Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: imagination

What Keeps Us From Seeing the Beauty in Others?

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As I have lived as a part of the Tacoma Catholic Worker now for four years I am beginning to have a different imagination for community, relationships, social justice, neighborliness, hospitality and compassion.  It is hard to see Christ in others in the midst of a pretty violent culture where individualism, competition, consumerism and independence is praised.  God is teaching me not to complain so much about the world I live in and learn to love it instead.  As Dorothy Day likes to say love is a harsh and dreadful thing.

I have spent many years complaining and being angry, but things are changing in me as I am learning to forgive and love.  The world is not bothering me so much as I have experienced God revealing to me beauty, mystery, goodness in all kinds of ordinary ways in everyday life.  The ordinary has become sacred to me.  The small things have been revelations of God’s love and compassion.

Learning to walk in the dark where confusion, pain, insecurity and even depression at times have guided me to a more abundant life of seeing Christ in others.  This imagination to see Christ in others is what I have been called to.  People are beautiful in spite of their brokenness.  The world is beautiful in spite of all the injustice that goes on around us.

So complaining about all the stuff I do not like will not be helpful.  Over time it will really hinder my flourishing as a human being in this world.  I want to be free to dance and live a life of peace.  I want to find joy in the dark seasons of life where it is hard to make sense of what I am experiencing.

Finding the love within myself to see Christ in others is such a powerful practice for me.  This is the journey of being the change I want to see in the world.  There is nothing more difficult and beautiful than this.

  •  Having the imagination to see Christ in others

Loving others by seeing the value and mystery in and through them is about having the imagination to see Christ in others.  This is a radical thought!  Does Christ really live in each and every one of us even if we have not “accepted Christ” into our lives?  I think he does in some mysterious way that we cannot always understand.

  •  We are created in Christ’s image

I believe there are dimensions of Christ that live in all of us.  How could they not?  We are created in his image.  Not some people but all people.

  • To see the best in everyone

Dorothy Day encourages us “To love with understanding and without understanding.  To love blindly, and to folly.  To see only what is lovable.  To think only on these things.  To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults.  To see Christ in them …”  This is what the body of Christ is called to in the parish.

What keeps us from having the imagination to see Christ in others?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403709105&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Losing Sight of the Mystery

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The question I have constantly pondered through life is, What does it mean to have Christ living in me?  It seems to me this is the question we are to play with our whole lives.  After decades of seeking God in some form, I have realized that all of my spirituality is to be embodied through love.  Without love, Christ is not being allowed to live within my body.

In order to love and live, I must live as an ordinary mystic of sorts.  One who allows life to come from within as I listen deeply and love authentically.  This make it harder to create God in my image by allowing the image of God within me to shape who I become.

  •  Losing sight of the mystery of our spirituality

Our spirituality has become too rationalistic, too embedded into the modernity of our culture in the past decades.  In the midst of all this, we have lost sight of the mystery of the gospel, the mystery of the body of Christ, the mystery of God’s ordinary miracles among us and the mystery of the human being.  Our Christianity has a mystical nature rooted in our bodies.

  •  A mystical nature in everyday life

When you take away the mystical nature of Christianity, you have a distorted spirituality that is void of all substance and life.  You have a skeleton instead of a body.  The mystical nature of Christianity could bring a lot of life back to the body of Christ in the parish.  Our spirituality was meant to have a mystical nature in everyday life.

  •  Our very life and strength

This is how we commune with God together.  The mystical nature of Christianity is our very life and strength.  It comes to us in all kinds of ordinary ways through the relational context of place.  The mystical imagination lives by the mystery of Christ living in us.

  •  Seeing an alternative to the North American status quo culture

Jacques Ellul says, “The mystic experience frightens us…”  We are uncomfortable with the mystical nature of Christianity because it pushes us to live in our bodies.  It pushes us to become selfless and lose our ego identities.  It opens up the imagination to see alternatives to the North American status quo culture.

  •  The mystical imagination is shunned by the ego

We might become frightened because Christ will disturb and haunt our every agenda with unpredictability.  The mystical imagination is shunned by the ego.  The ego does not like the mystical imagination that seeks to destroy all our illusions that we have created.

