The Captivity of Our Imaginations

by Mark Votava


When I was a child I had an uninhibited imagination for life.  I lived in the present moment of my relationships caring deeply for the people who I knew and loved.  My life was characterized by an interdependence on others.  As I got older, my imagination slowly got captured by other things that have left me disconnected, isolated and fragmented.

  •  Becoming disconnected from one another

In a culture that values the individualistic over the interdependent, we become disconnected from one another.  I have suffered from my own programming toward individualism and have longed to be set free to live into something different.  I’m haunted by these words of Christ: “For whoever wants to save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).

  •  Losing our individualistic dreams and ambitions  

I want to understand what this means and how to embody Christ’s words.  Can we lose our individualistic dreams and ambitions that take priority over everything and everyone else?  Can we stop the pain that is caused by our self-centered pursuits where the imagination necessary for relational life is forgotten?

  •  Our imaginations are coming to the point of starvation and death

It’s one thing to disconnect ourselves from the cultural comfort of the modern paradigm of success, but the authentic life should not be lived alone.  Our imaginations are coming to the point of starvation and death.  We must develop an imagination for interdependence and loving mutuality, if we are to flourish together.

  •  The systems of our culture are ripping us away from one another

All the systems of our culture are ripping us away from one another, and few of us have awakened to what is happening.  Our imaginations need the shared experience of life, goodness, and beauty.  We cannot know for sure what will happen in us and through us together, but I think it will be something beautiful as we let go of all our controlling individualistic ways of life.  We can’t let our imaginations be captivated by the “normal” individualistic agenda of the twenty-first century.

  •  The captivity of our imaginations

Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat make it clear that this type of “normal” is not necessarily good.  “The primary way any imperial culture claims our lives is through the captivity of our imaginations.  Take an average of twenty-six hours of television a week, thousands of brand-name logos a day, an education system structured to produce law-abiding consumers who always crave more, and dress it all up with a mythology of divine right to world rule, and it is not surprising that the dominant worldview is so deeply internalized in the population – including the church – that it is simply taken to be the only viable, normal and commonsensical way of life …”  When you’ve been raised like this it seems so much like common sense, but it really makes no sense at all.

Why do we so easily give in to the systems that are ripping us away from one another?