Creatio Ex Nihilo

Here’s the reality of my life: when I’m engaged in creative work, creativity ideas overflow into every other area. When I’m overwhelmed with administrative tasks, when I’m on extended periods of daddy duty, when my emotional and mental energies are sapped by conflict, when I’m thinking through the same things over and over again–in these times creativity stagnates.

Creativity has a very hard time springing up out of nothing.

Creativity, having something to say, feeds upon itself. It’s one of the few resources we have that increases the more we use it.

Want to have something to say? Start talking.

Want to have something to paint? Start drawing.

Want to have something to sing? Start strumming.

Want to have something to write? Start clicking.

Making something out of nothing is impossible. Really. We ascribe it to God as an action fitting God’s divinity.

So, if you’re not God, here’s my piece of unsolicited advice: wherever it is that you find yourself creating, feed that every day.

8 thoughts on “Creatio Ex Nihilo”

  1. Agreed.
    I, personally, require two things in order to create: significant time for solitude and reflection, and a degree of order in my life and surroundings.

  2. Awesome post. Love this line: “Making something out of nothing is impossible. Really. We ascribe it to God as an action fitting God’s divinity.”

    This was a nice post to wake up to as I start my week in ad school.

  3. Daniel, it seems curious to me, this emphasis by theologians on ex nihilo. In the creation story, the bible clearly accentuates what God did with an earth that was already there. The Jewish tradition emphasizes God “repairing” the worlds rather than simply creating them. The point is this: Creation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. All of our creative moments happen while facing another person or living situation. The greater the fracture between man and his world, the greater the possibility of repair (creation). Haven’t we all found our greatest ideas to have come from “between” ourselves and the world and not simply from within our own cave of existence? Are christianity and the bible simply a notification of God’s own pre-determined demands on men? Or are they an account of what has come out of man’s true “dialogue” with God?

    1. Azion, there are multiple creation traditions in scripture. Hebrews 11 probably has as much to do with our understanding of creation from nothing: the visible came from what’s invisible.

      I agree, though, with your assessment of the importance of relationships creating the generative energy for creation.

      1. Daniel, tell me, is “invisible” equivalent to “nothing”, or does that word speak more to our inability to see? Secondly, Hebrews 11:3 seems to simply be saying “that which is being seen was not made by that(One)which is visible.” Doesn’t that which is “invisible” refer to God rather than a primal condition? I don’t think that’s the same as something out of nothing-do you? Also,in this verse I see the writer speaks of God as “repairing” or “perfecting” (katartidzo) the worlds. Had you ever noticed that before?

        1. Nice observations, Azion. I had Hebrews in mind, went and read it, felt less compelled by it as “ex nihilo,” but offered it up anyway. The katartizo word choice is fascinating; also, the whole chapter is about being sure of what we can’t see. It would be interesting to pursue a bit more how this visible/invisible contrast fits into the larger framework of the chapter.

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