Archives For Creativity

 

That Frumious Bandersnatch

A Feature Review of

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings 
Diana Glyer

Illustrated by James A. Owen
Paperback: Black Squirrel Books, 2016
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sam Edgin

 

In the corner of a pub in small town Indiana, I met with dear friends weekly for over a year. Huddled in dusty yellow light beneath a wrinkled photocopy of a painting of a British hunting party, their red jackets faded orange, we fancied ourselves like the Inklings, that company of writers who met – also weekly – in the infamous Rabbit Room in back of the Eagle and Child in Oxford. This comparison was generous – we only talked about books, not wrote them – but little makes a young man feel more infinite than sitting in a pub with friends, laughing loud and arguing louder, empty pints scattered victoriously across the table.

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Dave HarritySlowly Creating Well

A Feature Review of

Making Manifest: On Faith Creativity and the Kingdom at Hand
Dave Harrity

Paperback: Seedbed Publishing, 2013
Buy now:  [ Seedbed ]

Reviewed by Sam Edgin

 

Dave Harrity’s Making Manifest had two strikes against it by the time I had finished the introduction (“to begin” on pp. xi-xv). First, it is arranged as a combined group study and personal devotional. This form –  a youth group staple –  specializes mainly in covers splashed with either neon or explosions, faux-edgy graphic design swirling about cool praying teens, and a troubling overuse of phrases like “chew,” “the meat,” and “on-fire.”  It also has an unhealthy preoccupation with the almighty “you,” and with writing on pre-printed lines at the end of each day/chapter.

 

My second – and I admit, needlessly personal –  issue with Making Manifest is that latter feature. I hate writing in books. Anything that mars the original condition of a book flares compulsion within me. Dog-earing is a cardinal sin; highlighting, an offense to nature. I read trade paperbacks through a thin V of pages in order to avoid breaking spines. Within the introduction of Making Manifest Dave Harrity asked me to do all those things. “There’s space for you to write… crack the spine so the book rests flat, dog-ear, sketch and scratch,” He says (xiv). I almost flipped the book to the floor in frustration.

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In search of honey

A Review of

Drawn In: A Creative Process for Artists, Activists, and Jesus Followers

Troy Bronsink

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2012
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [
Kindle ]

For a limited time, the Kindle ebook is available for only $2.99!!!

 

Reviewed by Larry Shallenberger.

 

A Christian, by virtue of the very title, is someone whose character is shaped in the process of imitating Jesus’ life, resulting in sanctification and the character of Jesus is formed in the individual. The Apostle Paul used the language of Genesis to describe this transformation by audaciously claiming a Christ follower was part of the New Creation. If emulating Jesus results in sanctification, then, according to Troy Bronsink, the imitation of God’s work at creation results in increased creativity and generative capacity.

 

Drawn In is Troy Bronsink’s labor of love in which he shares lessons learned along the his decades long journey of attempting to understand the creative process. Troy is a Presbyterian minister, musician, and workshop leader who has expressed his creative gifts in parachurch, emerging church, and pastoral ministry for over twenty years. He admits that process of writing this book took eight long years, in part due to arduous battle to birth a creative faith community in Atlanta. This experience resonates with his conviction in the book that the creative process is cyclical not linear.

 

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Writing, The Sacred Art - Rami Shapiro, Aaron ShapiroRattling our Cages.

A Feature Review of

Writing – The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice

Rami Shapiro and Aaron Shapiro

Paperback: SkyLight Paths, 2012
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Reviewed by Rachel Diem.

“The most troubling and hence potentially liberating discovery is yet to come,” Rami Shapiro says in his preface to this book, and I did find the experience of working through the exercises in Writing – The Sacred Art both troubling and liberating. The troubling part led to what I can honestly call ‘soul searching’ – the process of questioning and beginning to clarify the relationship between my religious beliefs and my direct experience of the divine. I found it troubling; and yet when I sat down to make some notes toward this review, the first thing I did was make a list of the friends with whom I wanted to share the book.

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Jonah Lehrer - ImagineThe Imagination of Faith

A Feature Review of

Imagine: How Creativity Works

Jonah Lehrer

Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Greg Schreur.

[ Watch the Book Trailer for Imagine here.. ]

THE IMAGE

As Christians, we believe we are created in the image of the Creator, meaning we ourselves are creators, instilled with seemingly endless creative potential. Unfortunately, we often think of only a select few as the “creative types,” and we do essentially the same pigeonholing to creativity itself, assigning it as a character trait of writers and artists—rather than as a necessary and inherent ability that is not only God-given but is also a fundamental building block of faith.

