Scary Answers

I teach a class called “Imagination” as part of the core curriculum for Entrepreneurship at OSU.  The OKSU OSU.  I teach and assign projects in an “Open Ended” manner, on purpose.  Even when I explain, “If I tell you how to do a journal entry, and what topics to cover, I would not have seen the 20+ formats I have seen work creatively for  so many students.”

Three students will drop the class immediately when we leave the room.

One bright eyed, intent student will ask, “How many words do you want in an entry?”

We have taught students in years of schooling that there is one correct answer, the teacher’s way of doing things, and no matter what the teacher says, she is absolutely looking for one answer in the discussion.  She will smile through all the other answers, but she ends the discussion when we arrive at the right answer.

In creativity, and in innovation, we can find hundreds of answers, and all might work. — with work.

Christianity seems similar.  Many people accept that we are a mess, in need of saving, and God did this elaborate, astonishing thing in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we only have to accept.  One answer.  Does not demand too much to accept.

Craig Groeschel preached this morning in his Selfless series.  He described how to see God in the moment (even in the grind) and develop new answers, new growth, see the tough things through to the end.

Crickets.  Twenty people applaud, and the rest sit in super quiet mode, eyes a little glazed over.  Millions of correct answers — with work.  Too much for some people.

The on”oanswer fits all” is a great way to build audiences, to increase church attendance.  The millions of possible answers, the kind we must work out not knowing if we are right, trusting through the falling on your face times, and trusting God is guiding — builds Christ followers.

Graduate from the answers Someone else constructed, so you only have to answer “I accept” or “I am afraid” to the answers that mutate, grow, stretch us, slap us into next week, and force us to depend on God to follow God.

It is scarier, more demanding, and full of pitfalls, like all good adventures.

On That Street in Aspen

I teach Creativity at Oklahoma State University.  

I am amazingly uncreative on many days.  Fortunately (Providentially) I married a horse wrangler on a guest ranch some time ago, and she is creative in places that matter.

In our home, our sons, our life together.

So last August, she showed me the money set aside, told me she had already committed miles on a hotel in Carbondale, CO — to try and catch the aspen turning.  We would leave while I was teaching, launching businesses, and consulting and drive long and — you know, it wasn’t hard.  It was wondrous.  

 

And we saw the aspen turning, but not before Doug told us he had seen them the week before and “They will all be gone when you get there.”

Dear Doug, they have many, many more aspen than your census guessed.  Dear everyone else, go anyway.  

We walked through golden groves where the cobalt blue of the sky straight up hurt, it was that breath taking.  Some times I just sighed.  Sometimes I actually held my breath.  

My wife created those moments.  She is braver, smarter, and more open than I am.  She should probably teach a class on Creativity.  And she got me to this street in Aspen, CO out front of this gallery.  (See the photo On a Street in Aspen).  I slowed and I stopped.  Jill did so for a second, and trooped inside the rough brick and ample glass wall.  I was mesmerized by the sculpture, and said so to the tall, leaning or languishing against the street lamp, staring at it as well.  

I commented how stunningly the artist put each person’s hands in the anatomically correct “space” in the trio of the woman singing, flanked by the sax player and pianist.  He started telling me a story of how people have tried to guess who the men were, playing with Billie Hollday (I think).  They played without credits on her record, so as not to violate their own recording contracts with other labels — because they loved the music.  They loved her.  

As my wife, an artist, absorbed everything inside, I lingered to talk to this man, leaning against the lamp post on this street outside the gallery.  His gallery.

He loved owning the gallery so much, and knew that not everyone would stop and go in to appreciate his artists’ amazing work(s), but passersby would slow down, stop, and stare from outside, that he could then talk to them, ensnare them in stories of how the art was birthed.  Beautiful stories.

That guy leaning against the lamp post outside that expensive piece of real estate set under a full moon shining down on golden groves on the flanks of those imposing mountains — he is the true genius of marketing.  Someone who loves bringing what he brings to us all so much, that he would stand in the crisp night air and talk about the beautiful things that had found their ways to his gallery — hoping to find another home.