What I'm Reading

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin

There’s two subjects I enjoy reading about — rock and roll and creativity — and this book combines both of them. Rick Rubin is an illustrious record producer. Besides his work in rock and roll and rap, he resurrected Johnny Cash’s career on his American Recordings. 

Even if you’re not a music fan, you will enjoy this book. Here’s why.

The Creative Act is a series of meditations/brief essays about the nature of creativity. Rubin writes from the wisdom gained from his work producing various bands and performers. He extracts wisdom from his life and professional experience without revealing the artist. Music is the backdrop but not the main player in this book; his insights on creativity is what’s front and center. I repeatedly nodded my heard in agreement with his insights on the creative process.

Here are a couple of quotes to whet your appetite.

Clouds never truly disappear. They change form. They turn into rain and become part of the ocean, and then evaporate and return to being clouds. The same is true of art. Art is a circulation of ideas. What makes them appear new is that they’re combining differently each time they come back. No two clouds are the same.

Material for our work surrounds us at every turn. It’s woven into conversation, nature, chance encounters, and existing works of art.

[Curiosity] is a hunger to see beautiful things, hear beautiful sounds, feel deeper sensations. To learn is to be fascinated and surprised on a continual basis.

It’s helpful to view currents in our culture without feeling obligated to follow the direction of their flow.

In reading Rubin you will discover that he’s a practicing Buddhist. Like the Christian philosopher Arthur Holmes, I believe that “all truth is God’s truth.” In reading authors like Rubin, we sort out the truth through our Biblical grids. There is much in Rubin’s philosophy that coincides with a Christian worldview. 

Rubin loves using words like “universe” and “energy.” When he speaks of the universe “sending out transmission and we must attune our receivers to hear them,” I’m reminded of Psalm 19:1-4. I ‘m praying that Rubin will come to know the personal God who gives definition to Rubin’s non-personal and ethereal universe, a God who became Immanuel — God with us — in Jesus.

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