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December 13, 1999



It is time to learn more from its activities.

Come all you creative artists and consider...

Magpies! We have looked at them before, but today, it is a news item. When in Port Elliot recently, we began the practice of feeding magpies with left over porridge and such nourishing items. The magpies would assemble - perhaps 7 - and carol while eating, or having eaten, or when about to eat. The lyrics would assert themselves with sudden dash and fervour.

After some days, a friendly and aspiring individual landed near our door, on a balcony railing. He/she proceeded to present a concert. It was of vast interest, for in many ways, it resembled that of the famed and well-named lyre bird, whose imitations and assemblages rather resemble, at times, variations on an original theme!

This magpie, unlike any one can recall, proceeded to give what seemed diminuendo carols, rather like a commentator's remarks, at odd intervals, while putting in between, elements of cat imitations, dog wow-wows, Come boy, and the like, in a manner fascinating, humorous and like some news reporter, merely presenting for interest, as if by a happy recollection. Out these imitations poured, not wearying the gusto, the verve, and yet at the same time, there was no apparent effort. It was like some Sampras forehand in mid-victory stride: impressive but not occasioning very visible effort.

How creative is how much! Creativity comes with thought, and in the flicking interplay of vitality and instinct, in the forms we possess and the intense variety and variations - again as on an original theme - in the massive display of it in the whole arena of biota. We experience it constantly, we use it, we watch it, we evaluate it, like critics, experience it, like an audience, produce it like artists, know it intimately, understand something of its ways, watch its origins in thought or feeling, in intuition and vision, perceive it grow at times, flourish in the mind and heart, and then, when it is ready, see its stream like a torrent from the mountains, come issuing with the cool waters of the imagination its resource.

As we produce, so are we produced. As we know by doing, so we are by making.

This whole arena of creativity is one in which we have an immense, an intense interest, for we are BOTH exponents and RECEPTORS. Our beings are the outcome of it, our capacities the expression of it and at the same time, functionaries in its cause.

We are not ignorant of the actions and nature of creativity, its subtle suggestiveness, its vast and even at times prodigious outpourings, its verve, its ambition to act, its delight in performance, its sudden reserve and deep searching. We see our own productions and accompany their issuance with experience, which in turn we can in measure analyse. We are such a production and cannot, except as is normal in such affairs, experience its production, since we are the product; yet we can empathise and intuit in the area, at least in some connective tissue of understanding, its exuberance and its depth.

OUR creator is thus not something of an oddity; for if ever there was a bond, here it is. We do what He does, except diminuendo; we achieve what He does, except, as equipment of His production. We create, not merely physically but artistically, as pro-creators, acting indirectly with a creativity creatively implanted, one of the most massive and astounding acts of creation ever performed: the creation of an operator of creativity - of a creator!

Thus fortified by our own everyday experience, we are in an internal laboratory well-equipped and constantly in operation, able to see and sense the works which have produced us; even though, at the summit, the creation of creativity, we are wholly inept; for the nearest we come to that, is in the production of children, by a program creatively installed and automated. In the work of teaching, also, there is some hint; for while emphatically we as teachers do NOT creative creativity in our students, we MAY stimulate it, help to release it, stir it to realise more of its heritage.

Thus with the heavens of the heavens overseen by the Creator, we on earth are yet in touch in this vast and amazing aspect of our work. The kindred but overwhelmingly superior work of our Creator is one to which, by examining the results and comparing their character with what is constantly at work in the created universe, we can relate, like ship's captains, watching a Sydney to Hobart race on TV.  While one of these merely viewing captains cannot KNOW inwardly the exact creative thoughts and managerial actions from WITHIN the skipper whose yacht he watches, he CAN and SHOULD be able, from long experience and intimate realisation of what it meant when HE HIMSELF was skippering, to discern much of what is passing in the mind of the other. The conditions are clear; the needs are being met; the trials, like examinations, are presenting themselves to the sea-going competitor, and from afar, the man of experience can follow much of what is occurring INWARDLY by knowledge of what such tests REQUIRE, the conditions to be met, the options available and THOSE CHOSEN as seen in the outcomes of the race, step by step.


When, of course, it is God who is in action, the infinitude of His wisdom leaves us with far less to discern; but the ARENA of the outcomes, ourselves and actions in our world, being what He made and we inhabit, there is still a vast area of correlation and potential understanding.

What hinders many in this, is an inbuilt, or certainly inward inhibition. IF all these evils, or assaults on our peace, are created, then why! So rings the cry of millions, and over centuries (cf. Anatomy of Pain and Suffering). So the query disturbs for many the simple intelligence of the FACT that the originalities do not come from law, but licence. But why such pain as sometimes arrives ?

There you have it. Yet it is a blind man indeed who does not see the seething sea of sin, like a misted Sargasso, which stirs its tepid waves amongst putrifying humanity. Oh true, it is not all in this condition; but the generics are dismal, grievous and disastrous. This world, in much of its current man-made 
organisation, it  is like school with the science lab burnt down, the ovals dug up and the discipline in shreds.

