The LEGO Movie and the Metaphysics of Creativity

The LEGO Movie and the Metaphysics of Creativity

On September 2, the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture published the following essay by Veritas Humanities teacher Dr. Jim Watkins.  To read the full piece, continue to:  We are thrilled to re-publish the opening paragraphs of this thoughtful and inspiring essay here:

What does it take to be creative? Or, for you to be creative? What sort of person creates the next artistic masterpiece or technological advance? In thoroughly entertaining, action-packed cinematography, the LEGO Movie can help us explore these questions. Truly, the most important reason to watch the LEGO Movie is to be reminded that creativity is ultimately not about you. Being a creative person is inextricably bound up with the community you live in and even the very universe you inhabit.

Let me be clear from the outset that this essay is not really a review of the LEGO Movie. I have no wish to pass judgment upon the movie as a movie, though it is probably obvious that I enjoyed it. Nor do I even wish to write a Christian review of the LEGO Movie, or explore its “message” or its supposed “worldview.” Instead, using the movie as a kind of dialogue partner, I believe this film can help us to think more clearly about the nature of creativity and about the conditions that must exist for creativity to flourish. In conversation with the LEGO Movie, we’ll discover a richer, more colorful understanding of creativity.

Let’s ask the LEGO Movie three questions that press toward a metaphysics of creativity. By metaphysics I mean an inquiry into the ultimate categories of existence. The three questions are:

What sort of world must one have for creativity to flourish?

What sort of community must one have for creativity to flourish?

What sort of person must one be for creativity to flourish?Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 9.46.51 PM

I think the movie offers some interesting, perhaps surprising, answers to these questions, and they can be summarized in a single sentence:

Creativity flourishes in a world of contingency and necessity, in a community of freedom and responsibility, and in a person who is selfless and self-expressive.

Continue reading this thought-provoking essay on the competing tensions that birth great creativity at:

From the Washington Institute’s bio of Dr. Watkins:

Jim Watkins lives in Richmond, VA with his wife and four LEGO-loving boys, and he teaches Upper School Humanities and Bible at Veritas School.  In 2012, he received a PhD through the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews.  He also studied at Regent College (M.C.S., Christianity and the Arts) and Wheaton College (B. A., Studio Art). He is currently revising his forthcoming book Creativity as Sacrifice: Toward a Theological Model for Creativity in the Arts (Fortress Press, Spring 2015).