Constraint and Transcendence: Theology and the Umwelt of Creativity

Nicola Hoggard Creegan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter I argue that all creativity is grounded and transcendent - part grammar, part divination, as the German theologian Schleiermacher said of interpretation. Even our most soaring and precocious creations have their origins in the perceptions and intuitions of our animal past and our sentient perceptive selves. Creativity like freedom is constrained. Theological creativity is also constrained and imaginative, undergirded by the tradition and the Scriptures and the doctrines of Incarnation and Spirit. These speak to the intermingling of divinity and humanity, transcendence and flesh, the 'unwelt' of creativity. Theology asks the most profound human questions about human existence and about God. I argue from examples of creativity that groundedness and imagination are not incompatible. I use the work of phenomenology to bring our intellectual activity back into contact with our embodied selves. The concept of God and infinity then, are necessarily entwined with the finite and ordinary. Creativity is examined in the work of Elizabeth Johnson and the novelist Iain McEwan.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreativity and Spirituality
Subtitle of host publicationA Multidisciplinary Perspective
EditorsMaureen Miner, Tony Dowson
Place of PublicationNorth Carolina
PublisherInformation Age Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781681236650
ISBN (Print)9781681236636, 9781681236643
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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