Apples for our teacher


John Lennon and Steve Jobs had a massive influence on popular culture, not least in breaking totally new ground in their astonishing creativity.  They have two main things in common:

1)    They both founded multi-million pound corporations called Apple

2)    I have now read biographies of both men.

Each a substantive work, weighing some 1.1kg:  Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Lennon by Philip Norman.  Nevertheless, both highly readable.  In fact, I’ve managed to read Isaacson’s lengthy tome in just two weeks.

Not bad going.

It was fascinating to see the close parallels between the two men.

Both were rejected by their parents and as such had damaged and damaging personalities.  They hurt many people, especially those close to them.  However, both authors make the case that the remarkable creativity of both Lennon and Jobs was not in spite of their flawed backgrounds but as a direct consequence.

I enjoy listening to Don Macleod’s weekly podcast of Radio 3’s Composer of the Week.  I never listen to Radio 3 – the music is generally beyond Classic fm types like myself.  But the life stories are always fascinating.

This week it is the Australian composer Percy Grainger introduced by Macleod as “totally bonkers.”  An appalling background of childhood abuse from both parents produced, as Macleod points out, highly creative and innovative music, not despite but because of . Like most composers, it would seem.

All this I find totally depressing.  Of course I realize that God can use us despite our weaknesses and often because of our weaknesses.

But the question haunts me – does growing up in a supportive network with two loving and responsible parents, affirmed and valued by friends and wider family, result in limited creativity?

There is one exception to this.  Jesus does come across in the Gospels as a together person, at ease with himself and yet a true pioneer.  Of course, he had his detractors.  “A glutton and a drunkard. ”

“Demon-possessed and raving mad. ” “Trying to make himself God.”

These quotes from the Gospels simply reveal the jealousy and suspicion he caused.  But a man who loved life and loved people, all types and including those close to him.

Jesus continues to fascinate me.  I am not sure we have even begun to understand this remarkable man, not least in the loving way he allowed his enemies to cause him terrible suffering.

His secret was his total dependence on God as his heavenly Father and a secure background in the home of Mary and Joseph – the two are closely related.

So as we approach Christmas may God give us the focus, with the intensity of Steve Jobs, to pierce through the glitter and the fairy stories to see the birth of Jesus as it really happened.  These were real people aiming to nurture a little baby in appalling circumstances hunted down by powerful forces and without realising it produced an outcome which the Hebrew prophets could scarcely glimpse, a new creation.  How about that for creativity?