Creativity and Christianity

Now I know this is controversial but sometimes I just have to say things…

This morning my son finally got round to giving me the letters from school from last week that had been stashed under his football boots, biscuit wrappers and homework in his school bag…

I should explain. I didn’t want my children to go to a faith school. But in this part of rural Gloucestershire there isn’t a lot of choice- most of the primary schools are faith schools and looking at both the non- faith and faith ones, many of them weren’t really cutting the mustard when looking for a school for a child who taught himself to read at the age of 2 1/2. After the inevitable shuffles from one school to another, there comes a point when you give in and admit defeat because it’s clear you’re going to have to give in to your principles….

It’s bad enough that in 6 1/2 years of my children attending this school, I’ve only been invited in twice (by the same infant class teacher) as a real deal (ok atheist but deeply cultural) Jew who can say Hebrew prayers and bring in home made challah and grandma’s genuine Shabbat candlesticks so the children can participate in a real Shabbat celebration, or dreidels and Chanukiah- the menorah- Chanukah gelt and potato latkes mit apfelmousse for a proper Chanukah festival…. so the children have a very narrow view of life in a quiet 99% white anglo-saxon and mainly very local population. How does this prepare them for the world outside their village? Even for Gloucester which has so many different communities there… let alone, heaven forfend, that any children might go to London to college, or Manchester or Leeds or Birmingham, or even Bristol…

Sometimes I wonder if some people round here would be happier living Laurie Lee like, chewing straws under hay carts and dying of TB….

But then to state that creativity and doodling and making- exploring, dreaming… are Christian values….

So those poor cave men and their amazing art, the ancient Greeks and Romans – so all that wonderful town planning, architecture, sculpture, writing… wasn’t creative?  the native peoples of Australasia, the Americas, Asia, the Arab and Jewish philosophers, the Moorish tile makers, fountain designers and sculptors, the Islamic mathematicians and Chinese scientists -the many writers, architects, musicians, poets, artists… the list is endless- who were not, who are not Christian- how does it equate?

What kind of world do we want our children and our friends’ children to live in? A bigoted  one or one where we celebrate humanity, human values, global values and a wish for understanding, tolerance and curiosity for all forms of creativity? And at a time when from the  USA to the Middle East we see and hear so much ignorance and lack of respect, now is not the time to give creativity a narrow religious slant.

It is only through creativity and imaginative thinking that we will ever get ourselves out of the mess we’re in.

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