What has amazed me in recent years, and this week in particular, are the number of churches and religious programs focused on the historical evidence for Biblical events, as if the factual accuracy of a story has a direct relationship to its value. When one needs to solve a mystery or defend a case in court, certainly factual accuracy and verifiable evidence are necessities. But spiritual mysteries are not intended to be solved, and spiritual truths do not need factual defense. Reducing one's faith to a belief in provable data removes a large part of the potential for spiritual growth through self-examination. Why would one be inspired to grow or develop as a human being in response to mere historical fact?
Perhaps my view of the value of spirituality is off-kilter in that regard. It is highly possible that only a small percentage of people now view religion or spiritual practice as a vessel for growth. Factual, historical data does not necessarily compel one to treat other people differently, or to focus one's life in a specifically meaningful way, and that may be what some people prefer about the approach. To me, it always seems that someone is trying to convince me of something when the issue of historical validity enters into a conversation about spirituality. And the evidence they may present to convince me of facts has no bearing on the spiritual value of the story.
Like most other streams of thought, I've been considering how this relates to creative practice as well. I believe that every creative person at some point, even if only for a moment, wrestles with the question of whether what s/he creates has value. There are certainly ways to answer that question based on awards won, commission fees paid, tickets sold, or reviews written. All of that pales in comparison to whether the creative act has value to the creator, and ultimately I believe that is the most important (and least data-driven) answer.
|Milton Babbitt, a sly smile from the Princeton professor|
It all depends on trusting the personal meaning that one finds in what one is doing, however. So, on a day when some would convince me of their beliefs with historical data and impersonal facts, however legitimate or skewed they may be to prove a particular point of view, I am turning instead to what is personally meaningful, seeking that inner trust for what I am creating that will best serve what I can contribute in the world without falling back to the illusion that I have something to prove.