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The Creative Spirit Separate From God…

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by Teisha Hickman
December 4, 2012 11:16 AM
22 Comments
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Watching film and television lately I’ve picked up on subtle and sometimes sequins and neon emblazoned jabs at Jesus, Christians, and Christianity as a whole.

Honestly I understand why it happens. Those who spew hate and other sheer foolishness in the name of God can cause onlookers to wonder, “Who are these people and is there still a purpose for the God they serve?

But as it becomes more and more common place for “artists,” to rely on themselves and bluntly eliminate God from the equation, I wonder where that leaves groups so traditionally steeped in the spirit.

For much of history, African Americans deeply-rooted faith, has not only colored personal, but creative life. There was, and still is, an underlying if not innate desire to put forth stories with an intent to not only entertain, but leave the atmosphere better, warmer and forever change, after the credits rolled and the lights rose.

Even when the message being delivered was a call to step out of the shadows, and to fight for a place in the sun, there was still a moral compass.

If we succumb to mounting pressure that says we are all we need; that God is myth and his word metaphor… If we turn away from the very thing that has kept many of us together in our personal lives and caused us to stand out in our creative ones; will we fall prey to greatly compromising our integrity, rather than aiding in shaping the world around us?

Instead of speaking to the heart, will we play to baser human nature in order to elicit response? Relying on emotions like fear or parlor tricks, and shallow spectacle to gain an audience?

Has it already begun?

I’m concerned. Am I the only one?

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22 Comments

  • Blackman | December 6, 2012 2:50 AMReply

    I believe in the CREATOR. whomever in the fugg that is. I meditate and get right with nature, consciousness and the universe NOT this Sick Insane MONEY,POWER, NARCISSISTIC and Materialistic world. I am also tired of Christians. Especially the hypocritical judgmental kind, yesterday a semi=drunk woman was telling everybody to REPENT in the name of jesus. lol. I BELIEVE in the Creative Spirit. I do NOT believe in Gods. Especially, european gods given to Black people during slavery. Btw, What in the hell have that god did to advance Blacks. (STOP! for every step forward you can name, I can name TWO steps backward). Moreover, myths are just that MYTHS. And hanging onto to 2000 year old parables is ludicrous. Here is a question, How many times have you heard Billionaires "Thank Jesus?" (okra don't count). In essence the "creative spirit" is living YOUR LIFE through YOUR OWN path. Your own lived experiences. NOT some outside entity that you pray away your POWER TOO. I never externalize power. the creator do not need my worship, money or rituals.

  • Robert A. Hayes | December 5, 2012 10:45 PMReply

    At this point what we've chosen in this life to believe or not to believe is surely not debatable... and what we'll face after this is surely not optional... might as well go boldly on your paths.

  • Troy | December 5, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    I believe the image is more pointed than the article. The non-existent monolith that is African Americans should not be the subjected demo but Black Women should be. American black women are the most Christian leaning group in America. Their struggles for gaining broader media appeal seems to be the only thing in the way of them Willie Lynching us to salvation. Strong Christian values seems to be the only motivation for the advancement of colored people. Hey we're African American now, you know equal to all those European Anericans whose strong Christian values motivated them to extoll freedom of religion, to fight the war on Christmas, and declare Christianity a philosophy not a religion. Diatribe to say: The Creative Spirit embodies the totality of the applicators arsenal. The said, if not for pre-association with (a) God many people would have nothing creative to articulate. So I'm not for the separation of art and any God. Odds are the jokes the writer heard were written by Jews. You know the ones with a religion older than Christians and Muslims. They tend to not take other religions too seriously.

  • Muse | December 5, 2012 12:46 PMReply

    I was disappointed by this article because I was expecting specific examples from tv shows and films to support your argument. What happened to the golden rule of writing: show, don't tell? This is not a typical S&A caliber essay. What's a particular scene from a show that illustrates your point about taking "neon emblazoned jabs at Jesus, Christians, and Christianity as a whole"?

  • Sunningdale | December 6, 2012 6:23 AM

    @MUSE-- That's exactly what I was thinking. I love it when S&A presents a point of thought that also makes the reader think. But this piece reeks of pseudo-intellectualism; a random, self-serving statement on group-think that exposes the writer as a peddler of dribble-speak. After reading it, I felt like, "WTF is this chick talking about?" It just might be the worst post on the entire indieWIRE network this year.

