Alice Bass is a writer, creative consultant and award-winning actress living in Orlando, Florida. Called “The Great and Good Philosopher of Arts and Faith” by Act One’s Barbara Nicolosi, Bass works with artists to coach their creativity and business professionals to develop their brand. A graduate of Rollins College and a member of Actor’s Equity she has performed in professional theaters across the U.S. Her scripts can be found at Dramaministry.com and you can visit her blog for essays on creativity and culture at http://www.thefairfax.blogspot.com.
I’m talking with Alice today about her book, The Creative Life: A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination.
LeAnne: I like the subtitle of your book. Why does the Christian imagination need unearthing? How did it get buried in the first place?
Alice: I’m so glad you like the subtitle! Cindy, my editor and I worked very hard to discover it. On a practical level I wanted readers to know it was a Bible study, but also a creativity workbook. My editor and I were tossing around ideas and she asked me, “What do you want people to take away from The Creative Life?”
And I just exploded with all the passion I had for this mission God has given me: “I want people to dig into the Bible, discover what God says about creativity, and unearth their own imaginations in the process.”
Well, Cindy got so excited she practically hung up on me, “I’ll be right back,” and click. A half hour later she called me with what she’d crafted from my thoughts, A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination.
So, it was a very personal, individual idea, something that I needed in my life and for my creativity. Each person (artist, Christian, man or woman) has an imagination that is buried, initially under the Fall. Then our experience teaches us to hide or ignore or compromise our creativity. So freeing our imagination is essential for each of us. Whether you are an artist or not, you have an imagination and it should be such a rich gift to you in your daily life.
As a Christian, your imagination should be a place of blessing. Not only is it a gift from the Creator in His image but Christ, through whom all things are made and in whom all things hold together, Christ has redeemed your imagination. Your creativity can be a place of communion with Him! The thing to do is to experience His Lordship in and through that gift.
LM: Why did you write this book?
AB: When I wrote it, there was almost nothing available on the subject of ‘What does God say about creativity?’ There were several great books for artists, among them Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer and Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle. I felt a need for this distinction between creativity and art because of my experience both in the theater and in ministry. In my life as a professional artist other actors would come to me and say, “I wish I could believe but then I’d have to give up my creativity.” Then at church people would stop me and say, “Oh, I wish I was creative like you.”
Neither perspective made sense to me. It seemed to me that if God is the Creator, he loves artists and longs to endow them with even more creativity. And for the Christian, I really believed that when Christ, the Word of God, was invited into a heart...well, creativity would definitely be one of the results! I also thought that if God was the Creator then everyone, artist or not, was creative. So I set about finding this out for myself by going through God’s Word. The more I discovered, the more I wanted someone to write a book that would be a tool for the believer-artist that would encourage them in their faith and work, giving them reasons why they believe. And I wanted a tool for the Christian to see that they are creative whether they are artists, homemakers, realtors, or missionaries.
LM: Why do Christians fear creativity in themselves?
AB: I think everyone has fears about creativity because it comes from such a vulnerable place in us. Even if you’re just keeping your creativity to yourself, there is a level of fear because a creative idea can lead you down a new path. So creativity is risky for the one offering the idea and scary if you are on the receiving end too. Have you ever sat in a movie theater and thought, “I have no idea where this is going?” That kind of creativity as the audience member has an exhilaration and a tension to it.
For the Christian our relationship to our creativity is very tender. We are renewing our minds and desiring to do as it says in Galatians—think on things that are lovely and pure and beautiful. I think that having our creativity redeemed means that Christ will get in there and root out all the dark stuff from our imaginations. I’ve found that redeeming work is often done by God after I’ve said something terrible or done something hurtful. So it is with my ideas—they might be messy in their raw state and bringing them under God’s authority will separate the wheat from the chaff and that can be quite a delicate operation.
More from Alice Bass about creativity on Thursday.