According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Huff Post: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

Posted: 03/04/2014 8:48 am EST Updated: 03/04/2014 4:59 pm EST

Andy Ryan via Getty Images

Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process.

Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don't have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.

And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they're complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it's not just a stereotype of the "tortured artist" -- artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person.

"It's actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self," Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. "The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self ... Imaginative people have messier minds."

While there's no "typical" creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. Here are 18 things they do differently.

They daydream.


Creative types know, despite what their third-grade teachers may have said, that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time.

According to Kaufman and psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, who co-authored a paper titled "Ode To Positive Constructive Daydreaming," mind-wandering can aid in the process of "creative incubation." And of course, many of us know from experience that our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are elsewhere.

Although daydreaming may seem mindless, a 2012 study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state -- daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it's related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Neuroscientists have also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity.

They observe everything.

The world is a creative person's oyster -- they see possibilities everywhere and are constantly taking in information that becomes fodder for creative expression. As Henry James is widely quoted, a writer is someone on whom "nothing is lost."

The writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times, and said that she wrote down observations about people and events as, ultimately, a way to better understand the complexities and contradictions of her own mind:

"However dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable 'I,'" Didion wrote in her essay On Keeping A Notebook. "We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its marker."

They work the hours that work for them.

Many great artists have said that they do their best work either very early in the morning or late at night. Vladimir Nabokov started writing immediately after he woke up at 6 or 7 a.m., and Frank Lloyd Wright made a practice of waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. and working for several hours before heading back to bed. No matter when it is, individuals with high creative output will often figure out what time it is that their minds start firing up, and structure their days accordingly.

They take time for solitude.


"In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone," wrote the American existential psychologist Rollo May.

Artists and creatives are often stereotyped as being loners, and while this may not actually be the case, solitude can be the key to producing their best work. For Kaufman, this links back to daydreaming -- we need to give ourselves the time alone to simply allow our minds to wander.

"You need to get in touch with that inner monologue to be able to express it," he says. "It's hard to find that inner creative voice if you're ... not getting in touch with yourself and reflecting on yourself."

They turn life's obstacles around.

Many of the most iconic stories and songs of all time have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak -- and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art. An emerging field of psychology called post-traumatic growth is suggesting that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and -- most importantly for creativity -- seeing new possibilities in life.

"A lot of people are able to use that as the fuel they need to come up with a different perspective on reality," says Kaufman. "What's happened is that their view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered at some point in their life, causing them to go on the periphery and see things in a new, fresh light, and that's very conducive to creativity."

They seek out new experiences.


Creative people love to expose themselves to new experiences, sensations and states of mind -- and this openness is a significant predictor of creative output.

"Openness to experience is consistently the strongest predictor of creative achievement," says Kaufman. "This consists of lots of different facets, but they're all related to each other: Intellectual curiosity, thrill seeking, openness to your emotions, openness to fantasy. The thing that brings them all together is a drive for cognitive and behavioral exploration of the world, your inner world and your outer world."

They "fail up."


Resilience is practically a prerequisite for creative success, says Kaufman. Doing creative work is often described as a process of failing repeatedly until you find something that sticks, and creatives -- at least the successful ones -- learn not to take failure so personally.

"Creatives fail and the really good ones fail often," Forbes contributor Steven Kotler wrote in a piece on Einstein's creative genius.

They ask the big questions.

Creative people are insatiably curious -- they generally opt to live the examined life, and even as they get older, maintain a sense of curiosity about life. Whether through intense conversation or solitary mind-wandering, creatives look at the world around them and want to know why, and how, it is the way it is.

They people-watch.


Observant by nature and curious about the lives of others, creative types often love to people-watch -- and they may generate some of their best ideas from it.

"[Marcel] Proust spent almost his whole life people-watching, and he wrote down his observations, and it eventually came out in his books," says Kaufman. "For a lot of writers, people-watching is very important ... They're keen observers of human nature."

They take risks.

Part of doing creative work is taking risks, and many creative types thrive off of taking risks in various aspects of their lives.

"There is a deep and meaningful connection between risk taking and creativity and it's one that's often overlooked," contributor Steven Kotler wrote in Forbes. "Creativity is the act of making something from nothing. It requires making public those bets first placed by imagination. This is not a job for the timid. Time wasted, reputation tarnished, money not well spent -- these are all by-products of creativity gone awry."

They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.


Nietzsche believed that one's life and the world should be viewed as a work of art. Creative types may be more likely to see the world this way, and to constantly seek opportunities for self-expression in everyday life.

"Creative expression is self-expression," says Kaufman. "Creativity is nothing more than an individual expression of your needs, desires and uniqueness."

They follow their true passions.

