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Responding to the Search for the Beautiful


What does it mean to practice creativity?

In the current issue of Spectrum, that topic is explored in multiple ways. Of course, it is addressed in the articles such as Aaron Beaumont's candid discussion about the importance of process in creating music. He says, “creativity is the art of sitting down to create with intention—to practice creativity and view the world creatively—that makes all the difference.”

To encourage reader creativity, the art that we choose for the cover and throughout the journal is designed for coloring. We intend to give prizes for the best work that is returned to us by readers. That contest continues for one more week. See the information at the bottom of this article about how you can be involved. I have been inspired anew by what we have received thus far.

Creativity can be the production of something—a painting, a piece of music, but it can also come in terms of how you think.

Inspiration for creative thinking came for me at the annual meetings of religion and biblical scholars where everyone from Adventists and Atheists to Wiccans and Zoorastrians gathered to exchange papers, network, and buy books.  Theological talk filled the air, the restaurants, the hotels, the city. Famous authors were honored. Two huge exhibit halls were filled with the wares of book publishers hoping to interest university professors into requiring their texts for classes.

As an observer rather than a scholar, I find these sessions to be a wonderful time to listen to major voices. This year it was the comments by Marilynne Robinson that helped me look at Adventist history and community in a new way.

Having just picked up Robinson’s latest book of essays “The Givenness of Things” and spent the plane ride to Atlanta reading them, I was happy to see the American Academy of Religion present her with its “Religion and the Arts Award.” At a special session, one of the panel of questioners put this one to her: “How do we turn around the story of religion in our culture?”

“That’s a hard question,” she responded noting that one of the things that we have done is to engage in anti-reading, cynicism. Known as an admirer of John Calvin, she said that when she began reading his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” she looked for the beautiful passages and found a celebration of humankind.

In our culture, media seek out the negative and give it as much attention as possible.
She thinks that the thing that should sustain religious people is the beautiful, and that we should forgive that which is less beautiful. “Give people a positive access to what is theirs,” she said. “Undercutting impoverishes the narrative.”

Looking for the beautiful in a fractured community has its challenges. It does take practice. But the process creates an openness for joy and hope that is pure serendipity. You might find it in the art of children in their Sabbath School class. Or, in an art gallery at an Adventist university. It might be in the prayer of the head elder during a worship service. Or, in a thoughtful sermon that makes you look at a Bible text in a new way.

It gives me great pleasure to tell you that in response to the invitation that we issued in the journal we have received both art and music. The illustration accompanying this article is one of the submissions to the coloring contest by Carol June Hooker of Landover Hills, Maryland. Dennis Meier of Hamburg, Germany sent us music. Click the link to hear his keyboard improvisation on SoundCloud: Listen for free.

If you would like to be part of the coloring contest, here is a PDF to print and color. To download, click on the link below, which will take you to the image page. Then click the blue "DOWNLOAD" button.

Spectrum Coloring Contest Download (PDF)

Mail your submission to Spectrum, PO Box 619047, Roseville, CA 95661. Wednesday, March 2, is the deadline for submissions. If you would like to scan and e-mail your artwork, please send it to

If you'd like to become a member of Adventist Forum and receive Spectrum Magazine quarterly, PLEASE CLICK HERE.


Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.

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