“The artist needs faith . . . our faith gives structure to work. It is breath. It is skeleton. It is vision. Still, with belief systems comes a danger for the artist—the danger of fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism is rigid and certain—like a prison. It leaves no room for doubt, no room for exploring or creating outside of the acceptable boxes. It is the polar opposite of creativity, the enemy of art. Fundamentalism is not limited to traditional religions like Christianity or Islam—there are fundamentalists in every stream of though. There are fundamentalist atheists whose worldview is rigid with certainty. Even the ‘nothing in particular’ belief can become dogmatic and arrogant. The fundamentalist’s worldview is one that is not open to the unexpected or the new. It is a closed system.
Fundamentalism is not the same thing as healthy faith. Healthy faith is a gift held in open hands. There is humility in this kind of faith, a hope, an acknowledgment of the possibility of error and the need for growth and change. This openness leaves room for creativity. Fundamentalism, on the other hand, holds beliefs with a clenched fist. Fundamentalism is rooted in arrogance. It thrives in fear and control and darkness. Fundamentalism runs planes into buildings and straps bombs to the chests of devout and gullible young men. Fundamentalism divides people into groups of ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It wages wars, systemizes racism, censors expression.
Healthy faith, on the other hand, is responsible for some of the most beautiful human expressions and social justice in the world. Aside from creating much of the most important and nourishing art throughout history, people of faith have been responsible for feeding countless hungry people, adopting orphans, caring for widows, and negotiating peace treaties. If you go to any urban center and look for who is working there to care for the homeless of that city, you will find people of faith. Good faith makes the world a better place.That is why fundamentalism is so abhorrent. It’s a perversion of something that is supposed to be good" (113-4).
Incidentally, the Gospel accounts offer a prime example of the integration of "faith" and "creativity": the authors take the story of Jesus and fashion it particularly for the needs of the communities to whom they are writing. Their "creativity"--far from compromising "faith"--serves to enhance it. And, as Fee/Stuart suggest in their little book "Reading the Bible for All Its Worth," the Gospels provide the contemporary reader with a hermeneutical guide of sorts. In other words, just as they fashioned the Jesus-story to address their audiences, so also we should tell the same Story ("faith") in fresh ways ("creativity") in order to achieve maximum impact.