In the last of an otherwise not especially satisfying short series of articles for National Catholic Reporter, covering his objections to Robert Sirico‘s Catholic-flavored economic libertarianism, Michael Sean Winters arrives at something I found pretty wonderful, an idea that elevates the whole series: ‘the model for Christian creativity is the receptive, dependent, suffering creativity of Jesus, the Son’ — which he attributes to David Schindler. I take with caution Winters’ elaboration, that ‘there is nothing protean, nothing self-made, nothing frugal or thrifty, nothing self-assertive, nothing competitive, nothing greedy or self-interested in the lives of Jesus and His Mother,’ since it is certainly possible in a qualified way to see the Jesus of the gospels as self-assertive and competitive (to the point of combativeness) in his social and political context. (The all-important qualification is that Jesus’ self-assertion comes with, and for a believing reading definitely out of, a messianic self-awareness oriented to revelation and relationship to transcendent authority. It may even be promethean (as I think Winters means), in a sense, but apart from a prejudicial reading, from sources external to the narratives themselves, it can never be taken for mere self-expression or self-satisfaction.)
From the beginning of my off-&-on writing here I’ve wanted to explore my sense — from experience, mainly — that creativity is basically receptive (not to say passive) rather than productive. I’ve never really done so explicitly, though. At best, I guess, I’ve been oblique, on rare occasion — hinting I’d like to re-frame my old interest in ‘design culture’ as belonging to ‘reading.’ For one thing, my theological background just isn’t up to the discussion, and I think getting anywhere with it demands a theology. Finding Winters’ reference here gives me some hope of coming to the theme anew.