Have we lost our capacity for imagination as Christians? Have we assigned imagination to child’s play but now of course we are adults so we set aside childish ways? Imagination is about pretend, we all know that. We use our imagination for fantasy. Imagination takes us into the world of the improbable and the impossible. Adult life has to face what is real and not engage in some imaginary goose chase. So this is how many have come to think about imagination. Could there be more to imagination than what we imagine? Imagination is a faculty or capacity of the mind. We all use our imagination.
“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.’ –Genesis 28:16 Jacob was on the run from his brother who wanted to kill him. Jacob whose name means ‘deceiver’ had maneuvered himself into the patriarchal blessing and birthright by tricking his Dad and also taking advantage of his brother. As he was fleeing and making his way to his Uncle’s house he stopped to rest. It was in this vulnerable and exposed ‘in between space’ that he had a fantastic dream and awoke to his conclusion that
“It’s time to wind the clocks,” he said as he walked to the grandfather clock that he had built so many years ago. “That’s what I do on Sundays.” As I watched him proceed to complete this process that he does weekly, I knew that beautiful tones of the chimes would sound on the hour as I have heard it many times through the years. It made me wonder if in our journey of Christian spiritual formation, Christ says at regular rhythmic intervals, “It’s time to reset the pilgrims on their journeys according to my time. As they live
God created us to be a complex mix of biology and experience. We are embodied souls who have minds that inevitably draw us into relationships. Gregory Boyd calls this complex interface a matrix (Escaping the Matrix). He explains what he means by saying, biologically, we are given billions of neurons that connect via trillions of neuro synapsis. We are also given the manner by which the brain is constructed to function (e.g. neurons firing together wire together). God created us this way and it is “very good” (and incredibly complex!). Now what gets registered in our God-given neuro
“What do you want me to do for you?” This was Jesus’ question to the blind man. Why ask that question. Isn’t it obvious what the man would want? It is. But Jesus asks about his desire because he knows it is critical for us to own and name and take responsibility for our desires. We must pay attention to our desires because they tell us something VERY important in the Christian life. Desire, more than our cognition, volition, or conscience, define what we believe is true, good, and beautiful. Last week a community of devoted souls met for
John 5:1–9 (ESV) The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered
How we look at things influences (if not determines) what we see. Two people can look at the same image or situation in life and see something quite different. Sometimes the different perspectives are very frustrating (ever try to convince a friend or mate or child that there is another way to see things?). But different perspectives can be a very rewarding experience. They can give us texture to life that we would not enjoy without them. There is no place where this is more true than the Christian faith.
When we respond to our world from a re-presentation of reality anchored in our communion with God we are living with a ‘holy imagination.’ In other words, we perceive our world from the perspective of our lives being lived in Christ. It takes a life devoted to the contemplative reading of Scripture to absorb the images of being in Christ deeply into the soul. Let me (Rich) give you a simple illustration of what I mean.
How we interpret our memories gives us a self-identity. The way we ‘edit’ the events and emotions of our past has a great impact on how we understand ourselves in the present. And our self-understanding impacts the way we engage in all our relationships. Some memories are so powerful and or pervasive that they are critical in determining who we are.
God created our brain in such a way that it captures images. Our memory gives us access to images from the past. Every image we remember is marinated in feelings. So if I (Rich) ask you to tell me about your favorite vacation you will give me an explanation of your images. The explanation of your images is your interpretation of the re-presentation of what you lived on vacation. The interpretation is guided by the feelings affixed to the memory of your vacation. Now this interpretation reality is very, very important.