Creativity

Joe Kay 08-21-2014
Costi Iosif / Shutterstock.com

Costi Iosif / Shutterstock.com

Let me tell you about the time I got re-directed by a Pepsi can.

It happened a few years ago. I’d started rethinking a lot of things about my life — what I wanted to accomplish with it, how God played into all of it — and decided to write my thoughts as I went along.

Eventually I got the idea that I could package my writing into a book that might help others who are going through the same things. Writers fantasize about some day having a best-seller; maybe this would be mine. I wrote and wrote and wrote and stepped back one day and read all of it and realized something.

It was awful.

I’m not so good at this type of writing. Expressing thoughts and feelings is a lot harder than reporting on events. Words are so inadequate. It’s so easy to cross the line between being helpful and being insufferable. At times, I sounded like a pompous ass.

So, what to do?

I went back and rewrote. And rewrote again. I decided to try to make it breezier and more conversational — that’ll do the trick. I read it again and realized that I now sounded like a breezy, pompous ass.

It’s called writer’s block, and it felt like a dead end. Maybe I should wait a few years and try again then. Hit define and delete, give up the struggle and move on. That seemed like the best thing to do. Stop trying to create for now.

I went jogging to mull it over.

It was a beautiful autumn evening with a wonderful, warm breeze out of the south. I’d just finished my jog and was walking around the block to cool down, enjoying the wind on my sweaty face, when a sound got my attention.

Lisa Sharon Harper 05-12-2014

The civil right of equal opportunity never ensured the human right of equal access.

Christian Piatt 08-30-2013
Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday, via Facebook

Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday, via Facebook

Trey Pearson, front man and creative mind behind the band, Everyday Sunday, is in many ways the picture of a successful Contemporary Christian Music artist. He’s toured the world, played to thousands of fans at a time and sold hundreds of thousands of records. So I was intrigued when I sat down with him at the recent Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina to learn more about why this icon of Christian pop was going solo with his most recent record. 

How did you get started in the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) scene?

I was introduced to the scene as a teenager, finding out that people listened to "Christian music.” I started going to "Christian concerts,” and was inspired to write my own songs and have a band. I was already into performance art as a teenager from doing theater, musicals, acting, and modeling for commercials, print, and things of that nature. I grew up teaching myself piano, and was intrigued by the idea of playing songs for people. 

Given my background, I felt like I needed to do "Christian songs" to glorify God with my art. Long story short, after opening for several signed artists, I dropped out of college (after being on honor roll through my freshman year) to make an independent album and pursue a record deal. I went to Nashville, and knocked on doors until someone would listen. I signed a deal three months after I released my independent album.

Joe Kay 08-13-2013
 Potter's hands on a wheel, bluelake / Shutterstock.com

Potter's hands on a wheel, bluelake / Shutterstock.com

Biblical writers suggest that God loves a holy mess. They compare God’s creative spirit to a strong wind, and we all know what happens when a powerful wind blows through our windows or through our lives — everything gets upended! One image in Genesis has God scooping up a bit of earth to create us. Yes, God had to get some dirt under the fingernails in order to bring us about.

Jesus was creative in how he touched and healed people, often making himself ritually unclean in the process. He embraced his uncleanliness.

Sadly, many religious institutions discourage us from doing the same.

Curt Devine 05-11-2013

Poster of missing Mexican women and girls.

8 ways to stand against human trafficking.

Bill McKibben 04-03-2013

In February, more than 30,000 demonstrated in Washington, D.C., against the Keystone XL pipeline. Photo by Rick Reinhard.

We can see in our mind's eye all the generations to come, and so we know why we fight.

Anna Broadway 04-13-2012
Caine's Arcade in his dad's auto parts store

Caine's Arcade in his dad's auto parts store

In case you missed it, the viral video of the week is a delightful short film called Caine's Arcade. In the video, a 9 year old from East L.A. constructs an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used car parts store and dons a custom-made shirt on days the arcade is open for business.

But because of their location and changes in the parts market that have moved his dad’s business mostly online, Caine gets no customers until a filmmaker named Nirvan walks in one day.

At long last, Caine gets to present the ticket options (a handmade fun pass costs $2 for 500 turns) When Nirvan wins a game, Caine crawls inside the box to manually dispense Nirvan’s winnings from a the roll of tickets.

Watching the film for the first time this week, I was filled with a joy so overwhelming it eventually brought tears.

Joshua Witchger 04-11-2012

Jon Stewart compares Easter and Passover, The Lion King surpasses The Phantom of the Opera in sales, Central Africa's only all-black symphony gaining attention, Rube Goldberg machine sets new world record, electronic music made from fruits, a fish delivers a TED talk, Webby Award nominees announced, local Chicago music, The Hipster Games, the joys of a nine-year-old's cardboard arcade, and a dramatic twist of events on a quiet square... See this and more on today's Links of Awesomeness...
 

Joshua Witchger 03-07-2012

With Super Tuesday out of the way, take a look at some of McSweeny's more eccentirc exit poll findings. Make your favorite YouTube videos mirror the aesthitic of the Oscar-winning film, The Artist. See some amazingly small apartments and ask yourself, 'How much space do you really need in your house?' And take a listen to some new music from Sufjan Stevens/ Rosie Thomas, Jeff Tweedy's teenage son Spencer, and an 8-bit rendition of The Smiths (aka Super Morrissey Bros). Read today's "Links of Awesomeness" for these links and many others...

