wrote what *I* wanted to write. Is that a slap in the face of a statement like this?

I guess these are things I’m wrestling with. I wonder what to make of this statement, but, even more importantly, the consequences of this. I’d love to hear some thoughtful responses on this.

Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.


9 Comments

  1. Beth

    I have been wrestling with some of these questions lately as well. When I am busy, it seems that I make music and write just to meet the deadline. But I am always wondering – am I losing something when I get into the “production mode”? Is this really what I was created to do, or am I just like a machine in a factory? I don’t really have any answers, but it is helpful to hear someone else thinking through the same things.

  2. Mike

    Matt,
    If He truly gives us the desires of our heart in the sense that they are His desires being birthed in us then what “you” want to write may be exactly what He want’s written. I’ve spent my entrire life being afraid that what I wanted was in direct contradiction with what God wanted. After all my heart is deceitfully wicked. However I’m learning that I create because I was made in the image of my creator. I’m not a carpenter but I am building a cabin in the woods near my home. I have spent very little money as many things have been donated. My thoughts have been that if it was what he wanted he would supply the material. I have had some pretty awesome donations (materials and labor). Since I was a little boy I have wanted a cabin by a creek. Is it self fulfilled prophecy or a desire He put in me. I don’t know but I have an idea.

  3. Loren Eaton

    I’ve always thought that the thematic aspect of an artistic work — visual or literary or whathaveyou — was the most important part. Which implies a greater responsibility, I suppose.

  4. Jeff M

    I like that quote alot – however, as believers, should we not shorten it to read “Every act is directly or indirectly an intuitive response to the Creator”? Why limit this thought to “creative” acts? Isn’t building a house or a road or a website equally responsive to the Creator than a painting or song? As it reads now, it seems kind of narrow and somewhat self-serving to me (although understood that it was originally given in context).

    If that statement makes you think about your “art”, then that statement should also make you think about the way you talk to your friends and parents and strangers, and the way you drive your car, and the way you order food at a restaurant. I think sometimes it’s easier to keep this thought in mind when “creating” and harder when doing non-creative things in the real world…I know that when I was working in a more “creative” capacity, the times when I felt more corporate or machine-like was usually due to something outside the “art” that was bringing me down. Not reflecting the Creator in my life outside the “art” was the root cause for the non-creativeness (for lack of a better term) in the art itself.

  5. Dale

    It seems the tension is the key, and probably a necessity that pushes us along the narrow way. For a car to move in a straight line, the tension of forces pushing and pulling it in opposing directions have to be balanced by a hand on the steering wheel – hopeful a discerning and wise hand.

    You may not be writing what you want to write, but are you writing things you (or God) are opposed to? Is there value in what you write, from God’s perspective? In other words, is it what God wants you to write, considering his transcendent perspective on eternal value for you and through you?

    Throughout biblical example, there seems to be a consistent theme of men hemmed in, constrained, by God’s sovereignty to create and walk in ways they would wander from without his influence.

    . . . or maybe I’m just making that up to settle my unease over my own unfulfilled creative yearnings . . . the tension continues.

  6. Leigh McLeroy

    I can recommend Mako’s book, Refractions: a journey of faith, art, and culture, very highly. It is a collection of truly beautiful and thought provoking essays, especially chapters “Fallen Towers and the Art of Tea” and “Optimal Foraging Theory: Can You Have Your Birds and Eat Them, Too?” Good, good stuff.

  7. sally Lloyd-Jones

    The question of writing what is in us to write versus writing for the pay…

    In my experience, it’s sometimes the very obstacle you thought was getting in the way of your art and keeping you from doing your real, true, important work, that turns out to be The Thing. Where God wanted you all along. And the work he blesses unexpectedly and abundantly and quite wonderfully–and you find your imagination ignited and everything transformed. And in the center of what is in you to write. You just didn’t recognize it going in.

    This may not be our usual experience. But it’s been mine at least once. Enough to humble me and make me wonder… if I really can always tell what God is doing… my idea of what He wants me to write may not be his… his Thoughts are not our thoughts… some doors open to you and maybe you’re meant to walk through them even if they don’t look exactly the way you thought they should look…

    Not true always, of course. Perhaps hardly ever. But just enough times to perhaps keep you on your toes and your eyes peeled, on the look out for what God might be up to…

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