Quite a few articles in this problem discover the part of imagination in Christian life. Jim Friedrich urges preachers on Easter Sunday not to clarify or argue for the resurrection but to declare it—and so leave area for listeners to discover the mystery of Easter in their lives. Jerome Berryman, founder of Godly Play, outlines his tips for inviting youngsters into Christian language. His objective is not mainly to convey moral lessons or biblical details but to spark in youngsters a deep engagement with biblical stories and the wonder of them. And Marilynne Robinson and Rowan Williams jointly talk about the significance of imaginative art and its part in unsettling fixed tips and opening our eyes to elements of reality ignored or dismissed by the prevailing culture. Imagination is not an addendum or ornament to religious life, but at the heart of it.
The operate of becoming faithful men and women takes place in strategies that can not effortlessly be measured.
For generations, men and women have lamented the decline of biblical literacy—the reality that quite a few men and women do not know fundamental stories like Jonah and the fish or Daniel in the lion’s den. The decline of biblical literacy is often related with moral and social decline and the rise of indifference to religion. But in their several strategies the writers in this problem of the magazine point to a distinctive sort of crisis. The dilemma may possibly not be that men and women lack details or arguments about religion but that we do not deeply inhabit the religious stories we do know. We are not open to letting stories of faith and the movements of the spiritual life operate on us. That is a dilemma even for these of us who do have some know-how of the Bible, who study it and preach from it.
Our culture—sometimes even the culture of churches—can be inimical to the operate of the imagination. We are prone to emphasize know-how, action, and argument. These articles remind us that the operate of becoming faithful men and women takes place in strategies that can not effortlessly be measured. It takes place by means of contemplation, prayer, wonder, ritual, imagination, play, shared meals, artful storytelling—activities that need slowing down and involve strategies of being aware of that our each day planet is apt to treat as expendable. It requires courage to devote time on such arts and with such disciplines. It can be hard to trust that God is operating by means of them.
Imagination is a single of the most glorious elements of getting human. As far as we know, ants and armadillos do not have it. The imagination permits us to feel of what is not, to develop new mental universes, to apprehend barely conceivable truths, to feel ourselves into other people’s areas and situations. The imagination doesn’t ask our permission as it traverses perceptions and meanings.
That imaginative activities are at the heart of faith is a challenge to all of us, wherever we could be on the theological spectrum. It is a reminder that in the end faith is the operate of the spirit, and it is by means of the spirit that transformation takes place.
A version of this write-up seems in the print edition below the title “A faithful imagination.”