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Jan 3 2014
And yet, I believe. Loving our creative God, embracing our paradoxical faith.

During a talk I gave this fall on the psalms, I confessed: I am, in fact, just like King David. Though I acknowledged that many major details of our lives (gender, epoch, occupation, sling-shot skills, number of spouses, and current sex partners, for instance) are as different as different can be, the more of David's psalms I read, the more I realize much of our internal lives are same-same.

We're both walking contradictions.

I ran through the paradoxes that define both me and King David: We're both at times scared and yet overly confident, desperate and thankful, strong but humbled, misfit yet uniquely called, total messes and totally beloved by God. I scanned the room hoping to connect with understanding, nodding heads. While there were a few gazes that met mine and few heads that bobbed in agreement, I met more confused faces, noticed several sideways What is that woman talking about? glances than I'd like.

Apparently, being a walking contraction, a living paradox is not normal. If I'm just like David, then according to the looks I got that day, I'm odd like David. Fair enough.

While being Contradiction Personified may be odd among the general population, it is not so among creative folks. In "Why Creative People Sometimes Make No Sense," Matthew Schuler cites nine examples of the "contradictory traits" often present in creative people, as apparently offered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Creativity.

A few of Csikszentmihalyi's assertions are that creative people are "smart and naïve" at the same time; combine "playfulness and productivity;" "alternate fluently between imagination and fantasy and a rooted sense of reality; are both "rebellious and conservative;" and are passionate and yet objective about our work.

While his conclusions indicate that indeed creative people make no sense (like, the story of the atheist photographer who takes pictures of churches and holy places…), for me, this list makes perfect sense. It confirms something I've long suspected and that is: those of us who find comfort in contractions, who are at ease with our own internal devil's advocates, have a leg of up on this faith of ours, this faith that is nothing short of paradoxical and nonsensical.

In a recent article about the popularity of Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah," Ashley Fetters writes:

Cohen has always been ambiguous about what his "Hallelujah," with its sexual scenery and its religious symbolism, truly "meant."

"This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled," Cohen has said. "But there are moments when we can ... reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that's what I mean by 'Hallelujah.'"

Related Topics:Arts; Faith and Practice
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