You wrote: “I don’t think Jesus is talking of our talent to write or to sing. I believe Jesus is speaking of the talent to teach others, or to be able to solve problems that will help others.”
He was talking about all talents. And no talent is inferior to any other. Absolutely no one can classify one talent as somehow being more valuable and more “worthy” than some other talent. Such a thing is relativistic, and absurd.
You said: “For instance, say that I have invented a device that can suck water out of the air and provide enough clean water for 200-300 people. Wouldn’t this device be invaluable to many of the drought-stricken areas of Africa and Asia? Now, how would our Lord look on me if I kept this invention to my self simply to do parlor tricks at home?”
There is absolutely nothing in official Catholic teaching, Vatican documentation, Canon Law, the Catechism, or any papal publication or encyclical that ANYWHERE requires Catholics to turn over what they invent to the rest of the world, on pain of mortal sin. Such a belief is a bizarre and hurtful opinion only. No Catholic anywhere is obliged to believe it at all. I’m not trying to be insulting. I just feel very strongly about this.
And I must say I resent very much the implication that those who keep their inventions to themselves do so merely to do “parlor tricks” at home. This is a very unpleasant thing to say. It amounts up to little more than a guilt trip, designed to make me and others feel bad about what we do with the results of our creativity. Are you seriously suggesting that I am in danger of going to Hell if I don’t turn my inventions over “for the sake of others?” I think you are certainly suggesting it.
I suspect that most people who think this way are non-creative people. They do not understand the creative mentality at all. Never in my life do I sit down to invent something out of some kind of imaginary “obligation” or “duty” to others. Such a thing is repulsive to me. I think it is repulsive to any genuinely creative person. Truly imaginative, creative people do not enjoy working out of duty or “obligation.” It is repulsive to the very nature of creativity.
Horror writer Stephen King once wrote that “I can write in cold blood (forced writing) if I have to. But it’s not any fun. The stories don’t shine. It is only when I am enjoying the story for the sake of the story that the writing of it truly takes off. If it is done because someone is forcing you to do it, say, for a deadline, it’s no fun at all. That is death for any writer, and, I would say, for any creative person. No joy in the process. But if no one is forcing you to do it, then it’s not work anymore. It’s fun. And if something is fun, you can do it forever.”
This is exactly how I approach ALL my creativity, not just my writing. If it is fun, I can do it forever. And the idea of creating something while having some kind of “obligation” hanging over my head to turn it over to others, or else face damnation in Hell, – is absolutely disgusting. It is not official Church teaching. If I have to worry about Hell, I just won’t invent anything. Problem solved. I’ll shut right down. Why bother taking the risk. You can see why the Church does not officially teach this position in any way, shape or form.
I invent for the pure fun of inventing. I create for the pure sake of creating. I never think of others at all. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I sit alone in my house every day, going deeper and deeper into creativity. I hardly ever go anywhere or see anyone, and this gives me the greatest pleasure. I am one of the happiest people you will ever encounter.
Such a position may strike some people as odd, but it shouldn’t. Psychological studies have shown that persons of higher intelligence have far less problem spending time alone than those with less active thinking. There are things that can be learned and achieved in solitude that could never be accomplished when associating with other people. And some of my achievements are profound indeed.
I don’t care if my discoveries have any use or value. I really could care less. That’s not why I make them. It’s not even a thought in my head. I do it for the fun only. And there is not one single thing in all official Catholic teaching that says I obligated to do otherwise.
If God wants me to turn my discoveries over to other people, He will make it absolutely unmistakable. But apart from this I never think of such things at all.
People writing about how we should use our talents should pause and reflect. Putting pressure on others to turn their creations over to the world just to avoid Hell is an evil position. It should be the task of Catholics to DECREASE needless fear in others, not add to it. This is a good way to produce scrupulosity in others, a very unhealthy conscience. Such a thing can wreck a Catholic. I cannot describe how upset I feel when I see other people talking in this way.