  • Fariso Jordan | December 4, 2012 8:03 PMReply

    This article is so relevant to me as I am working to grow my profession as an artist who is Christian. First, all I can say is that for me, personally, it is impossible for me to separate creativity from God. And I would never want to. I don't know how others are able to find success without Him. The best part about co-creating with God: I don't have to try so hard. The other best part about it: When led by His creativity, it is impossible for me to fail. Just think about it. God is the most creative entity alive. He created the universe, He created all of the different types of flowers and fingerprints and ethnicities and landscaping. As an artist who loves God, I am so empowered to be attached to His same type of creativity. My well will never, ever run dry. It goes on and on and on just like God goes on and on and on. People say, "there is nothing new under the sun" but with God I know that I am over the sun so my original God ideas continue to flow through me and I am so grateful for that. I wish that everyone would at least give it a try and overcome the false stereotypes of God Himself, and what Christian art really is. Working through God's creativity is the most inspirational, powerful, productive, original, necessary, impossible to fail type of work that can ever be done.

  • Tamara | December 4, 2012 4:20 PMReply

    Instead of speaking to the heart, will we play to baser human nature in order to elicit response? ... I thought of Beasts of the Southern Wild when I read this query. Particularly the feel of primeval I got from the piece; the fecundity of earth; the "base" nature of satisfying hunger and thirst literally and figuratively to coincide with "base" nature of satisfying human emotion in all forms: longing, lust, anger, shame, etc. I think Beasts... elicited a particularly familiar emotional response from me -sans- any mention of Christianity. Creating some such tale as Beasts without soliciting the input of one's belief can still be achieved without sacrificing the moral compass...or whatever. Furrowing my brow here.

  • Troy | December 5, 2012 2:06 PM

    Could faith or hope or belief in a higher power be considered a base component to human nature?

  • Tamara | December 4, 2012 9:31 PM

    thanks Teisha for the background information.

  • Teisha | December 4, 2012 5:43 PM

    Hey Sis, I wasn't planning on responding to any of the comments and I'm only doing so because you brought up Beasts of the Southern Wild. One of the writers of the film and the women whose play the film was adapted from, Lucy Alibar, is deeply Christian. The title of the faith doesn't have to be mentioned for God to be at its source.

  • Jeni | December 4, 2012 2:59 PMReply

    After reflecting on it, I get what you're saying, but you needed to be blunt about it. I'm a Christian, and I am finding that TV writers are now frequently using blatant blasphemy to seem edgy. It's one thing to make jokes about shared religious experiences, quite another to slander scripture and religious figures. I started noticing this trend during the Bush administration, and it was like Comedy Central's key stars started doing it in reaction to religious conservatives in the media. Honestly, this weekend I probably turned from or discontinued watching no less than four programs/movies because of flagrantly offensive content specifically written to provoke Christians. I don't see similar jokes/comments in regard to Islam or Judaism, so I wonder why network censors are allowing it re Christianity. Comedy Central and Adult Swim are the worst offenders, but I've seen it on Fox and CBS as well. I'm actually surprised that the megachurch pastors aren't speaking out about it, but the best way to get rid of offensive content is to change the channel and hit the content creators/distributors in their pocketbooks.

  • Man-Over-Bored | December 5, 2012 3:35 PM

    Jeni, you say: "I'm actually surprised that the megachurch pastors aren't speaking out about it." Perhaps they're a bit too preoccupied doing the things that make them (and the rest of you professed Christians) such rich comic fodder for the edgy (i.e., truth-telling) comics to which you allude!

  • Troy | December 5, 2012 2:00 PM

    Goal accomplished. Fox News-esque article says Christians are being attacked, audience says we are I'm a witness, why aren't my Christian leaders doing anything about it, we should be attacking them(hit the content creators/distributors in their pocketbooks). I understand surely your gang is bigger, tougher, and has a more violent past then the gang that is a television network/production company/writer's union. Jon Stewart is a Jew who jokes on Jews, Muslims, and right wing Christians. Now the demographic that doesn't have a title and is completely avoided in these attacks are the 74% of black women in America that consider themselves Christians. One of the a.k.a.s could be Tyler Perry's Target Audience(TPTA).

