“We can only be really creative if we are in harmony with the Creator of the universe. We can only really serve the earth if we accept it under the aegis of God’s word. Then we shall be able to further and fulfill both ourselves and the world.”
From: In the Beginning, p. 52.
It is fitting as I begin this blog, which is a creative work, to start ‘in the beginning’ – with a quote on creativity from Ratzinger’s book of the same name.
The typical modern attitude holds that to be creative means to produce something entirely my own. To be creative is to extend my being, my person, my ego into the raw material of the universe. That’s it, period. The typical modern attitude regarding creative activity is domination and control, especially control of truth, of meaning, of language, of the narrative. Who will get the last word? This is the critical issue of modernity.
Ratzinger reminds us in this quote that the true critical question here is not who gets the last word but ‘who had the first word?’ Furthermore, whose Word is continuing to hold and sustain all reality in existence? There is indeed a Creator God, and his creativity gives being and structure, truth and purpose, to every atom that is. A true creative work must begin there.
To make a contribution to the truth, beauty, and goodness of the world through some creative work, whether it’s composing a sonnet or baking a cake, requires an attentive listening and contemplative beholding of the existing structures of the cosmos. Otherwise, the cake will burn, or fall flat as a pancake. The sonnet will fall flat, too.
And it is in this attentive and contemplative work alone that we can be truly creative and truly ‘fulfill both ourselves and the world.’ God’s creative work is not in competition with ours; unlike Sartre and Nietzsche, we don’t need to do away with God to be creative. His creativity is the foundation, the wellspring, the guarantor of ours. To be in relationship and in obedience to the Creator of All is the only way to have a joyous, full, rich life.