In the past few days, along with all the global love-in that is the face of the Olympic games in London, we have also been bombarded with reminders that we as humans are all too capable of construing even the most positive messages to express discrimination, hatred, shame, pain, and exclusion.
Now I am an artist, and part of my own journey has been for me to be able to imagine myself as cast in God's image, as in Genesis:
Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image, in our likeness...
So God created humanity in God's own image,
in the image of God he created them;male and female he created them. "
The key to this for me as an artist has always been that, since it is God's nature to begin the relationship with humans as the Great Creator, and since we are cast in God's image, it is our nature to be creative as well. When we manifest our creativity through imagination, we are pursuing a vision of beauty or possibilities (as in the Mars landing-Woot! Woot!) or achievements and know that in reaching for these, we are living in the way God designed us to live. This is how we are hard-wired.
So, by extension I mean that when Gabby Douglas works and sacrifices and creates a splendid routine on the uneven bars, it is because her programming via that little spark of God's creative spirit drives her to want to create something beautiful and unique. When Richard Diebenkorn painted his severe and different landscapes, he was exercising his creative DNA. We all have it, and if you think about it long enough you can identify a part of your life in which that spark of divine fire becomes manifest. It could be that you have an uncanny ability to bake without a recipe, or follow a hunch in the laboratory that saves thousands of lives.
Each of us has this within us. Genesis doesn't teach that the only creative people God imagines are Christian people or those in the United States or those who vote conservative. Creative people of all stripes are imbued with the same divine spark as Michelangelo, Sally Ride, or Boris Johnson. So it's heartbreaking to realize that the other immutable truth about God, which is absolutely essential to the creative human being and particularly to the artist, is so often forgotten through judgmental-ism, by humans with a cause, or a grudge, or just plain fear.
I was reminded of this truth today: the corollary to the Genesis teaching is this. We are all adopted into the heart of the Divine Creator (I don't care if you use the term God or Allah or Jehovah or Bruce Almighty to name this Creator) because of the Creator's unconditional love. By any name, the force of love we're shown adopts us into the heart of God, which humans so often fail to consider.
Think of it for a moment. What else do we fail to consider because of our own personal spin, because we don't think of ourselves or others as precious children of God? What if we toss a thoughtless piece of criticism at an artist? What is heard is not "your art isn't good enough", what is heard is "YOU are not good."
When we try to whitewash hating actions or hateful comments as "freedom of speech" what is heard is "YOU are no good." When we patronize businesses which support hate groups, we are paying for the shaming that is done to the target group. This is unequivocal despite how much other good a business may try to do. It is simply irresponsible and contrary to the nature of God.
Supporting a business that sponsors organizations that cause pain and unfairness means we are endorsing, not merely permitting, hateful and even violent acts against them. It doesn't take a scholar to point out that paying the tab for the lobbying efforts to discriminate against immigrants, ethnic groups, LGBT persons, and religious groups, is the same as telling those targeted persons, "YOU are no good."
It strikes me as being fairly easy to recognize the value of grace on the part of an Olympian like Gabby Douglas, who finished last in her individual bars competition. There is no shame in taking the high road when our particular desire is not met. The greater blessing is harder to recognize in everyday living...when because of our fear, or our doctrine, or even our traditions we cannot concede the unconditional love of God for other human beings who were created, just as we were, with that spark of divine fire.
The tragedy of the attack on the Sikh temple is shocking and pathetic, especially when we realize that the practice and beliefs of the Sikhs are to love God and pursue God's truth. They respect other religions in a way that escapes many nominal Christians. Respect and loving regard of all people is central to their faith.
The support of hate groups which have caused violence, suicides, and division of families through the donations of businesses is no less a tragedy, although no guns are waved and individual stories are not often told. Such action also says "YOU are no good".
The God who creates calls us all to create. The Creator who loves calls us all to love.
“Indeed, a quick glance around this broken world makes it painfully obvious that we don't need more arguments on behalf of God; we need more people who live as if they are in covenant with Unconditional Love, which is our best definition of God.”
- Robin R. Meyers, from Saving Jesus from the Church