  • Vanessa Martinez | December 4, 2012 12:05 PMReply

    I believe that God is way more sensible, complex and intelligent than people give him credit for. A reason why I don't believe in organized religion is because of its limiting views and restrictions outside of a book that has been interpreted by humans through centuries. You can have your believe in God or a "higher power/divinity" and still explore your talents while living in this world. God gave us talents and free will for a reason. He would want us to use them and feel good about them. I think everyone needs to find what works for them in order to find spiritual fulfillment and happiness. God, peace, love, art & the expression of our human condition all co-exist in my world.

  • Jasmine | December 4, 2012 12:02 PMReply

    So I am Christian and an artist. I get what this piece was trying to get at; it is frustrating to hear from all sides that what you do and believe is foolish in any regard. However this piece is unfortunately worded in that didactic "us vs them" mentality. This should be for black Christians to ponder over but is instead worded for blacks as a whole, which as some have already pointed out, isn't fair.

  • theyounglion | December 4, 2012 11:55 AMReply

    You seem to be coming from the viewpoint that belief in "God" should be the norm, and anything else is abnormal. You're also assuming that works that "leave the atmosphere better, warmer" and promote "forever change" need to be rooted in religious belief. (That sounds like that belief some people actually still have that having a moral compass requires belief in a god.) And I don't see how taking "God" out of the equation is "compromising our integrity". I respect and appreciate African American artists that take their cues from spirituality and/or religion, especially if the work is well done. But I also respect and appreciate African American artists that bring a decidedly non-religious perspective to their work, especially since those artists are pretty much in the minority.

  • FutureDiplomat | December 4, 2012 11:54 AMReply

    If more African American artists "succumb to mounting pressure that says we are all we need", and perhaps realize that it is not a deity, rather their own tenacity and strength that aids their successes, I believe it is for the better.

    The Harlem Renaissance was led by many Atheists and Freethinkers; perhaps a similar artistic movement will be led by Blacks of their same ilk. This doesn't concern me - it makes me very optimistic about the future of the African American artist in the creative world.

  • niksmit | December 4, 2012 11:29 AMReply

    I'm not an artist, but I am an African American. My lack of belief in a God has not compromised my personal integrity. You acknowledged those who spew foolishness in the name of God, so you already know that integrity and religious faith don't go hand in hand.

    I respect the historical role of the church in African American history, but there have always been non-believers in it. People still need to come together to create and maintain community, but I don't believe that a shared religious belief is the only way to do that.

  • niksmit | December 4, 2012 11:33 AM

    I forgot to add that artists who believe will continue to make art that supports and respects their beliefs. See: Tyler Perry and all of his success.

  • Winston | December 4, 2012 11:24 AMReply

    Wow . . . where to begin? I'm concerned that this propaganda is even posted on Shadow and Act. First, I wish people would stop lumping all blacks in America as bible-thumping Christians. Blacks in this country, and all over the world, hold a variety of faiths. How about showing a little consideration for those of us who don't believe in the same doctrine? This post-- not cool.

  • Nadia | December 4, 2012 11:56 AM

    Slow your role Winston. Seriously. This is one article on a site that rarely, if ever, writes anything that speaks to that audience. I don't think anyone is going to read this and suddenly think that all black Americans are bible-thumping Christians. I also think you're being way too presumptuous. Maybe you haven't been paying attention but there's a significant black american audience that this article speaks to. You may have heard of Tyler Perry and that whole entire faith-based entertainment movement that you see folks moving into quickly because of how lucrative it is. So if this doesn't speak to you, keep it moving. You can disagree and debate, but don't try to suppress other voices. That's one of the things I love about this site. You'll get a nice range of voices and opinions. Just like you said in your comment about blacks holding a variety of faiths, blacks also hold a variety of opinions.

  • sandra | December 4, 2012 11:42 AM

    @Winston - I vehemently disagree with the article, but I don't fault Shadow and Act for allowing everyone to have a voice. Freedom of speech right? Why should religious voices be censured? Why should S&A be labeled propaganda-lovers? Black folks (like all groups) are not monolithic so we must allow voices to be heard and discuss issues in a mature way. I believe there is a place for God in my art. I just don't subscribe to the rigid eurocentric images of God "the father who punishes".

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