Look at Kosovo if you can remember it, in view of the fast succeeding headlines of Taiwan, a succulent morsel for the maw of aggrandising China, home not of freedom but of not so subtle, formal linkage with the Chechnyan disaster area of the former Soviet giant; look at Israel and the appetites of the Arabs, despite their vast territories and the slender throated land the Jews have come to, what is left of them after the multiplied billions looted by Hitler, and the other millions slaughtered; yes, look at Africa, self-destructing with AIDS while slaughtering what drought does not remove, with the guns of fury. Look at the 'eternal friendship' of Clinton, professed towards the leader of China, and consider the new-look barbarity towards minorities mutually confirmed by Russia and China. The world is inflamed with shame, and exultant in its worldliness, like a pneumonia patient doing a Cassius gaseous Clay, to use the cliché of the past era.

It does not WANT to acknowledge its sin (cf. Jeremiah 2:35, 10:11 in the former Jewish national case), to the point it is the worthy successor of the ever-innocent school-boy who, whatever he does, CAN do no wrong (officially, that is!). Hence this world in its ways (and the man and woman of this world,  almost routinely) does not WANT to acknowledge  RESPONSIBILITY to the Creator. Hence it does not want to acknowledge His creation. Hence it shuts its eyes to the criteria of creativity, or curses God, as the mood takes it. IT CANNOT be responsible. It MUST assert itself; it MUST watch its self-esteem, even when the very concept becomes a ludicrous parody, in view of the inestimable oblivion of ethics and morality which is its way.

The Creator however is not mocked. Mockery is mere temporising. The judgment will sit. Plagues as in Egypt in Pharaoh's day are numerous and predicted, accruing and threatening in what is all but an operatic billing, the acts going as planned and presented in the Bible. The modern versions mount, as indeed they were, in the setting of former times, mounting in Israel of old (see Amos 4 for an example of cumulative ... calls for attention by such means, from the Almighty!).

What is the end of it ? You see the end of the line in Amos 4, but this time, the end is not merely national, but international:

"I overthrew some of you,
As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
And you were like a firebrand plucked form the burning.
Yet you have not returned to Me," says the Lord.

"Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel;
Because I will do this to you,
Prepared to met your God, O Israel!

"For behold,
He who forms mountains,
And creates the wind,
Who declares to man what His thought is,
And makes the morning darkness,
 Who treads the high places of the earth -
The Lord God of host is His name" - Amos 4:11-13.

"HEAR this word, you cows of Bashan" - this chapter commences. As we have just seen, so it ends!

It is GOD who DECLARES what HIS thought is, it ends. Man proposes, in other words, and God disposes, and this disposing can - in the ultimate against devious and writhing recalcitrance, become dispossession and dispensing with the securities created, or many of them. Man is stripped, and stripping is pain. Man is irresponsible in millions and myriads of ways, socially, and socially is pain; economically, and so there too, pain. The rule of folly is found out, and does not stand, repeatedly over history (cf. SMR pp. 623ff., 611ff.). Throughout the chapter 4 of Amos, the Lord has been exhibiting HIS thought, HIS design, HIS response in the midst of the ignoring mentality of man. NOW HE likewise gives the finale, the end of the script for Israel, declaring what HIS thought is: and that ? "PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD."

It is of the utmost solace, the most extreme and even exuberant joy that this same God is not some austere headmaster, bringing in the recalcitrant students to his office, with only judgment and exposure on his lips. He is not merely denouncing even religious hypocrisy (when they go so far - it is, after all, only one of the breed, as in Amos 5:21 - "I hate, I despise your feast days",  an abhorrence not least because of their deceptively contrived and captious spirit).

It is not just this. He goes far further, offering both reminder and mercy again and again, as Amos 4 shows on the one hand, and the thrust of Amos 9:11-14 -

"On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
 And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old...
I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them."

Indeed, we find it in Micah 7,

"Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage ?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.

"You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea" - from verses 18-20.

THIS mercy is created in a format which expresses its everlasting character, so well displayed in John Masefield's marvel of a poem, The Everlasting Mercy. That format is the Cross of Christ, who dying the just for the unjust, for this current time, even as the new digital millenium approaches, is STILL the ONLY way to God, the EFFECTIVE way to God, the COSTLY way to God whose redemption price involved His own tortured death, the just and true cover for the sins of every man and woman and child who accepts this payment, and turning in repentance of life, seizes by faith the mercy shown (I Peter 3:18, John 1:1-14, 6:40, Acts 11:18, Romans 5:1-11).

THAT ?  there is creativity in its infinite height, with mercy in its vast depth,
reaching beneath all the sin which blinds,
to bring back to the fellowship of God Almighty, even while we are still on earth;
and to our Father's house, both now and hereafter.

What does it say, "Let not your heart be troubeld; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepared a palce for you." Whose word was this ? That of the ONLY ONE who did it! In creation we were not there; in healing and raising of the dead, in prophetic fulfilment and moral empowerment, in fellowship and promise keeping, in logical necessity and profound personal liberality, He the Christ is there, was proclaimed, presented in the insuperable testimony of word and deed, ancient and future, current and effectual (cf. SMR Ch.6).

In my Father's house ? THAT, it is the place. THIS, it is the grace. It is not only hostesses which can be gracious. It is the LORD who has grace which freely offers what is needed (Romans 3:23ff., 6:23, Galatians 3:1-13).