Creative people tend to be intrinsically motivated -- meaning that they're motivated to act from some internal desire, rather than a desire for external reward or recognition. Psychologists have shown that creative people are energized by challenging activities, a sign of intrinsic motivation, and the research suggests that simply thinking of intrinsic reasons to perform an activity may be enough to boost creativity.

"Eminent creators choose and become passionately involved in challenging, risky problems that provide a powerful sense of power from the ability to use their talents," write M.A. Collins and T.M. Amabile in The Handbook of Creativity.

They get out of their own heads.


Kaufman argues that another purpose of daydreaming is to help us to get out of our own limited perspective and explore other ways of thinking, which can be an important asset to creative work.

"Daydreaming has evolved to allow us to let go of the present," says Kaufman. "The same brain network associated with daydreaming is the brain network associated with theory of mind -- I like calling it the 'imagination brain network' -- it allows you to imagine your future self, but it also allows you to imagine what someone else is thinking."

Research has also suggested that inducing "psychological distance" -- that is, taking another person's perspective or thinking about a question as if it was unreal or unfamiliar -- can boost creative thinking.

They lose track of the time.

Creative types may find that when they're writing, dancing, painting or expressing themselves in another way, they get "in the zone," or what's known as a flow state, which can help them to create at their highest level. Flow is a mental state when an individual transcends conscious thought to reach a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness. When someone is in this state, they're practically immune to any internal or external pressures and distractions that could hinder their performance.

You get into the flow state when you're performing an activity you enjoy that you're good at, but that also challenges you -- as any good creative project does.

"[Creative people] have found the thing they love, but they've also built up the skill in it to be able to get into the flow state," says Kaufman. "The flow state requires a match between your skill set and the task or activity you're engaging in."

They surround themselves with beauty.

Creatives tend to have excellent taste, and as a result, they enjoy being surrounded by beauty.

A study recently published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts showed that musicians -- including orchestra musicians, music teachers, and soloists -- exhibit a high sensitivity and responsiveness to artistic beauty.

They connect the dots.


If there's one thing that distinguishes highly creative people from others, it's the ability to see possibilities where other don't -- or, in other words, vision. Many great artists and writers have said that creativity is simply the ability to connect the dots that others might never think to connect.

In the words of Steve Jobs:
"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."
They constantly shake things up.

Diversity of experience, more than anything else, is critical to creativity, says Kaufman. Creatives like to shake things up, experience new things, and avoid anything that makes life more monotonous or mundane.

"Creative people have more diversity of experiences, and habit is the killer of diversity of experience," says Kaufman.

They make time for mindfulness.

Creative types understand the value of a clear and focused mind -- because their work depends on it. Many artists, entrepreneurs, writers and other creative workers, such as David Lynch, have turned to meditation as a tool for tapping into their most creative state of mind.

And science backs up the idea that mindfulness really can boost your brain power in a number of ways. A 2012 Dutch study suggested that certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking. And mindfulness practices have been linked with improved memory and focus, better emotional well-being, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved mental clarity -- all of which can lead to better creative thought. 


Peter Rollins: De-Centering "Belief" as Christianity's Primary Experience

 
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Questioning Theology: Reflections on De-Centering Practices
 
by Peter Rollins
February 17, 2014
 
A theology that’s genuinely open to questioning eventually hits a point when it must question itself. In other words, a sustained questioning theology thus inevitably leads to the point of questioning theology.
 
This means that the very base from which theological questions are asked itself becomes a question. Apophatic theology (the name given to negative theology) here gives way to a type of auto-deconstructive thinking that uproots and upsets confessional theology without leaving it behind.
 
This is, at any rate, the direction that my own work has taken, from How (Not) to Speak of God through to Idolatry of God and into my forthcoming The Divine Magician.  This approach questions confessional theology from within, opening it up to acknowledging the operative forces of contingency, history and fluidity.
 
More than this, the auto-deconstructive approach to theology is one that opens up a fundamentally different way of understanding faith, an understanding that is rooted in a form of life rather than the affirmation of some particular belief.
 
Dialectically speaking kataphatic thinking (affirmative theology) gives way to apophatic thinking (negative theology) that in turn opens up to forms of radical theology (a theology that negates the negation of apophatic thought). Although, strictly speaking, one could argue that the experience of the apophatic comes first.
 
While this might sound rather abstract and theoretical, the point I want to make is fundamentally a pastoral one. For those of us who want to introduce fluidity to confessional theologies that are too rigid, and open up paths toward a radical faith beyond belief (playing on the ambiguity of that phrase) all we need to do is encourage people to ask questions from within the tradition they already find themselves.
 