Joshua Witchger 03-06-2012
Denison Witmer by Ethan Luck.

Denison Witmer by Ethan Luck.

Singer-songwriter Denison Witmer’s 2005 album Are you a Dreamer? was part of the soundtrack of my adolescence — his calm voice a sonic companion as I navigated the choppy waters of high school insecurities; his complex fingerpicking acoustic guitar style a mentor as I learned to play and write my own music. Witmer’s soulful voice, thoughtful lyrics and inimitable style (some critics have called it “neo-folk” a la Cat Stevens or Nick Drake), has stuck with me for years. Just a snippet of his lyrics or melody can transport me back to precisely where I was when I first heard them, a younger me dreaming of who I might become. 

When Witmer’s latest tour brought him through Washington, D.C. last month, I caught up with him backstage before his gig at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. We talked in the artist lounge and sound check stage, before venturing out for a couple of veggie wraps while exploring a variety of subjects from music and family to saints and beer. And we even managed to persuade him to play a couple of songs for us, which we’ve captured here on video for you. (You’re welcome.)

Joshua Witchger 03-05-2012

Steve Martin reads from The Great Gatsby, the longest chain of human dominoes sets world record, littering receives a big thumbs down, Andrew Bird lyrics are explained, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. offers hop-flavored lip balm, and "The Three Little Pigs" is retold as a breaking news story. See more inside today's links of awesomeness...

Joshua Witchger 03-01-2012

Paper airplane throwing your way into the Book of World Records, creative films on Waldo and "clapping butter," jewelry + aviation, Record Store Day, and Bo Obama invites you to the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll.

Joshua Witchger 02-29-2012

New television ad from Wes Anderson, BBC follows a monkey's quest for alcohol, creative bike frames, phone booth libraries, and a mid-week music update.

Joshua Witchger 02-16-2012

Over the Rhine's husband/wife duo talks music and life together, old CDs are turned into remarkable animal sculptures, Chipotle takes new strides toward humane practices, a spark of fun in family pictures, restaurant serves edible balloons for dessert... and Disney's Lady and the Tramp is given new life. All this and more ... inside the blog.

Joshua Witchger 02-06-2012

Improv Everywhere celebrates its tenth anniversary by remixing and remastering some of its best sketches. The highlights from Puppy Bowl VIII are in (look out for the MVP)! Bon Iver puts on an incredible SNL performance. Bill Maher's "Irritable Bowl Syndrome." Mad Men's promo posters have been tampered with! OK GO's latest music video from the inside of a car. A new look at Downton Abbey and more!

Tripp Hudgins 01-19-2012
SOPA protest illustration from Unvirtuous Abbey via Facebook

SOPA protest illustration from Unvirtuous Abbey via Facebook www.facebook.com/unvirtuous-abbey

"Wisdom wants to be free. As a Christian, I believe there is actually some theology to this....Wisdom is a woman and she stands at the gates of the city and she cries out to the people, 'Be free. Be free to love and be free to share.'...What if we understood creativity to be wisdom?"

Watch Tripp's v-log on SOPA, creativity, freedom and wisdom inside the blog...

Joshua Witchger 01-12-2012

TV's award winning comedy 30 Rock debuts tonight, create your own remixes with Mono's customer appreciation page, discover hidden features on the iPhone, Hostess nears bankruptcy, GOOD's new social justice efforts, and more. Plus videos of chain reaction mechanics performing mundane tasks and a backstage glimpse into the gospel vibes of Wilco, Mavis Staples, and Nick Lowe. 

Joshua Witchger 01-11-2012

When you hear the phrase “the 99 percent,” many different images and ideas come to mind. Much of the mainstream media has depicted the Occupy Movement in a negative light and its participants as "dirty hippies," radicals, stoners or losers.

That’s why Brooklyn photographer Vanessa Bahmani decided to let the 99 percent portray themselves.

Joshua Witchger 12-14-2011

http://youtu.be/zBjQ8a8Udlo

Jesus Toast! A vicar beatboxes the Nativity Story. Butter shortages wreak havoc on Norway. Ten out of Tenn gives away its new Christmas album. Knit some dim sum for your cat. Iconoclastic Hasidic-reggae master Matisyahu shaves his beard, and more!

 

Carrie Adams 12-01-2011
Carrie Adams's square in the (2015)QUILT for an HIV/AIDS free generation.

Carrie Adams's square in the (2015)QUILT for an HIV/AIDS free generation.

ONE and (RED) have started a community art project of sorts, known as the (2015)QUILT. Driven by the goal to have an HIV/AIDS free generation by 2015, ONE and (RED) are focusing on the 1,000 babies born every day to mothers who have HIV/AIDS. The crux is this: get the 1.4 million pregnant women who are HIV positive on meds that cost $0.40 a day (you read that correctly), 98 percent of their babies won’t have HIV/AIDS transferred to them, and soon enough, we have a healthy generation. How easy does that sound?

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