  •  Losing our lives to the mystical nature of Christianity

There is no escaping the mystical nature of Christianity.  It is a way forward in how we can follow Christ in this postmodern age.  The mystical nature of Christianity should frighten us in a way because we will truly lose our lives to it.

How can we embody the mystical nature of Christianity as Christ lives in us?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402671094&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

The Shared Experience of Life

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Recently I have been thinking a lot about my life.  As another year passes and I find myself in a regular routine in everyday life where I live, I am struck by how ordinary my spirituality is.  God is present to me in very ordinary ways although sometimes I do not understand this very much.  I like to look for God in mountain top experiences, but it seems God is found through my neighbors in community.

How have I missed this for so long?  I am understanding more that the God in me is connecting with the God in the other who I connect with in everyday life.  This is leading me to a more interdependent way of life where community and relationships have more meaning to me now.  As I have lived in my neighborhood of Downtown Tacoma for over ten years, I am discovering a new imagination within myself for this interdependent life.

I have cultivated a searching spirit within me that has questioned almost everything around me, but one thing I have discovered is that God is always manifesting wisdom to me through my everyday encounters with life.  My imagination is always grasping for relational connection in community with others.  This longing is so deep that many times I struggle with being disillusioned as I live in a culture that has been programmed for individualism over interdependence.

  •  Suffering from my own programming toward individualism

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).

  •  Can we lose our individualistic dreams?

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?

  • Developing an imagination for interdependence and loving mutuality

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.

  •  Our imaginations need the shared experience of life, goodness, and beauty

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.

How can we live into a more interdependent way of life together?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402576554&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Communal+Imagination

Learning Wisdom Through the Writings of Wendell Berry

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  • The need for better communities

“If we are to hope to correct our abuses of each other and of other races and of our land, and if our effort to correct these abuses is to be more than a political fad that will in the long run be only another form of abuse, then we are going to have to go far beyond public protest and political action.  We are going to have to rebuild the substance and integrity of private life in this country.  We are going to have to gather up the fragments of knowledge and responsibility that we have parceled out to the bureaus and the corporations and the specialists, and put those fragments back together in our own minds and in our families and households and neighborhoods.  We need better government, no doubt about it.  But we also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities.  We need persons and households that do not have to wait upon organizations, but can make necessary changes in themselves, on their own.”  A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural and Agricultural

  • How can a society live when its communities die?

“…for I cannot see how a nation, a society, or a civilization can live while its communities die.”  Another Turn of the Crank

  • The truth of the imagination to prove itself in every life and place in the world

“One of the most profound of human needs is for the truth of the imagination to prove itself in every life and place in the world, and for the truth of the world’s lives and places to be proved in imagination.”  Home Economics

  • Cultivate the possibility of peace and harmlessness

“If one disagrees with the nomadism and violence in our society, then one is under an obligation to take up some permanent dwelling place and cultivate the possibility of peace and harmlessness in it.  If one deplores the destructiveness and wastefulness of the economy, then one is under an obligation to live as far out on the margin of the economy as one is able: to be economically independent of exploitive industries, to learn to need less, to waste less, to make things last, to give up meaningless luxuries, to understand and resist the language of the salesmen and public relations experts, to see through attractive packages, to refuse to purchase fashion or glamour or prestige…”  The Long-Legged House

  • The destruction of local economies, neighborhood, and community

“The mess that surrounds us, then, must be understood not just as a problem in itself but as a symptom of a greater and graver problem: the centralization of our economy, the gathering of the productive property and power into fewer and fewer hands, and the consequent destruction, everywhere, of the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community.”  What Are People For?

How can we care for our local economies, neighborhood, and community?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1495487423/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1WMCCFMG8GG7SX87P2RD&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846

Risking Relational Practice in the Parish

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I have lived a lot of my life afraid of the many of things that I really can’t control.  So it is easy for me to live within a safe comfort zone of my own making.  This has led me to a life of pursuing individualism and independence apart from the community I live within.  Risking interdependence is too difficult and countercultural.

But I am finding a way out of my comfort zone and living as if others mattered.  This has been shaping me more and more as the years go by.  Risking new ways of being and doing have brought life to me.