In the words of John Caputo, we must help them discover the power of the word ‘perhaps,’ introducing it into the lexicon of their dogmatic assertions. While this can sound simple, the problem is that this requires great courage. As I have argued elsewhere, it’s often easier to die for our beliefs (or kill for them) rather than to question them.
 
What we must do then is walk this path ourselves, build mutual respect and trust with others in our traditions, and carefully curate spaces that encourage this questioning; providing practices that allow the power of the “perhaps” to deepen and widen.
 
In my own work I’ve developed what I call De-centering Practices. These are practices that help people undergo a form of lived deconstruction. One that, I believe, opens the way up to a richer, though not necessarily happier, experience of life (what this might mean is a subject that we can’t go into here).
 
If you’re interested in finding out more about de-centering practices I’d encourage you to watch and discuss the following videos with friends and colleagues. They provide a little information concerning what de-centering practices can look like. There are numerous communities engaging in these practices already and my hope is that you might consider either copying one of those mentioned in the videos, or create one of your own.
 
 
Atheism for Lent
 
 
 
 
Evangelism Project
 




The Force of God
 
 
 
 
Pyrotheology - Salvation for Zombies
 
 
 
 
The Idolatry of God
 
 
 
 
 
 

The "God of the Gaps" and ensuing Metaphysical Arguments



As a former Young Earth Creationist (YEC) I was quite familiar with the idea of the "God of the Gaps." Essentially it is the anti-evolutionary position that "biological gaps" exist between evolutionary transitionary forms that could not be explained. This position more-or-less argued for the biblical idea (found in the Genesis creation story) that God made animals and man in their "kinds" as versus the evolutionary idea that an evolutionary species transitioned from one evolutionary level to the next evolutionary level, branching as it goes through specialized biological adaptations in response to the evolutionary environment that it existed within, its needs as a living thing, and need for succession and survival.

For example, a YEC would say that a fish and a mammal are two separately created kinds (or life forms) with no evolutionary forbearance from one to the other. Whereas an evolutionary position would say that the eyes or the jaw bone of the fish persisted from the fish to the amphibian to the reptile and mammal that marks the human species today. So that rather than thinking in the YEC category of a "kind" one should think in the category of "developmental evolutionary transitions." Which is why the idea of a transitionary species (or kinds) becomes the next level of argument with the YEC position pertaining to evolutionary progression.

As the argument goes, if there were transitionary species than why don't we see them? Suffice it to say that this argument is better contextualized within the larger understanding of evolutionary development of which we have suggested several articles to this idea (see the science sections here at this blogsite. Or do a google search using Relevancy22+the topic you wish to find). Succinctly, in answer to the question, the type of transitionary forms that a YEC position is seeking are non-existent, making the YEC argument moot. Why? Because for a good mutation to exist it must survive otherwise it would die as a freak to its species level. Too, these transitionary forms are found everywhere about as pre-evolving forms moving from one level of adaptation to another, while all the while branching off into their own lines of specializing species. Some of which managed to survive major catastrophes like end-of-life volcanic eruptions, meteor bombardment, or large climatic change (depleted oxygenation stages, evolving sea water salination, or the more typical latter-stage glacial periods).



At this point, the "God of the Gaps" idea expanded from primarily one of biological argument to a more generalized form of metaphysical argument. That is, the YEC position would begin to make larger-than-life metaphysical observations based upon its belief system to more generalized (spiritual) principles about God, human history, life, and the basis for all things and where they are going. Basically, a summary logic or teleology of "positional-observations" arguing from an imagined YEC past to a preconceived YEC present with logical inferencing and deductional YEC conjectures towards future expectations and biblical surmise. Thus, a YEC-based Bible will see God differently than a non-YEC Bible with its resultant doctrines. The same will go with YEC-based church doctrine and dogma with their rules of "biblical" engagement with assumed "non-biblical" belief systems as a YEC person would project or hold towards any evolutionary subject portending towards the subject of evolutionary creationism.

Obviously, the error that began at the roots of the YEC argument now becomes even more pronounced as it expands into this next level of metaphysical (or, spiritual) argumentation. However, to be fair, the Christian evolutionist (I prefer the term evolutionary creationist over the older term of theistic evolutionist for reasons previously written about here on this blog) essentially does the same. However, it is hoped that this direction of thinking is based upon a much better foundation allowing for scientific observations than the speculative (and in my estimation, contrived) YEC position unhinged from the evolutionary sciences with its concurrent archaeological and anthropological discoveries both primitive and ancient.


