I once asked my super-Christian father what it means for man to be made in the image of God. His answer is something that has stuck with me for years, even through my abandonment of his faith. He said that God created man, and gave us the urge to create. I think this is a beautiful way to look at the world.
I don’t know if man is created in the image of the gods. I do believe that humans need to create. To create is to touch our higher natures. What could be more righteous than the creation of something beautiful, like a novel, from the mind? In these acts of creation we are certainly like the gods who created the world from the body of Ymir. By creating things for others we are like Odin and his brothers, giving a piece of our consciousness to others with no real hope of reward.
Creation implies discipline. How many people are inspired by great ideas but lack the discipline to make them reality? Creativity is more than having good ideas. It is writing them down on paper. It is writing on when writers’ block strikes. It is playing the piano when practice is boring. It is learning to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” so that someday we can write the music of our hearts.
Creation also implies courage. No great book, song, or poem is written with certain knowledge that it will be a success. For every Metallica that turns into a super-star band, there are a thousand small bands that play simply for the joy of creation. Putting your creation out into the world exposes it (and you) to criticism by people who lack the discipline to ever create themselves.
Above all, creation is love. Very few people have ever successfully created something they didn’t love. In any creative undertaking, the probability of becoming successful and famous is miniscule. Those who create out of anything other than love for their creation usually can’t stay the course. Those who create out of love create the most beautiful parts of our world. Through appreciating their work, we can appreciate the love they lavished on it.
In creation we give a part of ourselves to the world. This seems like a true analogy to the gods who gave of themselves to create the world. I may not see the love of God in the crucifixion, but I see the love of the gods every day when the wind turns over the leaves and I remember that the gods created this world just that we might appreciate it.