One of the primary tenets of Jonah Lehrer in his latest book Imagine: How Creativity Works is that we are all creative. It is not that some of us are endowed with inventive imaginations and a propensity for insights and inspirations. Rather, he argues, we are all blessed with much the same mental hardware (from the familiar right and left brains to the more obscure Anterior Superior Temporal Gyrus), and thus the differences in creative output are more a result of nurturing, environment, and the recognition of problems to be solved. There are, he explains, even beneficial side effects to creativity associated with conditions like ADHD.
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Book Trailer for
Imagine: How Creativity Works
Jonah Lehrer.
Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
Watch for our review in the near future…

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“Sustaining the Creative Life
by using Small Beans”

A Review of
Rumors of Water:
Thoughts on Creativity & Writing
By L.L. Barkat

Review by Denise Frame Harlan.


LL Barkat - Rumors of WaterRumors of Water:
Thoughts on Creativity and Writing
By L.L. Barkat.
Paperback: T.S. Poetry Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

The secret of the prolific writer: to agree to use… the ingredients at hand.

Small beans. A scourge of pantry moths eats its way through L.L.Barkat’s collection of grains, leaving only the Japanese adzuki beans. Thus the adzuki—the small beans—become a substitute in all recipes. One bean salad recipe requires tomatoes and cider vinegar, for which the poet substitutes oranges and mint, rendering the final dish into something new and beyond duplication. That is how a poet cooks: with a hint of desperation, perhaps, but also with flourish of grace, and confidence enough in the ingredients at hand. We use what we have. It’s all we can do.

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“The Red Wheelbarrow, Imagination,
and the Christian Poet”

A Review of Spring and All
by William Carlos Williams


Review by Joel E. Jacobson


SPRING AND ALL: POEMS - Wm. Carlos WilliamsSpring and All: Poems.
Facsimile Edition
William Carlos Williams
Paperback: New Directions, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

At some point in their academic career, most liberal arts college students will be required to read William Carlos Williams’s poem about the red wheelbarrow:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens (74)

My own experience proves to be no different, as I first met the red wheelbarrow as a college freshman. My professor blathered on for 45 minutes regarding the essential images and the mastery of sound and syllables in the terse lines. My response was typical of many students I have worked with since: the red wheelbarrow is pointless; what a stupid little poem.

Years later I find myself reading as much of Williams as possible, being repeatedly drawn to the same poem I so despised as a student. I realize now that my professor failed to contextualize the poem as part of a larger, groundbreaking work exploring imagination and creativity, context which, when missing, beheads the chickens. Thus, evaluating the greater work of Spring and All leads us to a better understanding of the wheelbarrow, creativity, and the origins of both.

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“An Ambling Dinner  Conversation

A review of
Making is Connecting

by David Gauntlett
.

Review by Josh Mayo.

MAKING IS CONNECTING - David GauntlettMaking is Connecting
David Gauntlett
.
Paperback: Polity, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Most readers understand (unconsciously, if not consciously) the dual-nature of sociological studies like Making is Connecting: simply put, this kind of writer is always preoccupied with both informing and evaluating cultural trends. Occasionally, an author will reach at both goals; often, most do not.

David Gauntlett is an odd duck for media studies. Most notably, he is fun to read. His droll and accessible style makes him the curious foil to other heavier, field-related notables like Marshall McLuhan and Jacques Ellul. This is, however, both an attractive and regrettable quality to the book. In exchange for “fun,” the project trades argument, and the result is that Making is Connecting reads much like a dinner conversation: an amble though the author’s semi-collected thoughts on favorite hobbies and intellectuals.

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“Art Work/Soul Work”

A Review of
Awakening the Creative Spirit:
Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction
(A Spiritual Directors International Book)

Christine Valters Paintner and Betsey Beckman

Reviewed by Margaret D. McGee.


Awakening the Creative Spirit:
Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction
(A Spiritual Directors International Book)
Christine Valters Paintner and Betsey Beckman.
Paperback: Morehouse Publishing, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

AWAKENING THE CREATIVE SPIRIT - Paintner / BeckmanWhen fear stops the tongue, or grief envelops the soul, or a period of transition makes the way ahead appear dark and confused, a healthy way to deal with chaotic emotions is to make them into art. By giving painful experiences and scary feelings external shape and form, making art also makes a safe place to integrate those experiences and feelings into the whole of life. Similarly, a time of joy or fulfillment can be embodied in a piece of art, making whole and real what might otherwise be just a fleeting moment, quickly lost.

Trouble is, many of us don’t see ourselves as artists, or as having more than one or two ways to express our creativity. In Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction, Christine Valters Painter and Betsey Beckman offer a variety inviting paths into creative expression as soul work. Ostensibly addressed to spiritual directors working with individuals and groups, Awakening the Creative Spirit will be useful to pastors, retreat leaders, therapists, educators, or anyone who offers spiritual care to others and wants to use expressive arts in their work.

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