“What sets us apart as human beings, from the rest of the creation, is our desire and ability to create.”
Before we dive into what Dorothy Sayers meaningfully unpacked in her book: Mind of the Maker, here is some context for the content.
I’m no deer spotting expert, but I found a suitable spot, called a friend and we found ourselves in Richmond Park. Deers are fascinating. The individual detail on each one meant that not one had antlers with the same shape, angle or design as the other and I was in awe of that. I am also sure that not one of them looked at me with the same awe and excitement. They were stunning but minded their own business, ate grass, roamed the savannah of TW10. Even the younglings seldom received special attention. Shelf that for a second..
Now what I am suggesting here is by no means anything formulaic or set in stone; rather, it is an idea to challenge the carelessly adopted notion that only a few of us are 'creative'.
Let’s start by emphasising God as the master artist, who creates and sustains. First imagining, then voicing it to Self (..let us create mankind in our own image..). God the creator articulated an idea, an imagination to the Trinity, the source of all beauty, wonder, communion, artistry and dynamics. From that source man and woman, works of art, were formed. The formation didn’t take place from nothing (although ‘nothing’ is what everything can be traced back to) but from dust and breath that were already present. Admittedly, this is a reference to Genesis’ account of creation, but there’s plenty to explore.
God then affirms. Reproduce, multiply, pro-create, 'make as I have made'. The popular understanding of that affirmation is making babies.. which means until we make a baby and put little humans on the earth, what’s said there is redundant to a lot of people who aren’t in a position to give birth, or at a point in life where starting a family isn’t an option. If we are going to interpret that well, we probably shouldn’t see it as only putting out another generation. There’s more to it.
Go with me here...
Have you every imagined anything? Do you think about and plan weeks in advance and organise your life? Do you buy clothes that go with a desired outfit or collection? Do you sustain your bank balance by keeping a steady account of income and outgoings? Do you plan for the future? Do you teach, work in HR, conduct surgeries or stack shelves? I’m not just speaking about painters, fashion designers or singers. What about teachers, accountants, full time mums & dads, business owners, engineers, lawyers and doctors... any vocation imaginable.
Some of those questions are almost too simple and I could have asked many more. If your answer to any of those were yes, you are creative.
creative means: involving the use of imagination to make something or bring something into existence.
Being creative is playing an instrument, dancing, designing something, and everything else! I believe that everyone is born 'arty'. We are born expert linguists! It takes a 2 year old no education to speak the language spoken around them. Phonetics, turn into noises, into words and phrases, into sentences, into conversations. What matters is how that is nurtured through life. Kids end up memorising textbooks for most of their formative years and leave school without an ounce of useful inspiration or epistemology or nurtured skills to create.
McManus once said “All humans have the ability to materialise the invisible, capacity to imagine something and translate that through passion and skill in to something tangible, something matter-full.”
So why hang out with deers..??
Humans aren’t the only creatives. There are very creative, wise animals on our planet. Birds make nests, bees make homes to store honey, wild cats hunt for food.. the list goes on and all have to create to live. Still, not as imaginative or powerful as humans. I haven't heard of a cheetah that developed wifi, or an ant that pioneered the use of electricity or the wise owl that created the email services to be organised. No, but we are extraordinary, with an unthinkable amount of potential to imagine and create, anything, futures.
I guarantee you that believing in Genesis’ account of creation means no one was hiding in the bushes jotting down how God created humans. He or she (the writer of Genesis) somehow inspired by God has had to work their way back from humans to God. But I’ll conclude with how Sayers explains it. She gives a glimpse into that.
“Man and woman... ...How then can they be said to resemble God? Is it their immortal souls. their rationality, their self consciousness, their free will? A case may be argued for all these elements in their complex nature.
But had the author of Genesis anything in particular in mind when they wrote? It is observable that in the passage leading up to the statement about man and woman, they have given very little detailed information about God. Looking at man and woman, the author sees something essentially divine, but when we turn back to what they said about God (upon which the ‘image’ was modelled) we find only the single assertion, ‘God created’.
The characteristic common to God and humankind is that: the desire and ability to make things.”
— Dorothy Sayers - The Mind of the Maker (The Image of God).