How Orthodoxy Feeds Our Creativity

BY MARK SAYERS

Mark Sayers provides visionary leadership and teaching for Red Church and is gifted in prophetically speaking into the intersection of faith and culture. His books include Disappearing Church: From cultural relevance to Gospel resilienceFacing Leviathan: Leadership, influence and creating in a cultural storm, and others. Join Mark and the rest of the Collective at #Praxis16.


Jackson Pollock became a sensation in the art world of the 1950’s . For centuries everyone had used brushes; yet here was this man, like a dancer, dripping paint with sticks. The paint whirled through the air creating storms of colour that would hang in the air, before splashing across the canvas, creating huge, complex fields of patterned texture.

It was so contemporary. So cutting edge. So modern.

Holding it all together however was one piece of convention and tradition. An anchor of orthodoxy which allowed Pollock to ride upon the waves of creativity. It was the canvas.

The white stretched material created a frame of reference. A set of boundaries, a rectangular limitation.

Without this blank canvas, Pollock’s breakthrough abstract expressionist paintings would not hang in the greatest modern galleries of the world. Instead they would simply be dropped paint, mopped off of Pollock’s studio floor long ago.

It was the orthodoxy of the blank canvas which gave Pollock’s the freedom to truly create.

Our world is obsessed with creativity. It drives our dreams and our economy. Yet our world seeks creativity without limits, restrictions and tradition. This is the heartbeat of modernity. An attempt for the self to be utterly free of restrictions and limits. Ironically this is what ultimately imprisons us. Our desire to live without limitations and definition creates a culture which has turned upon itself; a self hating anti-culture.

Long ago the creator, when forming the universe, set in the grain of the cosmos limits, traditions and restrictions. The Word walked amongst us, his breath fell onto pages of scripture. Dogma and doctrine was formed. Humans needed orthodoxy.

The source of all creativity understood that to be truly creative, humankind needed these limits and restrictions, to soar upon the wind we needed to be tethered to a line held by the creator himself. We needed the orthodoxy of the blank canvas.

Orthodoxy without creativity is still true, but it remains upon the shelf unused, stale and irrelevant.

@@Creativity without orthodoxy ultimately destroys itself. Sawing off the branch upon which it stands.@@

However when you marry creativity and orthodoxy. When you realise that doctrine, dogma and orthodoxy is the canvas, you begin to dance like Pollock, filling the world with magnificent arcs of colour.