On The Opposite Of Creativity

Thanks to some research I have been doing with a friend and co-worker of mine, I have read many dozens of books on the subject of creativity and innovation and thought about the subject from a variety of different perspectives.  I was recently reading a book that discussed creativity from the point of view of organizations and I suddenly thought that it would be worthwhile as well to talk about those organizations where innovation and creativity are not appreciated at all.  One of the most effective ways to talk about a quality is to ponder when its opposite is appreciated or when the inverse of those things that would lead someone to be thought of as creative or innovative are the qualities that are treasured and appreciated in a given culture.  As it happens, I happen to be very personally familiar with cultures that do not particularly appreciate creativity or innovation and it is worthwhile to ponder how this is the case and why.

In light of the spirit of 11 1/2 weird rules to follow when it comes to cultivating curiosity in an organization, I would like to propose the exact opposite rules in order to make sure that creativity is made as rare as possible:  hire only those who are able to master the organizational code and how to work well with others, hire only those one is comfortable with, hire only those one absolutely needs, use job interviews to screen candidates, absolutely prohibit and harshly punish people for defying and disobeying authority, resolutely seek to avoid any conflict or disagreement whatsoever and label conflict-prone people as divisive, punish failure but reward success and inaction, seek to do only those things that one is reasonably confident of success in, avoid thinking of ridiculous things, spend a great deal of time trying to deal with the concerns of customers and critics, seek to study the solutions that other people have for problems, remember the past and glory in past successes.  When one phrases the exact opposite of the sort of rules that cultivate innovation one can create institutions and organizations that absolutely throttle innovation and stifle creativity, and the odds are good that such anti-creativity principles are more common than the opposite.

We might ask ourselves why creativity would not be appreciated in certain organizations and in certain contexts.  For example, I attend a church which was formed out of a doctrinal crisis from those who (like me) did not appreciate those in authority making drastic and unbiblical doctrinal changes.  As a result of that it was made deliberately difficult to make any shift or change in doctrine at all (not that this stopped people from continually suspecting this in times of great stress).  In this sort of environment and culture, creativity and innovation are viewed at in a decidedly negative way, and understandably so.  Indeed, when it comes to proper religious belief, a high degree of conservatism and a marked reluctance to seek new and generally bad ideas is itself a tendency highly to be praised.  The amount of space of new but generally untried and unknown ideas that are good is far smaller than the amount of innovations that are bad when it comes to religious doctrine and practice.  There are far, far more ways to go wrong than to go right in such a space, and this tends to strongly discourage creativity and innovation in such areas.

Would there be ways to make this temperamental and reflexive conservatism less marked?  There are at least a few possibilities.  A religious tradition that recognizes the multi-layered aspect of the Bible may be amenable to learning new layers so long as they are not viewed as being in contradiction with existing truth and understanding.  It is far easier to accept a new understanding if it is a new application in addition to what one already understands or a new area where something is applied without negating or denying any existing areas where a given verse is applied or understood as relevant.  We may thus understand a hostility in general to creativity and innovation as not hindering a deepening of one’s existing understanding, but being strongly resistant to changes to one’s existing understanding.  Having a proper understanding of what sort of creativity and innovation and novelty is involved can help reduce stress.

There are other ways of allowing for a certain degree of creativity without hindering one’s firmness of understanding of practice, and this is a certain willingness to label one’s own thinking and musing and pondering as speculation or inference rather than as firm conviction.  People are in general more willing to tolerate those whose thinking is admittedly creative and unusual and eccentric so long as that comes with a willingness to see such exploration and imagination and novelty as speculative without the sort of arrogance that tends to come from those who believe that they have new truth and understanding while viewing others as defective for being more traditional or old-fashioned or conservative in their approach.  All too often people who are creative and innovative tend not to be very humble about the general quality of their ideas, and tend to look down on those who (understandably) prefer what is tried and true to what is untried and new and not very secure.  This is as severe a problem as the tendency to be hostile to anything one is unfamiliar with, as that which is speculative and new needs to be dealt with in a gracious matter that thoughtfully addresses the legitimate concerns of people who don’t like change all that much, which is basically everyone.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings, On Creativity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to On The Opposite Of Creativity

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The On Creativity Project | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Catharine Martin says:

    Yes, introducing an innovative idea or belief is more easily accepted (or at least tolerated) if it is presented as an extension of an already-understood precept. Take, for example, the principle of a “third” resurrection. The issue at hand is really nothing more than the definition of the word. Resurrection has to do with God returning the spirit of a person back to him in order to bring him to life; either spiritual or physical, depending on the type of spirit he had at death. But when a person rebels against God and the holy spirit is taken from him in this life, the natural spirit in man, which had bonded with it, dies also. There is no spirit for God to render back to him, so there can be no “resurrection” for such a person. Revelation 20:12 states a specific time that “the dead are brought before God” to be judged according to their works and by the Book of Life. But their names are not written there because they remain dead. All that remains of them is their physicality, which is then destroyed in the lake of fire. They were not resurrected back to life; they had been conscious, but lacking sanity, “weeping and gnashing their teeth” during the 100-year general judgment period for humanity. They had remained in their graves during that time (see the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.) UCG agrees that there is a set-aside judgment specific to these individuals; they simply refer to it as another resurrection, which is not an accurate way to describe it.

    • I agree that an extension of an already-understood concept or an inference from that which is already believed and understood are viewed with a great deal more positivity than something that seems to come out of the blue. For example, the extension that the end of the second resurrection should be considered a separate resurrection is viewed more favorably by most than the inference from 1 Corinthians 6 that demons as well as mankind will be a part of that judgment with the possibility of a favorable judgment for both of these rebellious species, provided there is repentance.

  3. Catharine Martin says:

    Isn’t it interesting that the scriptures indicate that the latter will happen instead of the former? We pray that “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (where there was 100% retention when the angelic rebellion occurred) yet, we exclude God’s spiritual creation when He states His will is that “none should perish but that all should come to salvation.” Psalm 36:6 shows that His judgments are very deep; “He preserves both man and beast”; beast being translated from the Hebrew behemeh–the creature described more fully in Job 40:15-24. Verse 19 states that only their Creator can “bring near the sword”–only Christ can condemn them. The word “preserve” in Psalm 36:6 includes in its definition “saves for salvation.” The gist of many verses put together “here a little, there a little” show a merciful Creator whose shed blood indeed covers ALL sin and gives ALL the opportunity for repentance. Christ warns us in Matthew 7:1-2 not to condemn other human beings. This warning also applies to those whose condemnation will come from Christ and no other.

    • Yes, that’ quite true. But we judge things from our own perspective and fail to see that in the eyes of God, we and demons are both deceived and rebellious creations of His. Indeed, we should avoid condemning until Christ does it.

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