Criticism and Creation: A Meditation

It is much simpler to criticize than it is to create. All criticism takes is a quick wit and a sharp tongue. It requires little investment of the depths of yourself, and you can all the while maintain a safe and respectable distance from committing yourself to anything.

Creation, on the other hand, is a profoundly self-giving and self-sacrificing enterprise. It requires me to pour myself out into a task, to dredge up the deepest parts of myself and give them expression in what it is I am creating. It is a difficult, vulnerable task; one laced with pitfalls and characterized by suffering.

The critic says to the creator, “you’re not doing it right.”

The creator says to the critic, “something must be done.”

I would much rather be a creator. I’m afraid that I’m the critic.

God, You are the Creator who reigns over all of my potential for co-creation. Kindle in me a fire for all of the things that the critics within and without would keep me from doing. Help me to look for the beautiful and the good rather than a smug ability to point out things that are not as they should be while doing nothing about it. Stoke in me a flame of imagination that sees the power and goodness of Your kingdom making all things new.

2 responses to “Criticism and Creation: A Meditation”

  1. Hey Matt,

    After meditating on this blog entry for a second or two, I find myself caught in between these two spheres of existence.

    I think that both are essential to staying alive. When the creator is not doing his job right, then the critic steps in and questions the creators motivations. When the critic falls down into a pit of cyclical walls of intolerance, then the creator helps him out with something beautiful. Maybe we are on different wave-lengths or maybe I am off, but I think that they keep each other accountable in a world that is not perfect.

    In the perfect world I hope that we will all be perfect creations!

    P.S. I hope that didn’t sound to critical…I loved the meditation!

  2. Hey Luke, cheers for the quality comment. What I failed to do in this entry is to define criticism properly.

    When done in the right spirit (like the one you suggest), criticism is indispensable. People recognize this and call it “constructive criticism.” The kind of criticism I was singling out was “destructive” criticism; the kind where the critic tears things down for the sake of tearing things down.

    So, it’s about intentions here, and I would say that criticism of the constructive variety could even fall under the category of creation, because it desires to take what is, and make something even more beautiful.

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