I really enjoyed the discussion in the comments on this post about Musical Geniuses. Thank you all so much for joining in and sharing your points of view. I wanted to revisit the topic because over the time since then I've continued to ponder the issue. I've mulled over the comments and delved deeper into the reasons behind my stated point of view. I've begun to realize a change in my reasoning-- or perhaps a clarification...
One thing that stood out to me in what many of you said was a reference to God's influence in a person's Talents. Something I hadn't really plugged into my own reasoning on the subject. Many of you also applied the idea of Prodigy to other areas-- not just music, but art, writing, speaking, etc. This also I hadn't considered before. I had been thinking of the area of music exclusively.
So after adding these two ideas into the pot brewing in my mind, and also doing some "soul-searching" about where my ideas were coming from, what was the motivation behind my aversion to the term, "Prodigy", I came up with a few new things for your consideration.
First of all, my motivation. While I've never been labeled as an actual Prodigy (although some of my siblings (who shall remain nameless) have been at times), all my life I've stood out as Different from my peers. Or perhaps I should say, a select group of myself and some close friends have stood out as Different from our other peers. We were home-schooled, avid readers, highly articulate, motivated in drama and music, practiced in sewing and other home-crafts, lovers of dance and intellectual conversation. We were Creative. We were Artistic. We were Musical. We were Intellectuals. Those were the labels that set us apart from "Normal Kids". I know that sounds arrogant. I was indeed arrogant. Not consciously. I simply accepted the labels that were applied to me and assumed that there was something slightly better about me (you have no idea how embarrassing that is to write down in black and white).
As I got older, and as I moved outside my small circle of local friends and began to encounter people with talents different than mine I realized something about myself. I was no better than the next guy. Not really. There was nothing so special about Me, Myself, that set me apart from others as Better. Different, yes, unique in the eyes of the Lord, yes, but not Better. I began to look back on my teenage self with shame. And I began to reject the labels; Musical, Artistic, Creative and Intellectual. It positively makes my skin curl up when someone calls me one of those things. Not to be ungracious, it's just the context. You know? It reminds me of my arrogance.
So here's where the Lord comes into my new way of thinking about this. I don't think He made me intrinsically different from anyone else when it comes to my abilities in music, art and general creativity. He simply gave me a desire and a joy that is only fulfilled when I'm actively involved in one of those areas. It's not that I'm such a great and talented seamstress, I just DO it. All the time. Because I love it. My voice is physically not that much different than yours, it's just that I have a desire to develop my voice, to train it and work with it-- singing to the best of my ability brings me joy and I'm not satisfied with just singing, I want to sing better and better and louder and higher and stronger. I can't stand not to create things of beauty, so I'm driven to explore new ways of doing that. I try out decoupage and smocking and embroidery, I wall paper my dining room and research cool ways to paint my walls, I buy fabric almost compulsively.
I think every human is created in the Image of God and that this creative drive is expressed in different ways in different people, but it's all basically the same thing, in that it is an expression of the Image of God in man. So therefore, the five-year-old Musical Prodigy is no greater a person than the mother with four children who fosters five more because her creative-drive-expression-of-the-Image-of-God thing expresses itself in her mothering. Or the mom who spends all her spare time volunteering with underprivileged kids, or the guy who invents a new coding language, or the teacher inventing new ways to explain Einstein's theory of relativity.
So the reason that I reject the label "Prodigy" is that it implies something Better about that person than the average guy. What I now think about that person labeled a Prodigy, is that God has created him or her in such a way that they have a drive, a desire, a hunger and thirst in their particular area. That's what sets them apart. Not a Betterness, but a stronger Desire.
I still think that environment plays a crucial role in this whole thing, but I'm now seeing it as secondary to this Desire.