My own YEC indoctrination began with the reading of Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth and Henry M. Morris' The Genesis Record in my teen years. But it was also coupled with well-meaning biblical preaching from my churches, bible-school experiences, and my own set biases about God and His Word. Over time (and based upon my own concurrent studies in science and math) I became less apprehensive towards the subject of cosmologic, geologic, and biologic evolutionary formation, and more open to the idea that my initial youthful prejudices may have been ill-informed and naive. Now don't get me wrong, I willingly attended and participated in any YEC conference that was in my area... so I am well-acquainted with the early days of YEC argument against science and it's projected "manipulation" by evolutionary atheists and agnostics with an axe to grind against any-and-all things "God." The arguments I heard have been well-drilled into my mind and heart, but forgive me when I say that I began to find their arguments fabricated and baseless. And once they became suspect, they fell hard and fast, with no further personal need for their support, or my own personal need to cling to them any longer, when becoming more aware of the fallacy of their foundation and argument.

Even so, it took a long while for me to move past my early YEC indoctrination. Probably several decades to say the least while I began to read and explore Earth's evolutionary history (incredibly, Stephen Hawking helped here, though it was written from an implied non-God, mechanistic perspective). And it wasn't until wandering through the large display halls of the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum in the badlands of Alberta that I began to understand the sublimity of the Lord's creational handiwork as I look upon the fossilized (and not precast) bones of ancient reptilian beasts. The force of the argument came home in the ancient seas beds of this most ancient of primeval of worlds. Consequently, the grandness of God's primeval design, and the majesty of His almighty council, demanded my past theological training to absorb and reflect upon the truths of both the process and the Creator of evolutionary creationism. In essence, I would need to re-think my whole approach to biblical studies, doctrines, and my faith in general because of this belated realization. Essentially, this effort was initiated but several years ago when I began developing this blogsite for a fuller, more post-evangelic depiction of biblical doctrine and dogma. And it has been my steady pleasure to re-write (or re-envisage) orthodox church doctrine from a non-YEC, evolutionary informed basis telling of God our Creator from every conceivable viewpoint and angle as I have had time to develop these ideas with so few resources as aide and guide. Though I would later discover those same resources were everywhere about in so simple a place as Wikipedia.com. It just required a different lens. A lens that would admit God into evolution and not withhold His presence from its topic.
 
To my further surprise I have found that I am not alone, and am presently in the forefront with a number of biblical scholars and theologians who have likewise been doing the same. Some I have followed here, whilst others I have not. Overall, the impact of this mindful research upon biblical doctrine has become immense. And as any long term reader to this site will tell you, it has been a fun and exciting time of discovery and re-examination of our Christian faith - it's wonders and the intricacies of how it all falls together in a nice and neat heap. But the greatest wonder of all was in discovering how amazing our God really is when uncoupled from my hardened lines of set theological boundaries and non-admits. Once those belief-barriers fell I soon rediscovered both God and His Word in a new and more fulfilling way. It has been a journey full of surprise and wonder. One that I do not regret and am quite passionate about.

In conclusion, what attracted me to Dr. Olson's article below is not his arguments about "God in the Gaps" vs. science (Dr. Olson comes from the old school of orthodoxy, and is himself, on a similar journey to mine but more along the lines of resurrecting the historical doctrines of the church according to contemporary theology and scholarship). It is his studied observation that a YEC-informed doctrinal position predisposes one towards YEC-based metaphysical arguments about God and His Word. Even as an Evolutionary Creationist would likewise hold a resultant doctrinal position influencing church doctrine and dogma. Hence, my real attraction to this topic today is the explanation of how one's epistemology affects, informs, and influences one's metaphysical positions.... Hence, the caution to be careful to investigate the path you trod (or inherited, as was my own personal background).

Not to mention that we do great error in thinking about God in the objective terms of syllogistic argument rather than in the subjective terms of an "I-Thou" relationship. To argue about God and His Word is perhaps necessary, but it will miss the central need of the Creator beheld in meaningful relationship with His creation (and yet, either position will tell you that!). That God is no less a thing, than we our things. That God is a living entity bound to His creation as living entities with all the sublime import that that means as relational beings in fellowship with one another. That we do harm to ourselves and to our fellowship in trying to capture God as an argument or principle when He most desires to capture us with His love, faithfulness, and presence. That was the real attractor here when reading Dr. Olson's ensuring chapter on the "God of the Gaps." That God desires us as persons - and not defenders or apologists to His existence (or creation). That He has created His creation in terms of communion, presence, relationship. And to this accord I think both the Young Earth Creationists and Evolutionary Creationist can agree and attest as brothers and sisters in the Lord, who is our great Creator-Redeemer. Peace.

R.E. Slater
March 4, 2014



* * * * * * * * * *


The “God of the Gaps”: Right Use, Wrong Use
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2014/02/the-god-of-the-gaps-right-use-wrong-use/
The Royal Tyrell Museum of Palenontology