  •  Being pushed out of our comfort zones

We need to learn how to risk our lives in the parish.  Our everyday lives need to embrace the practice of living on the ground in humility toward one another.  Nothing is scarier than the practice of humility, because in humility we lose all our techniques of control and escapism.  We are pushed out of our comfort zones.

  •  Experiments around local ways of living relationally

Our relationships become fashioned by a new paradigm of valuing one another’s humanity.  We can no longer walk past someone without regard for their wellbeing.  This calls us to a new and disturbing degree of risk that will shake us to the core of who we are. This calls for new experiments around local ways of living relationally.

  •  Stepping into the unknown

Risk is about stepping into the unknown and being shaped by what we experience there. It is more mysterious than anything we have ever known and shatters all our propositions of preconceived ideas.  The communal imagination lives by this kind of risk. It takes humility to live into authentic risk as a way of life.

  •  Relational practice in the parish

How does change take place within us?  It takes place through relational practice in the parish.  We are shaped through the ongoing practice of humility toward one another.  We are shaped when we risk seeing the humanity in another.

  • Having some empathy for others

We are shaped when we honor and value our neighbor.  We need the humility to risk just being in our humanity and having some empathy for others who seem different from us. We need to risk seeing the commonality in one another.  We need the humility to risk opening our lives to others relationally and trusting one another.

  • Cultivating the imagination

Relationships don’t work without the risk of humility.  Our imaginations are inspired by the intuition and creativity that risk cultivates within us.  We need to cultivate the imagination to live into relationships differently than those we have known in the past.  Relationships are to be valued and not taken advantage of.

  • Risk new ways of being and doing

Relationships need gratitude not contempt.  Relationships need honor not objectification. To have a new imagination for relationships involves  risk, and it takes a lot of humility to sustain them.  Mark Scandrette notes, “If we want to change, we have to risk new ways of being and doing …”

How can we risk living relationally in the parish?

The Captivity of Our Imaginations

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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?

Identifying With the Christ That Lives Within Us

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Sometimes in my life my perceptions of God actually keep me from an awareness of God within myself.  I have a longing in my soul, “God save me from God.”  I have to unlearn so many things that I thought I understood.  As I am getting older, I am becoming more and more what I call an ordinary mystic; one who listens deeply beyond the intellect into the imagination of the soul.

  • A crisis of communion

We are at a crisis when it comes to our communion with God.  Most of what we know of God is all about information, facts, propositions, ideas and English language.  It seems we don’t have a very experiential, mystical, reflective, interior connection with our own souls anymore.

  • Our inner and outer worlds are divided

Our inner and outer worlds are divided from one another.  There is not an integration of the two.  We will need to cultivate the mystical imagination within us for an integration to occur.  The parish has a lot to teach us about the role of our imagination toward God and one another.

  • The Imagination as something that helps us to experience truth

Gregory A. Boyd says, “We have come to identify imagination as something that takes us away from truth rather than something that can be useful, and indeed necessary, to enable us to experience truth.”

  • The imagination can unleash beauty into the world

The imagination is a powerful human faculty that can unleash beauty into the world in ways that we cannot always understand.  Imagination helps us to experience the truth of life, not carry us away from it into fantasies and illusions.  We must be attentive to the mystical imagination within us in the midst of everyday life because it is our source of sanity in a culture that is so fragmented and disembodied.

  • The imagination of the empire has no sympathy for our being

Without embodying the mystical imagination we will be swept up by the imagination of the empire and left for dead.  The empire has no sympathy for our souls.  We need to have some capacity within our souls to defend ourselves from the imagination of the empire.  The mystical imagination will give us the strength to be grounded in our being.

  • Finding deserts of survival

The mystical imagination will help us to find deserts of survival that will replenish our souls in everyday life together.  The mystical imagination cannot be contained within words.  It encompasses the depths of our bodies and the living rhythms of our everyday lives.  It connects us to the communal and the parish dimensions of our countercultural expression.

  • Christ lives within us through the mystical imagination

The mystical imagination is connected to the resurrection of Christ.  Christ is alive within us and not dead to our imaginations.  Christ is alive today through his body in everyday life.  The mystical imagination identifies with the Christ that lives within us.

How can we embody the mystical imagination that lives within us?