CHAPTER 11 - Creativity and Morals: The New Ethic of Creativity
The creative New Testament morals of evangelic love have not been revealed in the Christian world—they have only been rarely glimpsed, like lighting flashes, in the lives of such chosen spirits as St. Francis. Christianity was oriented towards the world as a religion of obedience rather than a religion of love.
Christianity, as the revelation of grace, freedom and love, is something other than a set of morals under the law.
Traditional Christian morals are hostile to all heroism, to all heroic upswing of life, to heroic impulse, to heroic sacrifice. Traditional morals of the Christian world are bourgeois in the profoundest sense of the word.
In the patristic, traditionally Christian consciousness, negative virtues—humility, self-denial, abstinence—eclipsed the positive virtues of courage, nobility and honor.
(Christian morality) is impregnated with the pathos of small acts and modest situations; it is afraid of great, heroic, broad-winged action. And the lack of wings has been raised almost to the rank of religious heroism.
This type of morality has no love for the heights; it is hostile to any aristocratic spirit.
Everything which evaluates a man not by his innate qualities but rather by his situation or the milieu in which he lives is bourgeois.
The Christian conquest of “this world” is a conquest of all bourgeoisity; it is the sacrifice of worldly profit and well-being to nobility and beauty as a way of life.
Man cannot live in this world and create new life using only the morality of submission, only the morality of conflict with his own sins. One who lives in constant terror at his own sins is powerless to accomplish anything in the world.
Every man must pass through the redemption and commune with its mystery. The moment of redemption from sin in the life of a man is inevitably connected with obedience and humility, with renunciation of self-assertion, with the sacrifice of spiritual pride.
But it is impossible to construct a whole life-ethic on humility and submission. If they are recognized as the only guides of life, the great moments of humility and submissiveness can easily be turned into slavery, hypocrisy and spiritual death. Spiritual efforts of humility and submission are only movements on the way—the goal is the creation of new life in love.
The moral ideal of the Church Fathers was that of “starchestvo”—the tradition of certain holy elders in the monasteries. It decries youth, it denies the creative impulse and upsurge; it is afraid of youth.
Through the redemption the world will come to a new creative morality of youth in the Spirit of Christ. Christ, the Absolute Man, is eternally young.
The morality of the Gospels is carefree and does not permit of worrying. The care-burdened morality, the morality of worry, is the bourgeois morality of this world. The morals of the elders easily turn into the morals of old age, the morals of constant fear, constant anxiety, constant concern about the troubles of tomorrow, perpetual denial of the divinely care-free birds of the heaven and the lilies of the field.
Creative morality cannot be based upon separating and placing opposite each other the human and the divine. Creative morality will always reveal the seraphic nature of man.
There is a morality of the aristocratic nobility of the spirit and a morality of the serf-like plebeian spirit. Christian morality is not slavishly-plebeian but rather aristocratically-noble, the morality of the sons of God, with their primogeniture, their high birth and their high calling. Christianity is the religion of the strong in spirit, not the weak. The Christian ethic is an ethic of spiritual victory rather than spiritual defeat.
True Christian morality lays on man, who has become a son of God, free responsibility for his own fate and for the fate of the world.
The whole worth of man is in his participation in God and in divine life, in his striving upward.
When man is aided by the God-man Redeemer, this is not some external help, alien to man’s nature, but an inward aid which reveals his own natural likeness to God, his own participation in divine life. Christ is not outside us but within us. He is the Absolute Man in us. He is our communion with the Holy Trinity.
The religion of Christ is the religion of man’s highest powers—it is the very opposite of all weakness or depression in man. Christianity is a way of the revelation in every man of the Man Absolute.
The way of Christian morality leads through sacrifice to creativeness, through renunciation of this world to the creation of a new world and a new life.
Christianity does not permit a lowering of quality for the sake of quantity—it is wholly in quality, i.e. in aristocratic value.
Christian morality is always something of the heights, something which uplifts, rather than a thing of the valley, something which flattens out.
In the world-crisis of morals the longing for moral creativeness is struggling forth, the longing for morals as creativeness rather than obedience. The crisis of moralism, the protest against the law of moral submission, is also a foretaste of a new world-epoch, an epoch of creativeness.
Never yet, in any epoch, has there been born out of canonic morality a new community of men. Like every other law, morality has done more to denounce evil than to create higher truth in life.
Average morality, which has held off the beginning of the end, which hides the ultimate limits of being, must itself sooner or later come to an end and be overcome by the creative effort of the human spirit.
What, then, is the essence of the moral crisis? The essence is above all a revolutionary movement from a consciousness for which morality means submission to a general-average law, over to a consciousness for which morality is a creative problem of individuality.
Creative morality is not the fulfillment of law; it is the revelation of man in moral creativeness. The sinful side of human nature remains oriented towards the law, but its creative side surpasses the law.
In our bourgeois epoch, the task of creating a spiritual chivalry, a chivalry of the spirit, stands before the elect of mankind with new compulsive power. That every value is aristocratic—this is the revelation of the spirit of chivalry.
Aristocratic morals (in the metaphysical rather than the social sense of the word) are morals of value, of quality, of individuality, of creativeness. And every degradation of value, of quality, of individuality or creativeness is a sin against God and against the divine in Man.