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Less speed indeed

03 February 2017

Penny Seabrook on a book about creativity which proves its point


Too Fast to Think: How to reclaim your creativity in a hyper-connected work culture
Chris Lewis
Kogan Page £14.99
Church Times Bookshop £13.50


CHRIS LEWIS, author, chief executive, and founder of a global communications agency, argues that, in the hyper-connected world we live in, speed is the enemy of creativity and depth. This book, written in a frenetic six weeks, bears witness to the wisdom of his diagnosis.

It opens well by drawing attention to the dangers of instantaneous communication and reactionary nature of our responses to it; maintains interest when explaining the neurological patterns thus engendered; but, ironically, begins to irritate when Lewis gets into his flow and forgets the critical voice that typically constrains creative thinking. Like many a passionate preacher, he loses the thread in the excitement of putting words on the page, closing with a series of interviews that are blind to any sense of ethical ambiguity. In his profit-driven world, what looks good is good.

Those with the stamina for a more scientifically rigorous treatment of the subject will learn more by reading the Nobel Prize-winning Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow; but Chris Lewis writes for his own kind: for people whose creativity is essential to economic success. In other words, he offers a means to an end that typically undermines human spirituality.

I closed the book with a renewed appreciation of the merits of taking time out to enhance the quality of ministry, but am not convinced those who might enjoy this book would have time for a sermon on the subject.

The author makes passing reference to faith, religion, prayer, and mystery, but the merit of his case lies elsewhere. As a Church, we need to think more creatively about how to speak to people whose freedom is constrained by sacrosanct secular values, to remind them that human creativity is a God-given gift, best used when harnessed to a tradition of service and praise.


The Revd Penny Seabrook is Associate Vicar of All Saints’, Fulham, in west London.

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