The Best Way to Kill a Creative Genius

Tell him there is “nothing new under the sun,” as Solomon says.

If you grew up in church you may have heard this phrase quoted many times like it is the words of Christ. It’s not.

In fact, Solomon was quite possibly depressed when he wrote it. When was the last time you allowed a depressed person guide your life?

This quote got to me throughout my life until recently. I grew up in church and I believe the Bible to be God’s Word, so everything in it must be something to live by, right?

Wrong. Some things are simply true accounts of what happened for us to learn from. This quote from Solomon is a case in point.

The quote comes from Ecclesiastes, where Solomon struggles to find the meaning of life. He finds it 12 chapters after this quote.

Last fall, at Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit, one of the speakers spoke at length about all of the things since Solomon that HAVE been new.

Like the resurrection.
Like Jesus walking on water.
Like computers.
Like the fact that I am writing this post on an iPhone.

After a bit it begins to sound ridiculous that I ever took this quote to heart as anything more than a true description of a soul struggling through dark days.

I’ve been there, and it sure feels like nothing special is going on when I’m there.

But there are special things going on.

Like the book you are writing.
Like the new song you are writing for your church.
Like the new backgrounds you are creating for the new series at your church.

Like your life. It’s never been lived before, and you get to bring it to life.

There is something new under the sun, so don’t let the depressed and negative people in your life distract you. In fact, don’t let them in your life at all. They’re not worth it.

Go do something new just to spite them.

Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, Solomon.

What new thing are you going to do today?

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3 thoughts on “The Best Way to Kill a Creative Genius

  1. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
    — Ecclesiastes 1:9

    I get your interpretation, but I wonder if there is something deeper in the text. The passage, in my view, isn’t about whether or not we can do something that wasn’t done before — I don’t think wise Solomon would be very wise to doubt that. He even tells us: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh.” So he is not ignorant of the fact that “new” things are produced.

    Indeed, he goes even further: “new” things are constantly being (re)produced. Everything is new. But if everything is “new,” if new things are constantly being (re)produced, then this process of (re)production must itself be — old. Indeed, this is the process of nature, of life and death, of creation and destruction, of filling and emptying, etc. — and has been around since the beginning of time.

    And if you think about it, it’s true: things may be more complex now than before, but that doesn’t mean they are more meaningful. Can we truly say, for example, that things are more meaningful now than in the time of Solomon? Or that things were more meaningful in the time of Solomon than they were for Abraham? Nature. Life. God. These things all express the same intensity of freedom, of energy, of vitality, whether in Abraham’s time, or Moses’ time, or Jesus’ time, or our time. This is something that is not “new,” but is rather eternal, stretching from the beginning to the end of time (i.e. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be…”).

    As an artist, this idea is actually inspiring — not depressing. For me, the purpose of art is not simply to create something new. That’s easy to do. The purpose of art is rather to communicate old, fundamental truths of human nature in ways that have never been done before. It’s always to ground people’s new experiences in the context of basic, yet meaningful truths.

    Mark Blasini

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