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Oct 28 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 25, 2015 – Genesis 4:19-22

Christian Creativity

Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. Genesis 4:19-22

Intro: This fragment of text reminds us that creative genius sometimes runs in a family

Of all the “required reading” we were assigned in high school, the one book I actually read
– Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Worlds
• I later learned about his brother, Julian Huxley, and grandfather Thomas Huxley
◦ both were famous scientists
• Aldous had a step-brother, Andrew, who won a Nobel Prize in medicine
– then there were also the James brothers
• Henry James, the novelist and his psychologist/philosopher brother, William James

The the backdrop for our story is a family tree
– not often, but occasionally a gem glimmers in one of these boring genealogies
• we know Lamech only through his sons and his obscure poem
• I wonder if it was the poet in him that encouraged the creativity his children displayed
◦ usually, that is all it takes to release a child’s inner genius
– for a few weeks I want to explore creativity

Let’s zoom-in on these ancient inventors

Each one is identified as a “father” (founder) of a trade or craft
– each innovation moved society forward
– there is a simple pattern in the text: two items are connected with each of their names

Jabal, “those who dwell in tents and have livestock”
– if we’re honest, this is the last place we’d look to learn about creativity
• today’s tent-dwelling bedouins live the same as their ancestors centuries ago
• how much creativity required is required in setting up a tent or herding sheep?
– however, if until Jabal humans had lived in caves or mud-brick and stone huts,
• a home with mobility would have been a huge innovation
• spend week on farm or ranch and you’ll see dozens of innovative uses for baling wire
◦ farming and ranching require a great deal more creativity than city folks realize

Our Reflexion community began with a few of us meeting informally on Sunday nights
– a few months ago, I opened a discussion on creativity
• immediately several people announced, “I’m not creative”
◦ but I knew better – I reminded them of what they told us previously
◦ experience at their jobs, with family or during travels
– we tend to associate creativity with the arts or scientific inventions
• but if you can express an idea in speech, you’re creative
• words are the raw material of speech
◦ to embody a thought they must be combined, arranged and modified
◦ we are creative, but it is a quality we may have to nurture

Jubal’s creativity was in the arts; specifically, music
– the kinnor was a small, harp-like; the “pipe” was a flute
• we are not told that he invented these instruments, although that is probably implied
• rather, he was the father of those who played the harp and flute–i.e., musicians
– once discovered, music entered all of life’s experiences
• it was used in festive celebration, to grieve a loss, and in sacred rituals

Tubal-cain is credited for the development of technology — in copper and iron

Marshall McLuhan said of technology, “During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space.”

– for example, the shovels were extensions of our hands, ladders extended our height, etc.
– he makes another interesting observation, that today

“we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.” (And this prior to the Internet!)

• of course, it is in information technology where creativity now runs wild

The text implies that these innovations served the welfare of humankind

Jabal’s contribution: to make life possible in different places and situations
– tents: there is a basic human need for shelter
– livestock: a basic need for sustenance
• we need not think of raising cattle primarily as a meat source
◦ for example, sheep’s wool for clothing and goat’s milk provided protein
◦ donkeys and oxen were useful for heavy tasks, such as hauling and plowing

Jubal’s contribution: to make life beautiful
– music provides the human soul a way to express itself
• and also a way to read the heart of a person–i.e., the musician
– music enables us to touch the soul of others
• to strike similar chords in their thoughts and emotions
• music and poetry (lyrics) help humans to connect, comfort, inspire and entertain

Tubal-cain’s contribution: to make life larger
– to travel further, accomplish more, discover more
• dig deeper and reach higher

What of their creativity is still with us?

I do not mean the artifacts–flute and harp, sword and plowshare
– the industries and institutions and institutions they founded are still here
– the possibility of further human progress through creative imagination is still here

Being a founder, gives person and influence beyond his or her own lifetime
– even if their names are forgotten, we continue to benefit from their contributions
– who hasn’t heard a good cook say, “I learned this little trick from my grandmother”?

Two views of creativity emerged in Greek philosophy

Plato taught that the source of creativity came from outside the artist
– in Greek mythology, a new idea or invention was either given by, or stolen from the gods
– creativity was a supernatural inspiration

Aristotle taught that everything, including every idea, came from something else
– creativity was a rational and explainable process
– this is one of the more popular views today
• there’s no magic to creativity, no sudden gift of insight
◦ the processes leading to insight may be unconscious, but the sequence is logical
◦ one can take a scientific approach to creativity — examine its elements and stages

Surprisingly, our story moves Aristotle’s direction – it demystifies creativity
– these brothers came up with these innovations on their own
• the usual language of God intervening by his Spirit, word or angel does not occur
• Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-cain get the credit for being founders
– but that is only one aspect of their inventiveness, one piece of the puzzle
• an underlying explanation of their creativity: they were made in the image of their Creator

Dorothy Sayers asks what being made in God’s image means. Looking for hints in Genesis chapter one, up to the verse that says God made male and female in his image, “we find only the single assertion, ‘God created.’ The characteristic common to God and man is apparently that: the desire and ability to make things.”

◦ I believe she is correct, although I would observe that we are also told God said and God saw
◦ so I would add that God’s image includes communication and awareness (of self, others, good)
• but my point is that creativity is a God-given gift, but that it is universal

We can acknowledge the value creativity adds to humankind

Nevertheless, societies tend to suppress it–especially totalitarian systems
– institutions, (corporate, government, families) struggle to preserve uniformity
• and enforce conformity–sameness, agreement and the stable systems
• creativity is seen as a threat to these things
– do you think God ever wishes we were more religious?
• that is, pious, rule-based, obsessed with rituals and judgmental toward offenders
• it is religions want us to be more religious
◦ religions, like other institutions, value conformity over creativity
◦ Pharisees promoted conformity, Jesus promoted creativity
“You have heard that it was said . . . but I say to you . . . .”

Conc: We are told that Jubal was father of those who “play harp and flute”

Why do we use “play” when it comes to musical instruments — why not “work”?
– we tend to divide work and play in our thinking (and in our use of time)
• for children, everything is play
• they dream up worlds and then invite others to come play in them
– somewhat frustrated with the crowds, Jesus said:

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” Mt. 11:16-17

• in other words, “No mater what the game, You never wanted to come and play with John or I”

God made us for creativity–we never have to be stuck
– he calls us to new ways to see, new choices to make, new roads to travel
• in fact, at the end of the Book of Revelation, God says:

Behold, I am making all things new (Re. 21:5)

• at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus had said:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock (Re. 3:20)

And he asks, “Will you come and play with Me?”

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