Beyond "Creativity"

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Expanding the Intersection of Theology and the Imagination
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On March 5 DITA welcomed James K. A. Smith to give the 2013 lecture in the "Distinguished Lectures In Theology and the Arts" series.

Smith is the author of Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom and holds the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview at Calvin College. He also serves as editor of Comment magazine and is a senior fellow for The Colossian Forum on Faith, Science and Culture.

According to Smith, humans are not first and foremost “thinking things.” He questioned an account of creativity and the imagination that is purely romantic, expressive or cognitive. Drawing on the philosophical phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, Smith called for an understanding of imagination and creativity that is situated on a bodily-aesthetic level. Imagination is a way to name our bodily, non-cognitive perception of the world, he said. It is the way humans orient themselves within and to the world.

Smith explained that in this way, imagination is broader than the arts; to be human is to imagine yourself through the world. He said this also means that the arts are central to human life, and that an artist is one who stages imaginative encounters that shape and confront other’s imaginations.